I picked this book up after watching the TV series and I can see why they adapted this book into a show. It’s an historical feminist romance, one unique to its genre and one you cannot put down. I will admit I swooned a lot during the show, but that’s incentive for you to go and watch it and read the book.
To quickly recap the novel, Claire is a WW2 nurse and the novel commences after the war when she’s reunited with her husband, historian Frank Randall. They plan to reignite their marriage and finally go on their honeymoon to the Scottish Highlands. With lots of herring and tea, Claire finds herself content until she touches the stones of Craigh Na Dun and is teleported back to 1763 where we meet her husband’s ancestor, Black Jack Randall – however, he isn’t as loving and kind as his descendant. She finds herself an outlander, a Sassenach, in a volatile time period and her safety lies in the hands of Jaime Fraser, a Scottish warrior, the kind we all love to love.
The complexity of the novel is not only the time travelling between the 20th and 17th century, but the extensive research gone into the Highland culture, which came across as rich, exciting and alive. Gabaldon is exceptional at weaving a historical tale because it felt like I was immersed in the Highlands themselves. I could feel the crisp chill of the night, feel the lush landscape on my hands, hear the stones scream as they take Claire back in time.
Warning: some spoilers ahead!
Claire inspires me. Damn, her character is so complex and empowering, a true feminist woman. I love how blunt she is, her practical and rational nature as well as her mature sass and vocabulary of swear words. Gabaldon’s exploration of female sexuality ignites a fire in us as she emphasises the notion that female pleasure as perfectly normal and should be as widely accepted as men. This is seen at the beginning of the book with her husband Frank while they’re rekindling their marriage. In 1763, Claire’s sexual experience also comes into play when her relationship with Jaime reaches an intimate level and what I loved was Gabaldon reversed the situation: Jaime was the virgin and Claire was the older, more experienced one. It left a different feeling in my stomach than a normal romance novel would, which is why I loved it. It challenged the stereotype and make me realise that Claire is the kind of woman I want to be.
And oh my Lord, Jaime Fraser is a whole other level of a gallant warrior. His recklessness but selfless nature makes you want to scream and cry with joy. His devotion to Claire is beautiful, and once she shows him how things are done in the bedroom, his confidence grows over time and we see these two become a couple to be reckoned with. They’re an OTP, not gonna lie.
Despite having Jaime, Claire’s constant battle between the past and the present is one of the main issues in the novel, her heart torn between her husband, Frank, in 1945 and her new husband, Jaime, in 1763. The cultural and contextual differences between them have us readers just as conflicted as she is. And the historical events that unfold only add to the authenticity of the novel as we witness the growing tensions between the Jacobites and Redcoats.
Go and buy this book! It’s worth it.