Outlander- Diana Gabaldon

I was quite surprised by this book. I am not sure quite what I was expecting- probably a fun historical fantasy adventure that could be classified as ‘young adult’, because the last time I have read books with elements of historical fiction and fantasy was a few years ago. Also it was recommended by two friends who I know as bright bubbly mothers and professionals. I was pre-warned that the outlander TV series has an entire episode around a rape or something similar (haven’t watched it yet and it was mentioned in undertones in the tearoom- I think that’s what she said) that one of the girls found a bit too much. But I was still caught by surprise at how ‘adult’ this book was.

 

Claire Randall is on a holiday with her husband researching his family history in Scotland after the end of the second world war which kept them apart for most of their married life. Unexpectedly, Claire finds herself transported back in time to 1743, where she finds herself caught between a skirmish of the English and the Scottish. She is taken to be kept an eye on by the Scots, and after a period of disbelief, learns to live among them. And it is rough. There is poverty and corrupt use of power, men who have never heard of feminism, people who enjoy torture, there is rape, witch trials, domestic violence,  almost being killed by wild animals, infighting and sex… lots of sex.

 

The writing style was fairly straight forward. It was written in first person from Claire’s point of view. The Scots’ speech was written in their accent with local words thrown in, but I didn’t find it was too hard to understand.

 

There is always something fascinating about historical works- what I found most interesting was the harshness of life, compared with say  most of Shakespeare’s plays, or the Tudors series- which do have violence and treacherous politics but still manage to have a sheen of pleasantness, respectability and orderliness. Life in Outlander seems much more archaic and less modern than life in those other works which were set in a time 200 years earlier- the focus on nobility in the earlier works is probably the reason for this.

 

Overall I still haven’t decided if I am going to keep on with the series- at times it was a bit too adult and I wasn’t enjoying it, but there is a part of me that wants to read the next books because they go to interesting places and times.

 

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