I sometimes feel as if there are any number of books, too many to count really, that are simply amazing and just waiting for me to finally get round to reading them. The more I read about books and talk about books, the longer my “to be read” list becomes. So how does a book on that list jump to the head of the line? Sometimes I’m just in the mood for a certain book. Oftentimes it’s a matter of convenience – this one has been on my mind, it’s on the shelf right in front of me, so I’ll grab it. In the case of the book I most recently read, it came very highly recommended to me by a dear friend. It’s one of her favorites. I always enjoy reading the books that close family and friends love because it’s fascinating to see what kinds of worlds and characters enchant them. Plus, as the person who chooses the books for the library’s two book clubs, I feel as if I’m often forcing books on others. It’s nice to have the tables turned every once in a while. Thus began my journey with Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.
It’s an epic story about a woman, Claire Randall, who travels through time, from post-WWII England, to 18th century Scotland. She travels by accident, leaving her husband, Frank, behind. She is thrust rather brutally into a world of clan wars, spies, and witchcraft. Luckily, she is a trained combat nurse, and her skills come in handy throughout the book, as she and her traveling companions suffer the effects of swords, guns, and torture. Of course she is quickly befriended by a roguish, charming, exceedingly attractive young man, Jamie Fraser, who soon pledges to love and protect her. There are several obstacles to their union, not least of which is the love and loyalty she still has for her husband, Frank. They’re also being hunted by the English, in particular one officer, Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall.
This book worked for a variety of reasons. I loved the two main characters. Jamie is very much a man of his time, which is refreshing, and I appreciated the realistic depiction. I will admit to now having a bit of a literary crush on him. I enjoyed Claire even more, though. She is not one of those whiny, can’t-get-my-hands-dirty heroines, but she also isn’t one of those unbelievable, unrelatable, I-know-kung-fu types, either. She’s intelligent and resourceful and courageous. Also, Gabaldon is detailed – she knows how to construct a world that the reader can clearly picture. The book starts off a little slow, but the pace picks up and is consistent throughout the rest of the book. In fact, there’s not really a dull moment after Claire time travels.
If you haven’t begun this series, you’re in for a treat! The 8th book, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, was just released. Plus, they’re bringing the series to TV on the Starz network on August 9th. I clearly have some reading to do!