I have resisted reading this book for a very long time. Workmates have raved about it, swooning over Jamie Fraser, but those who know me best warned me away from it – ‘You won’t like it – too many things for you to criticize’. Although I do have a nose for historical inaccuracy, I don’t have a detailed of 18th century Scotland but I prefer not to read too much graphic violence or sex. I seriously doubted it was my sort of book. I read that Diana Gabaldon said, ‘If you’re unsure about it, open the book anywhere and read three pages; if you can put it down again, I’ll give you a dollar.’ I couldn’t resist that challenge so I cast my jaundiced eye over three pages selected at random and put it down. Several times. (Diana Gabaldon owes me $4.00.) Then I stumbled across this review by GoodReads reviewer Holly which made me laugh aloud and I thought I might as well give it another try. I started at the beginning this time and found it an easy read, full of surprising humour. Yes there are anachronisms and minor plot inconsistencies but the story rattles on and the main characters are very likeable. Most of the time the sex is of the fade to black type but there is an undeniable and troubling amount of sexual violence and it can be argued that Gabaldon could have dealt differently with what was probably quite common in 18th century Scotland. And as far as THAT scene with Jack Randall goes, a friend advised me to view it as an allegory for what England was doing for Scotland at the time and skim through it. I survived.
So I would agree with Holly’s review – don’t take the story too seriously, treat it as a bit of escapism, enjoy it in the way you would A Knight’s Tale. Outlander didn’t engage me enough to want to read the next eight 500 plus page books but I would class Outlander as a good holiday read.
Reviews are polarized to a degree although more come down on the side of loving it rather than hating it. (Lots of spoilers in all the links.)
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