“A hedgehog? And just how does a hedgehog make love?" he demanded.
No, I thought. I won't. I will not. But I did. "Very carefully," I replied, giggling helplessly. So now we know just how old that one is, I thought.”
Outlander was written by American author Diana Gabaldon and published in 1991 by Dell publishing. The first of an eight-part series, the 850 page novel blends the genres of romance and historical fiction. We are first introduced to our protagonist Claire Randall in 1945. She is a former combat nurse, recently reunited with her husband, and accidentally steps through a worm-hole to 1743’s clan-ruled Scotland. She is caught up in the quick of a raiding party, who suspect her of being a spy and call her Sassenach (literally – “Outlander”) until such a time as she is able to mend their resident badass – Jamie Fraser – twice in the course of as many days.
After that there is less talk of Claire being a spy, but everyone still refers to her as Sassenach.
Gabaldon excels at narration and exposition. Her scenery is lurid and postcard-esque. Her exposition about each character’s feelings are quite stunning – you really pull for the characters to win. With few exceptions, the dialogue though felt to be more a study of dialect than it was of natural speech. The plot lacked tension. Claire is put in precarious situations, but given the heft of remaining pages and the emotional investment before the scenarios become dire – one feels Gabaldon isn’t about to pull a Red Wedding out of her draft notes anytime soon. The danger never feels quite real.
Outlander is not a bad book. However, having gone in hoping for some more of the time travel element, Outlander didn’t meet my expectations, and I wouldn’t recommend it.