Sunday, May 26, 2013

335 (2013 #19). Outlander

by Diana Gabaldon,
read by Davina Porter

This book was the selection for my local book club for May 2013.  I'd heard of this series (this is the first book) and had always wanted to read it, so I was glad.  However, after finishing this book, I'm unlikely to read any more in the series.

The member who recommended the book and led the discussion has been to the Scottish Highlands, where the book is set, and I can certainly see why someone who's been there would be a fan.  Perhaps I'd feel differently if I'd been there as well.

I started out listening to the audiobook (pictured above).  British actress Davina Porter is fabulous as the narrator, which is the main character Claire from the story.  She also does an excellent job with voices for the other main character, Jaime Fraser, as well as all the other Scots and English in the story.

However - this book is (TOO) long.  It is 627 pages in hardbound and 28 discs in audio format!  I'd borrowed the audiobook from the public library, and unfortunately, I had to return it (someone else had placed a hold on it) before I was able to finish it.  I borrowed the hardbound print copy (pictured left; it has a much prettier cover) from my university library and finally finished the last 50 pages of the book the night before the book club meeting.

The story is a mix of fantasy (Claire finds herself sent back in time from 1945 to 1743), historical fiction, and romance, very heavy on the latter.  I don't mind the sex, but there seemed to be more than necessary in this book.  For me, it got in the way of the historical fiction, my favorite genre.  I got some idea of what life might have been like in 18th century Scotland - but not much. 

I also had some issues with an incident (beginning on page 287) where Jaime beats Claire (and seems to enjoy it), and with some of the awful things that happen to Jaime in later parts of the story.  Again, I'm not a prude, and I realize times were different in 1743 than they are now (or even were in 1945), but I felt Claire was a little too accepting of a beating from a man she supposedly loves and supposedly loves her.  I also felt the descriptions of what happened to Jaime were a little too gratuitous for my liking.  Finally, I found Claire's moral compass to be a little off.  She feels a little guilt about betraying her 20th century husband Frank Randall, but not a lot, once she has (to save her life) to marry Jaime, a 23-year-old hunk four years younger than herself.

Others have done a far better job than me outlining the problems with this book.  Bottom line:I'm glad I read this book to see what all the fuss was about, but am not at all interested in the rest of the series.

© Amanda Pape - 2013

[The audiobook, and a hardbound copy for reference, were borrowed from and returned to my local public library and university library respectively.]

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