Where I Got It: Borrowed from library & then own it via paperbackswap.com.
Who I Recommend This To: Historical fiction fans, especially those who enjoy a streak of nudity.
Narrator: Davina Porter
Publisher: Recorded Books (2006)
Length: 32 hours 30 minutes
Series: Book 1 Outlander
Claire Randall, combat nurse, is finally reunited with her husband in 1945. They had been separated to both go off and serve in the war effort. While on their second honeymoon, Claire explores a ring of standing stones. And that is when the time travel element happens. Somehow she is transported back in time to 1743. The countryside is a war-torn Scotland and she is now an Outlander, a foreign element that is trusted by no one. Taken in, at least temporarily, by a Scottish lord and his household, she gets to know the wayward and sometimes outcast James (Jamie) Fraser. Enter the romance element. Throughout the book, these two are involved in more than one adventure.
I read this book years ago as a teen and before I had a serious intimate relationship. Since there is plenty of sex, there were parts that I simply didn’t get (but still intrigued me). Now, having read it as a full adult, I still quite enjoyed it. Yes, there is sex but each scene reveals something about the characters involved and I never felt it was gratuitous. Read away, guilt free!
Now the bigger draw is the historical fiction aspect. It is great, such detail, so much going on with the plot. The setting is great and watching Claire try to navigate her way through it without becoming someone’s pawn, or killed, was sometimes heart-stopping. First, I really liked that the book started in 1945, a time of turmoil, with the unknown looming ahead for the folks of that time. Claire and frank are getting reacquainted after being separated as they served their country. We have plenty of time to get to know Frank, his love of genealogy, and Claire and her interest in medicinal plants.
Of course, before they can settle into their new life, perhaps start a family, Claire is whisked off to 1743 Scotland. Right off, she is practically thrown into a skirmish and runs into one of Frank’s ancestors, Jack Randall. Jack turns out to be the evil nemesis of the book and he lets his course ways be known straight off. But the Scots whisk her away. Of course, they have plenty of questions, and luckily, wounded that Claire can see to.
And that is another aspect I enjoyed. Claire, while not a warrior in standard sense, has seen some pretty gruesome things as a combat nurse. So she impresses the Scots both with her strong stomach and her swearing. Haha!
Now I do need to put it out there that there are a few scenes of near-rape and one scene that is detailed rape. Just a word of caution to those who might wish to avoid those scenes. I will say that they were not gratuitous and added to the story, and the character development.
There is also one scene where Claire takes a beating. Honestly, I was a bit conflicted over this. But Gabaldon does an excellent job of putting it into context of the time period. Plus, I liked Claire’s final response to it.
Overall, an excellent read. I am so glad I picked it up again after so many years and I plan to continue the series. Gabaldon pulled my emotions left and right, and even dug a few out of me that I didn’t know I had.
The Narration: Davina Porter was excellent. She did an English accent and the Scottish accents with aplomb. Plus there was a bit of French thrown in. She had distinct voices for the large cast of characters and she carried the various emotions of the intense scenes quite well.
What I Liked: Claire is a combat nurse; we get to know her life before it is swept up and away; Scottish accents!; plenty of action interspersed with times of reflection; great sex scenes that also move the story forward.
What I Disliked: I am not sure I bought into the time travel mechanism, but the rest of the book is so excellent, I can overlook that.
What Others Think: