Diana Gabaldon
Outlander Cover

A roll in the hay of the past


Outlander was one of those books I read on an arranged whim. Gabaldon was at the 2010 National Book Festival. I have used the festival as a means to introduce myself to new authors, and since her book was purportedly about time-travel and recieved many good comments, I gave it a try. So, it was not all I hoped for. It was, instead of being about time-travel, a romance novel set in a former time. Time travel was a device used to give Claire, the protagonist a character that would set her appart from her surroundings and adopted culture. Her inner conflict between the cultured, modern woman with the mores of 20th century England against the wilder setting of 18th century Scotland give her plenty of room for development. At the same time, the conflict between surviving in the past world and trying to get back to her own gives the novel plenty of tension.

So much for the more objective benefit of the doubt. On the whole, the book bore all the marks of a novel meant to titilate. In that, it was quite effective. Sexuality is the vehicle of choice for Gabaldon to accomplish almost anything in this book. At least Claire had a mind as well as a body. It gave her substance when dealing with characters in the book other than her husband.

Outlander held my attention well. Very few of the characters were in danger of becoming props, though Jamie, Claire's husband could certainly have used more dimension. Claire is extremely well rounded, and most other characters are too. The plot makes me wonder how well I would fair as a prophet if I were sent back in time. Claire remembers enough to help, but not so much that she can navigate the details. I don't know if I'll invest any time or money in continuing the series, I may. I am interested in the characters, but the tomes are a considerable investment in time and my libido does not need that much help.