In 1945, former combat nurse Claire Randall returns from World War II and joins her husband for a second honeymoon. Their blissful reunion is shattered when she touches a boulder in an ancient stone ruin and is instantly transported to 1743 Scotland, a place torn by war and raiding border clans. Will Claire find her way back to her own time, or is her destiny forever linked with Clan MacKenzie and the gallant James Fraser?
©1991 Diana Gabaldon; (P)1997 Recorded Books, LLC.
"Davina Porter maintains the distinct voices she creates for each character throughout the lengthy narration. Her delivery of 18th-century language sounds authentic and is easily understandable." (AudioFile)
I downloaded this book years and years ago and settled down to a 30+ hour listen. Based on many raving reviews I thought the book was a time travel tale of beloved fiction. There was so much about the book that I knew I would enjoy. The time travel, the Scottish highlands, medicinal herbs, life hundreds of years ago, gardening...the list goes on.
However, I have to state up front I hate romance novels. At the half way point I had the sudden realization--I know I'm quick-- that this book was a dreaded romance novel. I was horrified and had heard enough of what Jamie wore or didn't wear under his kilt to last me forever. The heaving bodices were weighing me down as well. This was before Audible allowed returns of hated books. So I shelved the book with a shudder, gave up, and it sat there in my library untouched for years.
Fast forward to last month when the Outlander cable program started and I watched just to see what it was like. Well--to my shock--it is wonderful. The filming, the setting, the costumes--all fantastic. So I'm listening again with renewed interest. I cringe a bit every now and then to be honest. But I am enjoying the book at long last. I can see what those positive reviewers were about. Living proof that if you don't like a book give it time. You might like it after all.
I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.
I had read a few audiobooks and had even joined Audible. But until I read this book I did not understand the magic of the format. Before reading this book I had no interest in1) romance 2) science fiction or fantasy and 3) time travel genres. I'd heard enough about the series that it piqued my interest because I loved historical fiction. Especially the period of time I knew the book covered. And I always found the challenge of tackling a big book rewarding.
This book changed so many of my perceptions of genre and reading format. While I still argue that though there is definitely a romantic and sexual relationship at the books core, it was only one part of the adventure. It still doesn't fit the romance genre to me, but it did such a good job of weaving romance and sexuality into the adventure it made me curious to read more traditional romance novels and see if they handled the topic as well. They didn't, but I discovered other good books I never would have tried of not for Outlander.
Likewise, other than Anne Rice's Vampire series which I had read many years ago, this was one of my very rare ventures into fantasy-science fiction. Setting aside my understanding of reality to accept someone else's is always difficult. But reading Outlander and the subsequent books in the series, I found myself trying to work out in my mind how this might have happened. It encouraged me to explore this genre more thoroughly as well. Even more surprising, it made me evaluate my perception of "time", what it means and how it works. I found myself paying more attention to physics and the study of the time and space relationship.
The twists and turns of the plot kept me turning the page just like the best mysteries I read. While reading the book there were enough unanswered questions, clues and short glimpses of scenes or events that caught my attention and made me store them away to remember "when all was revealed." But all was not revealed at the end and I found myself turning over these clues and snippets, trying to determine their significance, what I thought they meant and what their purpose was. One requirement of a great book is that you cannot get it out of your mind after you turn the last page. This book met that criteria. I thought about it for weeks.
Most importantly I learned that other voices can bring a whole new level to the reading experience, if it is the right voice for the right book. I would have enjoyed this book regardless, but if I read it myself and heard my voice in my head the characters would never have come so alive as they did in Davina Porter's voice. This is a perfect marriage of book and narrator. I was so surprised when I later discovered more about Porter's age, experience and background. She made a 21 year old Scotsman come to life. Her voice is Jamie to me. She handled each character wonderfully, although it is the first and only time I have ever listened to a book or series of books and thought a woman narrator did a better job on the men's voices than she did on the women's. I have loved hearing how the narrator has aged the character's voices throughout the series. You hear the young Jamie in the middle aged Jamie's voice, but you also hear the growth and maturity. I have accepted the narrators in the Lord John series, even when the book includes Jamie and actually think they are narrated well. But I am not certain I could accept another narrator for future Outlander books.
Finally, my initial interest in this book was from a historical fiction viewpoint. A good historical fiction novel, by Bernard Cornwell or Sharon Kay Penman sticks to as much historical fact as possible but presents it in an engaging and relate-able format. It makes you interested enough in the times and events that you will endure the dry-er, less lively recitation of facts of that same event or time in a nonfiction book, just to learn more. Outlander and this series delivered that in spades.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
I bought this audiobook because it was in the sci/fi fantasy category. The write up claims it has "a dash of time travel" - and that's all it has in the way of fantasy/time travel - a dash.
Time travel is used as a way to launch a HISTORICAL ROMANCE. And, ultimately, this is exactly what it is: a very detailed romance novel set in 18th century Scotland.
Keeping that in mind: it is VERY well done. The narration is terrific and the story engaging (though I did use the fast forward several times to get through the long descriptions of clan family lines, or details of the clothing/housing/etc of the time).
I don't like romances and I don't like historical fiction so I thought the two together would mean I had wasted my credit. Not so. Even though it's as far from my usual listening choices (sci/fi or cop/detective stuff) as it could be, the story flew by: I caught myself smiling at events in the story pretty regularly.
Assuming a starting point of 3 stars for an average story, I added one star for the narration (which brings the story to life) and a second star for making me smile in public. I took off a half star for requiring me to fast forward some of the descriptions = 4.5 star story. So I give it 5 stars because 4.5 is not possible. (I did buy the next book in the series too.)
Remember though, this is a romantic novel with some/lots of sex (though having made it through the sex scenes in Altered Carbon, this is pretty "romantic" sex) - so if you're looking for sci/fi or fantasy, you will be disappointed in this.
Otherwise... if you're not the romantic type but, like me, stumble onto this story by accident only to find that you like it - don't worry, we won't tell anyone...
Not that this series needs one more great review, but if you are still on the fence about giving it a try, I would urge you to do so. I'm a 3rd year doctoral student, overwhelmed with work and obligations, and quite literally the only thing that gets me excited about my 45-mile commute to school each morning is Davina Porter's amazing voice bringing to life Diane Gabaldon's epic adventure/romance story. I miss these characters when I'm away from them for too long - it's that good!! I've read a few comments about these books being too long, but I love them so much that I'm grateful to get to spend this much time with them. It should time out that I will get my degree right as I'm finishing the last book (I only listen on my commute so they last), and I intend to start them all over again when I do. They are simply that good.
My mother was a huge fan of Diana Gabaldon's work when I was growing up and I had always blown it off as a silly interest of my mother's like most kids. I'm 23 now and I thought I'd give it a try to see what all the fuss was about. I was so surprised to find out that my mother had great taste in books.. if not other things :) The idea of a woman going back in time to Scotland in the 1700's and falling in love with a highlander sounds kind of ridiculous, right? Well I was wrong, it was fantastic! There is a real story line here with genuine problems unlike some other 'romance' novels I have read. The sex scenes are tasteful and do not overpower the story. It isn't all love either, there is plenty of fighting even to keep my macho brother entertained. The places, historical events, tools, and lifestyles portrayed in the novel seem very well researched. The narration is excellent. Davina Porter has a very believable highland accent. I would highly recommend this book!
This book was written by a woman for women. About 15% of this book is graphic romance from the woman's perspective. Men listening to these sections will find the discussion extremely boring if not nausiating. These sections are not pornography, but by being graphic and explicit, come close enough to be annoying. During these sessions, the book becomes a Harlequin Romance, and the main character becomes Fabio-like. This greatly distracts from the story-line and will drive many males away from the book.
So why did I give this book a 4 star rating? Because the rest of the story is compelling, the reader is excellent, and the characters have depth and realism during the non-Fabio moments. The author takes pains to be historically accurate, and if one has visiting Scotland, the descriptions are enjoyable and vivid.
Be warned, however, that this is not science fiction. Time travel is a mechanism, not a concept in this book. As the author herself admitted at her website, this happened by accident, and she simply went along with it. So dont get this book if the goal is to explore the ramifications and paradoxes of time travel. Such topics are explored superficially in the second book, and ignored here.
If one wants a great time travel story, I recommend To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.
The complex characters and the setting of 18th century Scotland were amazingly well done, you can tell the author did her research. The least interesting is all those unnecessary scenes that add to the bulk of the story.
No, but she does a great job with accents and voices.
I think the author did an exceptional job creating the characters, story, and setting. The sex scenes are be a bit excessive, in my opinion, but I'm impressed at how the author wrote them in a very classy style, thus avoiding tipping the book into the raunchy realm *coughcoughFiftyShadesofGrey*. My only issue with this book is that it is WAY too long and the story drags because of it. There are plenty of scenes that could be taken out without it hurting the story or character development.
Needless to say, as much as I want to know what happens next, I cannot sit through another 30 hours of a book, so I think I'll just wait for the story to pan out in the Starz show (which so far has stayed true to the book).
Audio Addict! Usually listening to History these days. Love Will Durant most of all authors!
This IS NOT A SMUTTY ROMANCE BOOK. By any reasonable standards! But Ive been Shocked to see the neg reviews calling this incredibly famous novel just that.
*****A tip for the prude or those who aren't interested in love stories: read the description before you get the book. If you can't stand any mention of sexuality, or cant understand and appreciate the story of two lovers amidst tragedy of war and time, don't purchase a 32-hour, time-travel, Scottish romance novel.
Considering all the positive reviews, I rated this book, but never wrote a review bc it was all said already. This is a beloved novel, and it is also a beautiful work of literature that will stand the test of time. I am obviously not the only one to think that.
The reason I write this review is in response to the readers who call this a silly romance, a piece of smut, or overly and offensly sexual. Oh my God! I can't imagine anyone thinking there was too much sex or graphic sex in this book. Moreover, I was annoyed for the first 15 hours that there wasn't more love and romance. This author writes the few love scenes with grace and tenderness, choosing precise words that are not offensive in the least. The few major intimacy scenes are brilliant, in fact. Diana Galdaldon was able to convey the intensity of the moment without resorting to brash language.
I wanted More time for the lovers to talk and get to know each other, mentally and physically. Thus I gave the story 4 stars instead of 5. But I still gave the overall a 5, because it was excellent.
It actually both angers and scares me that anyone is so sexually repressed that they think this PG novel is too sexy or smutty. Of all the fantasy novels I've read, excluding Harry Potter :), and of all the romance novels I've read, the sexuality is mild, to put it lightly. There are some wonderful scenes, and they are needed and important as part of the story. But as I said, these are written with precision to avoid offensive language.
So to anyone who fits the uptight mold I describe- start looking for your fantasy books in the kids section.
I was skeptical at first, my fiance picked this book for me and after reading the description, I wasn't eager to listen. I even teased him a bit about the time travel element.
After exhausting my credits for the month, I grudgingly started Outlander and I am so happy I did! Oh my goodness! I could not believe how much I loved the book. I was drawn into this amazing story and the lives of all the characters. Diana Gabaldon paints a wonderful picture and Davina Porter is a fabulous narrator. I love that you know who is speaking before she even tells you.
I have listened to all 7 books without stopping to take a breath in between. Having just finished the last book in the series, I feel a little empty, like something is missing. I have been trying to pick a new book, but I feel a bit like I am cheating on Jamie and Claire.
My fiance, needless to say has been enjoying my addiction and has not missed an opportunity to say "I told you so!".
I thought this was a historical romance series, but it must be the least romantic one ever. Is it supposed to be literary BDSM fare, some sort of better-written Fifty Shades? I only made it about halfway through before giving up in disgust. The style is not terrible, but the characters, especially the heroine, are awful.
Our heroine is a mostly-unconcerned bigamist, marrying after six weeks of time travel. Her chief antagonist and a sadistic tormentor in the past is the double of her 1940s husband. Her new 1740s husband gets a kick out of beating her with his belt, and she essentially acquiesces to his wisdom in doing so. He then basically says he'll rape her, except she gives in, so - not sure how we tally that one. Claire hadn't made much effort to get back to her time by the time I gave up, but she had been nearly-raped 3 or 4 times and there's been the one beating of her and several beatings or stories of beatings or other abuse of Jamie or other characters. It feels like she's a feckless wimp and our author is getting a kick out of brutalizing Claire a little and Jamie a lot.
I don't know what other people get out of this, but I didn't want to subject myself to 16 more hours. From what I've read since, it sounds like it just gets uglier.
Claire. And 1740s Randall.
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