[The Outlander] Spoiler Alert Thread

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[The Outlander] Spoiler Alert Thread

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Fev 9, 2011, 3:57pm

The subject rather speaks for itself.

This book is a real door-stopper. However, that being said, it is a quick and fun read. I hope everyone enjoys it as I have the 3 or 4 times I have read it and I fully intend to enjoy this reread as well.
Ms Gabaldon has a way of fleshing out her characters that makes the reading of a book so filled with different characters much easier than most would be.

Fev 23, 2011, 10:07am

I'm not too sure where to start with this thread, so I'll just repost my review of the book that I recently posted. Here it is:

First of all, let me say that this book has soared up to my favorite list. I read the reviews and plot summaries several months ago and knew I would most likely enjoy it, but I didn't expect the extent to which I would absolutely love it. But oh, how pleasantly surprised I was!

I guess my very first observation would be the size of the book itself. Just looking at the book and picking it up you realize that you're in for a massive undertaking. This might scare some readers away. I have to admit something at this point- I am very guilty of being an anxious reader. ANY book I read winds up being read in haste the first time through. Not out of boredom or displeasure, just because I want to know the entire story immediately and get very antsy when it takes too long. I wish I could hold a book up to my head and just absorb it in it's entirety through osmosis. Being that isn't possible, I tend to fly through books and often miss important things or don't even enjoy them as I should. Longer books don't really scare me, but they remind me that I'll be even more restless by the end, whether i enjoy it or not.

This book, however, did not seem long in the least, and I can't stress that enough. It's over 650 pages, and even being the very slow reader that I tend to be, I not only flew through the book but absorbed it and wanted more. I found myself well into the 300's on my second day reading it, and finished the whole thing in six days... and it only took so long because I had other, non-related distractions to kept my from reading as much as I normally would. So for those who are worried about the size of the book, please don't hesitate to pick it up anyway and give it a try.

As far as the accuracy of the historical part of the book, I just have to take everyone's word on it. And quite frankly, I don't even care whether it's accurate or not. I take fiction as it is... accept that some things may be accurate while others just imagination. Whatever. As long as the story is interesting and doesn't claim to be fact, I'm ok with whatever an author comes up with. As far as this particular story, I was indeed fascinated by the descriptions of the Scottish Highlands of 1743, the clansmen and the way of life.

I also enjoyed the characters. Claire, the heroine of the tale, isn't the most outstanding character I've ever read but she's certainly believable and likable enough. Her personality, demeanor and behavior contrast really well with those of the women of the 1700s, but her knowledge of the time-period allows her to understand what is accepted and normal, and therefore it's even believable that she would be able to survive among those people. All the clansmen are as I would expect them to be.... burly, rowdy, gruff, often times surly and short-tempered. But also very quick to laugh and joke around with one another during times of relaxation. The scenes when they are gathered at night, drinking whiskey and laughing together are somehow warm and comforting. Jaime, the clansman who Claire eventually forms a relationship with, is very like those men, but we see his more vulnerable and romantic side as the story unfolds. Unfortunately, we also are exposed the temper of a Scotsman and the normal treatment of their wives, but as harsh as it seems to us now, it wasn't out of the ordinary then. Sensitive readers may be put off by this, but I took it as just a fact of how things were.

There are also several scenes that become hot and heavy as Claire and Jaime begin to explore the physical aspect of their relationship. Personally, I enjoyed it immensely (and I'm still not sure what that says about me) but I have noted several reviewers complaining that there is too much sex in the book, and that some of the sex is too aggressive.
Like I said.... those scenes left me sort of wishing I'd time-travel back to 1743, just so that I could be thrown around a little by a muscular, handsome, red-headed Scot... so I can't really see eye-to-eye with those complaints.

The story itself had very few slow moments. There was a lot of up and down action, times of peace and exploration, followed by violent clashes or quick escapes. But as the book went on I wasn't really anxious to get back to either or... and each new phase fell nicely into place after the last. Each chapter, each moment of the book served a purpose whether it be learning more about the culture, character or plot development, adding back story, enlightening the reader with an explanation for previous events or behavior, deepening of a relationship, adding suspense or action or just for pure entertainment's sake. There really was never a moment in the entire 650+ pages that I wanted to put the book down, even for a small break. And as someone who gets very anxious to know the ending of the story, I didn't feel rushed to finished or irritated by the length. I was more than happy to continue along with the story and allow it to unfold before me, without that little voice in the back of my mind going, "FINE, but what happens NEXT!?!?!" Most importantly, when I finished and put the book down, I was slightly peeved that I didn't have the foresight to get the second installment ahead of time and begrudgingly picked up a different book in the meantime. And that is really saying a lot.

In conclusion- love love love love love. =)

Mar 3, 2011, 5:20am

This is my third read (and I've read the rest of the series too).

One thing that struck me the first time was a couple of hints that the 'modern' section was originally set in the 1970s, and Gabaldon later set it back to the 1946/7. But I can't now find the passage/s that caught my eye. Has anyone else noticed this? Its clear why it needed to be set then - by the 1970s no nurse would have any kind of understanding of natural remedies, and probably not much experience with the results of battle.

Does everyone realise that this was Gabaldon's first attempt at a novel? Agreed, she was used to technical writing, but I am amazed at the quality, particularly speech, which many authors never pull off believably. And the research!!

Editado: Mar 22, 2011, 10:15am

I just finished it and was certainly blown away by the writing. I thought that there were certain parts that lacked a little in fitting with the story but overall I really enjoyed it. Not sure that I'm ready to jump into the next one in the series but will definitely continue sometime along the line.

It was very thought provoking because of the changes in her circumstances throughout the book.

I have a few lingering questions.....

Did Clare really love Frank so little that after a few months she could just turn her back on her world and stay with Jamie or was this an inconsistency that was plot driven? Seems difficult to believe since she stayed so faithful through the war for 8 years and then in heartbeat just gives up.

If this happened to me would I be able to adapt to the changes in the environment - modern vs. primitive conveniences ? I don't think so. Having known indoor plumbing, electricity, refrigeration, automobiles, planes etc. I don't think that I would be willing to go backwards into the camping lifestyle.

Mar 31, 2011, 11:15am

Still reading along with the book. I am enjoying it quite a bit. I am not ready to address your lingering questions yet, because I am not too far along. However, I did notice back at the very beginning of the book how the Vicar and Frank were discussing Frank's ancestor and someone, I can't recall who, said that it was surprising that Randall survived -- that he must have had a mysterious guardian angel looking after him. So I was wondering if that explained in some way why she went back in time (albeit accidentally) and why she stayed. I am not far enough along to draw any conclusions. Can you tell that I have been watching The Terminator?

Mar 31, 2011, 5:36pm

OK, I just got to the part where Claire meets Captain Randall again, and let's just say that I don't see her wanting to be his guardian angel at this point!

Abr 1, 2011, 8:43am

Definitely, BJ! She doesn't appear to take a shining to him.

Abr 1, 2011, 10:28am

It is interesting to me how disconcerting it is for her to see him because he looks so much like Frank, but then he behaves so deplorably and not at all like Frank. I am almost halfway through now.

Abr 3, 2011, 12:52am

OK, things are getting kind of steamy here! She tried to get back to Frank without success (captured by the English). My new theory on why she would give up trying to get back is that her encounters with Captain Randall have confused her memories of Frank too much, so she wants to stay with what she knows or maybe she thinks she has been away too long. All speculation. I am just at the part where they return to the castle of the MacKenzies (can't recall the name). Sorry to be so far behind on this read.

Abr 3, 2011, 8:42am

no problem, billiejean, take it at your own pace.

you are in for some good stuff now.

Abr 4, 2011, 7:57am

Interesting thought there, billiejean - I had wondered why, as you say, she just gave in to being (bigamously?) married. Though I think she perhaps still felt she was in a dream and nothing she did was really real.

Abr 4, 2011, 8:44am

I kind of thought she felt that since Frank hadn't been born yet it wasn't really a bigamist situation and that if she ever got back to Frank, Jamie would be long dead, so ditto.

Abr 4, 2011, 1:45pm

Interesting thought that you have to be married to two people at the same time to be a bigamist. Clever!

Abr 6, 2011, 12:44pm

OK, I finally got to the part where she tells all to Jamie and he takes her to the stones so that she can get back. She does start back, but then Jamie grabs her and pulls her back to his time to make sure she is ok. So, why did she then decide to stay?

I think still that her memories of Frank are clouded by the encounters with Randall. She hasn't seen him in 6 months and before that they were separated for a number of years. And then she was wondering a little if he had had an affair while away from her. On the other hand, she has been with Jamie daily during this entire time, and he has risked all for her a number of times. And she knows that Jamie is there for her right then. Who knows what her relationship with Frank will be after 6 months apart with no explanation. I wonder if he would believe her? But then I think that she sensed that Frank was nearby when starting through the stones. She says that living in more primitive conditions is ok with her because she has done it a number of times with Uncle Lamb. That being said the trial for being a witch would definitely send me back. How scary is that? Plus, she knows about bad, bad times ahead for the clans. However, WW2 was a really bad time, too. Terrible things happened and lots of people died. Well, for all this rambling, I guess I don't really know why she decided the way she did. :)

Abr 6, 2011, 1:48pm


As for Claire staying, I think it's very complicated for her, but I believe some of the elements are that in Jamie's time, she feels alive, involved, and needed--never bored. In Frank's time, she does nothing but try to develop a hobby (botany) to keep her busy while Frank does his own thing. They lead very separate lives, and Frank does nothing to try to include her--she's very bored.

Abr 6, 2011, 3:30pm

That is a very good point. (And what a lucky hobby it was, too.) I had forgotten how often she talked about how bored she was.

Abr 6, 2011, 3:48pm

I'm re-reading the book. I've read the entire series, and own them (even some of the Lord John ones); I've completely enjoyed all but the last one, which seemed a bit contrived to me.

I am very much enjoying your posts, and enjoy having someone to discuss the book with.

Abr 6, 2011, 4:32pm

This is my first time to read this book. I agree that it is more fun having someone to discuss it with.

Abr 6, 2011, 8:41pm

I guess that Clare could be bored and choose the unusual circumstances with Jamie as more exciting, but I'm with billiejean - the witch trial would definitely send me back. Even if Frank didn't accept her back, I'd still be safe. I think I'm a more safe oriented person. I'd rather have my excitement in books!

Abr 7, 2011, 5:46am

I hadn't picked up on the boredom either. But I think that travelling between the stones was so terrifying that even the witch trial (since she escaped it and it was not likely to happen again) was not enough to make her try again to return. Plus, of course, she had developed increasing feelings for Jamie; and the points about Frank and Jack are well made. Too, she had been brought up in similar situations, so much in the 1740s would have felt more familiar than the 1940s.

Abr 7, 2011, 10:19am

#20 I agree that her upbringing also gave her a foundation for living successfully in the past.

Abr 7, 2011, 10:22am

Isn't is interesting how quickly she and Jamie come to care for each other even though the marriage was of necessity?

Abr 7, 2011, 10:31am

I think Jamie began caring for Claire from the moment he saw her, IMHO. Because she is in such a precarious position, it obviously takes Claire a bit longer, but once she and Jamie have their discussion, and she throws her lot in with that of Jamie, I believe she begins to experience an entirely different kind of love than that she had with Frank.

Jamie's love is one of nurturing, and a partnership of equals; Frank's is the love of a superior for an inconseqeuntial inferior. Surprisingly, Jamie's treatment of Clair is forward-thinking (way ahead of his time), while Frank's treatment of her is backward and would fit more easily in the 1740s.

Abr 7, 2011, 7:48pm

So do you think that Clare had a feeling in her subconscious that Frank may have been a bit like Captain Randall because of the resemblance and maybe that had something to do with her decision?

Abr 8, 2011, 10:42am

No, I don't think so. There's no doubt that Frank is a very selfish man, but he doesn't have any sadistic leanings, which clearly the captain does have: in spades!

Abr 9, 2011, 1:53pm

So, is everyone going to continue reading the series, and if so how soon?

Abr 9, 2011, 2:37pm

I think I would be interested in reading more of the series, but I am not sure when. My work obligations have picked up.

Abr 10, 2011, 9:34am

I've gotten the new two ready for reading/listening but I'm not ready for another chunkster just yet. Maybe later on this year for me.

Abr 12, 2011, 1:50pm

Let me know when, and I'll join you.

Abr 13, 2011, 10:44am

I am just to the part where Claire is in the prison rescuing Jamie (a nice turn of events!) and Randall comes in. I had forgotten about Jamie being left-handed. I am getting close to the exciting conclusion now, I think. I am wondering, doesn't Captain Randall have to survive for Frank? It would be so satisfying for him not to survive at this point.

Abr 13, 2011, 10:50am

Keep reading, Billiejean! It gets even more exciting as you go along. I swear.

I would think the captain would have to survive, but maybe not. It could be that the geneology chart Frank did was wrong, and there was another branch of his family tree from which he was descended, or maybe one of the great-grandmothers--somewhere along the line--had an affair.

Abr 15, 2011, 12:10am

I think I will continue the series too but not for awhile.

Regarding Randall/Frank I think maybe it will be like Back to the Future and Claire will go back to the 40s and find she's upset the space-time continuum!

I also wanted to share that I had a dream last night that I had Claire's hair (the way I imagined it would be I guess!). It was so nice because my real hair is super straight.

Abr 15, 2011, 9:00am

I finally finished the book last night. It is funny to me that they had the whole cows in the hallway event because I recently read another book which featured cows in an unusual place (underground in a sewer). What are the chances of two such books in just four months? And Randall dies in the cow stampede on a different day than he is supposed to and apparently without children. So is there still a Frank? Also, does anyone know why they have decided to go to Rome? And if the Duncan woman came from 1967, how would Claire have controlled the stones to get back to exactly her year?

I think that I am also interested in continuing the series, and I will look for the second book when I drop by the last days of the Borders going-out-of-business sale. I really enjoyed this group read.

Abr 15, 2011, 12:22pm

Excellent point about controlling the stones. Maybe that is looked at closer in a future book.

I plan on continuing the series as well (I love the characters), but have a few other chunky books waiting for me, so it will probably wait until later this summer.

Abr 15, 2011, 5:35pm

I have the next two in the series, but I'm not ready for it now, either. Late summer may be a possibility. When somebody's think of starting let me know...I think chunksters are easier in a group read, IMHO.

Abr 16, 2011, 2:12am

I would like to join in, too.

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