Book Review 112: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Posted on September 3, 2015 «
Categories: 2015 Shelf Love, book review, the Encore «
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The Encore replaces my Rewind Review feature. This feature will give me the opportunity share older reviews and posts, and reviews of books I’ve re-read. I hope you’ll join in the conversation, share your thoughts on re-reads and older discussion posts. Enjoy!

SPOILER ALERT! Since this is a re-read, this review will probably contain spoilers. Proceed with caution!

book review outlander diana gabaldon

Outlander is a book that is near and dear to my heart. It is responsible for kicking off my adult reading life thanks to a suggestion from a co-worker back in 2001 or 2002. It’s the book that made me discover historical fiction books with a twist of science fiction. Jamie Fraser is my first (and only) book boyfriend. Outlander is the first eBook I ever purchased and my first Audible download. I’ve loaned out my copy of Outlander so many times I’ve lost count. It also had not been returned so many times that I’ve lost count. And my current copy, purchased from Half Price Books, will not be loaned out because its cover is unique and I don’t want to give it up. Outlander is responsible for me connecting with lots of my co-workers and other authors. It’s the reason I binge on time travel and historical fiction novels.

Why I Re-Read Outlander

Technically I didn’t re-read Outlander I re-listened to it between Season 1, Part 1 and Season 1, Part 2 of the Starz TV show. This audiobook is over 30 hours long and my commute is a total of 40 minutes. It took a LONG time to listen to the whole thing, but as is usually case with this novel, I loved every minute of it. The plus side to a short commute, Jamie and Claire’s wedding night lasted at least 3 days. Hot! The down side, Jamie’s capture and torture by Black Jack lasted at least 3 days. Heartbreaking! Another plus side now that I’m eight books into the series and engrossed in the television series, I noticed things I hadn’t noticed before.

Things I Noticed This Time
  • I wanted more Frank. The show has forced me to see Claire’s disappearance through Frank’s eyes. Poor guy. He gets married, gets shipped off to war, reunites with is wife, goes on a honeymoon and she disappears. What the hell is he doing while Claire is galavanting in the Scottish Highlands 200 years in the past? How does he feel since the love of his life vanished? Thanks Starz for raising my awareness of Frank’s plight through…oops…better stop there almost spoiled something.
  • Did you know that Jenny actually uses phrase “my own heart’s blood” the title for book 8 in the series?
  • I hated Black Jack more. The show did it. Apparently my imagination isn’t nearly as powerful as I thought. But if I watch something and then read it…whoa, watch out. Black Jack is evil. And since I was listening to this around the same time as the release of Fifty Shades of Grey and while we were watching the latest season of Game of Thrones, I was drawing some not nice parallels between Jack, Christian Grey and Ramsay Bolton.
  • A lot has happened in my life since I first read and eventually listened to Outlander the first time. Jamie’s description of his emotional state after his torture and sexual assault hit home for me this go around.

    “Now it’s like…like my own fortress has been blown up with gunpowder—there’s nothing left of it but ashes and a smoke rooftree, and the little naked thing that lived there once is now out in the open, squeaking and whimpering in fear, tryin’ to hide itself under a blade of grass or a bit o’ leaf, but…but not…makin’ m-much of a job of it.”
  • The emotion packed into those sentences broke my heart. Jamie has been so strong through so much of the book and to see him broken and afraid…*sniffles*
  • The Wedding. Seeing the Wedding on the TV show from Jamie’s point of view was twist I didn’t see coming. Going back to the book it was fun to know something Claire didn’t. Everything that Jamie went through to make sure she was getting the proper wedding while she was busy drowning her sorrows made my heart swell.
  • Ned Gowan is still my favorite tertiary character of the series. Ned doesn’t know Claire’s secret, but he does know she’s a smart woman. He admires that and provides Claire assistance in a time when women didn’t earn respect easily. He’s cagey and witty. He’s a good man and one has got to admire that when everyone else (save Jamie) is out to find out who Claire is.
A Mystery I Missed and Am Not Sure Has Been Resolved

I’m hoping my other Outlander friends can help me out here. There was a conversation between Jamie and Claire shortly after they are married that gave me pause. I can’t recall if this has been settled or not. Perhaps our collective knowledge of the books will solve the mystery.

At least once Jamie mentions that he’ll tell Claire why he married her. One of those points happens shortly after they return to the Castle and Jamie has just come back from his visit with Laoghaire.

“Claire,” he said evenly, “I shall tell ye in my own time why I’ve wed ye—or I won’t.”

I thought I recall at one point Jamie saying there were at least 3 reasons he married Claire. So here’s my question, at any point in any of the 8 books does Jamie explain why he married Claire? If not, it makes that shadowy figure that Frank encounters at the start of Outlander all the more mysterious and haunting.

Outlander holds a dear spot in my heart and on my bookshelf. It is the only series I own many of the books in multiple formats (paperback, eBook and audiobook). The characters come alive for me on the pages each time I pickup one of the books. And while, Voyager, book 3 in the series, is still my absolute favorite, this is the book that started it all. It is a big book, but it is worth every minute of your first read or your fifth read. For me, it’s like coming home again each time I pick it up again.


book review outlander diana gabaldon

The Quick Review

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.


Author: Diana Gabaldon
Narrator: Davina Porter
Published on: July 13, 2006
Pages: 642
Length: 33 hours, 8 minutes
Series: Outlander #1
Genres: adult, historical fiction, romance, time travel, adult
Goodreads • Amazon Affiliate Link
My Rating: Thumbs Up



book review outlander diana gabaldon


20 responses to “Book Review 112: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

  1. TheSeedQueen

    I’ve been meaning to reread Outlander, but I lent my copy out. Watching the TV series makes me realize how much I have forgotten since my original reading.

    Love the new feature!

  2. With the TV show out, I’m hearing a lot about Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I’ll definitely be interested to check the book out. It’s interesting how much you realized you’ve forgotten or just didn’t notice the first time around when you reread a book. I like your new feature 🙂

    • I recommend reading (or listening) to books 1-3. Book 3 is my favorite.
      Once the books dive into American History, I am way less interested in them. I was not a fan of book 8 which released recently.

      However, at this point, the show is a “verra” faithful adaptation and there is some depth added to characters like Frank add a point of view I’d never considered before.

  3. I JUST finished reading Outlander a few days ago and have my own review of it going up on the blog next week! So it was fun to stumble across this post today. I just started the series and am looking forward to reading the other books. It’s refreshing to read historical fiction with characters who can be sympathetic while not always being strictly likable or who simply don’t have 21st century outlooks. So often supposedly historical characters feel like modern people in fancy costumes and that’s just not the case with Jamie, Dougal or Jack. So interesting!

    (On a side note, I totally agree that the series is making me think so much more about Frank and I love it! Although I haven’t gotten into the later books, I definitely felt that his POV was missing rather a lot from the book so I love the added 20th century flashbacks/forwards.)

  4. I haven’t seen the show or read the books yet but I am interested, even a little intimidating by the size of it haha. But you said it’s worth it so I think it would be great! The characters sound so full of depth, even Black Jack in all his evil-ness. Great review!

    • Black Jack is the ultimate villain. He’s gets in your head and just makes your shiver.

      Like I told Stormi, try the first 100 pages or so. Most people I’ve recommended the book got to that point and couldn’t put it down.

  5. Heard so much about this book but the size intimidates me as I am not a huge fan of large books. I do have it on ebook and grabbed the audio cheap because i had the ebook, so I have to ways of reading if I wanted..just still not sure…lol.

  6. So since I haven’t read the book, I skimmed this a bit because I AM curious about the book, and kind of hope that someday I may read it. But holy CRAP- 33 hours!?!??! I… wow. That’s a long time! I do want to watch the show too, but I don’t have the fanciness of Starz 😉 AND I should probably read the books first anyway. How many will there be? I see 9 on Goodreads, will that be the last one? So many questions 😉 Glad you love this series so much though!

    • Yes, 33 hours! Thank goodness for iPods. I have book 3 on CD. ? it’s worth the time. Although the TV series, at this point, is a “verra” faithful adaptation so if that’s all you have time for, I would give that a shot.

      And there are 8 books. I recommend the first 3 for sure! After that I’m less enthusiastic about them.

  7. I had the same experience of everything you said— I was given it back before I read other romance novels and then I tried some and was so disappointed–Outlander spoiled me for romance novels…..I trade, re read, and also listen to the books on my commute to and from work–in fact, makes me look forward to the drive….and even though, I have read and re read these books, I can pick one up at any place and be instantly transported into Jamie and Claire’s world wherever they are….and I pick up something I missed the other four or five times!!! Quite amazing!!!! I have also loaned and bought multiple copies of the first 3 books to friends and never find any in the used book stores!!

    • Yes, other romance novels don’t seem to measure up after finishing this one. There is so much depth in the relationship and the plot in general that you are always discovering new things.