1,411 of 1,481 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2000
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU COMPLETELY LOST YOUR HEART TO A BOOK? Well, look no further. Diana Gabaldon has created the ultimate escape in Outlander. Don't let the 850 pages dissuade you. It's the fastest read you'll ever have.
The epic tale begins when Claire Randall, a young combat nurse in World War II, moves to Scotland with her beloved husband to reignite their marriage interrupted by the war. Hiking one day, Claire accidentally passes through the stones of an ancient stone circle and wakes up to find herself in 18th century Scotland. Lost, alone, and confused (yet determined), Claire's path crosses, and is inextricably linked to, a young Highland warrior... James Fraser. (The kind of man women want, and men want to BE.) The story that ensues would make Shakespeare proud-- danger, suspense, passion, betrayal, true love and tragedy. Gabaldon is a master storyteller. She shrouds her fantasy in just enough reality as to completely seduce her readers.
The time travel element as well as the romance, while unconventional for a "serious" historical novel, are handled brilliantly by Gabaldon. That said, this book is not for the faint of heart as the author tackles themes of a violent and sexual nature. However, the story is so realistic and beautifully told that it doesn't come off as a ploy to shock readers. Well-crafted and meticulously researched, Outlander is historical fiction at its finest... and so much fun! The hero and heroine come alive. You'll find yourself living and breathing in their world, anxiously devouring each chapter.
WARNING: have the next three books in the series handy. Once you turn the last page of Outlander, you won't want to return to the 21st century. I couldn't get to the bookstore fast enough. And, Gabaldon does not disappoint...
788 of 846 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2001
I must admit, the synopsis on the back of this tome threw me off. I didn't think I would be much interested in a romance novel based on time travel -- it just seemed way too implausible. However, at the persistence of several friends from a book group, I gave this novel a try. I am certainly grateful that I did. Firstly, this is not merely a romance novel. It involves a romance, to be sure, but this romance is not one you'd find again and again in your average Harlequin. This is an original romance, which so completely describes love that I found myself better understanding love than I did at the onset of the novel. When a novel has the capacity to make you understand something as vague as love, you know it is good.
It is also filled with adventure, religion, and human conscience. A historical novel rarely has the ability to make me understand things about my own presence, and yet, Outlander simply did. I was unable to put this book down, as enraptured as I was by the compelling writing.
The character development is beyond any I have lately read. Dianna Gabaldon has a true gift for understanding human emotion and translating it for the rest of us to understand.
If you fear that the plot seems to be a bit too "outlandish" for you, still, give this one a try. While certain aspects may be unbelievable, the reality is, this novel has so much truth to it, you will be amazed. I was.
660 of 763 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2005
For those who view this page to see what books other than Outlander that Diana Gabaldon wrote, look somewhere else. This is Outlander but published under a different name in Britain. Since it wasn't stated anywhere, I thought I might clarify it. I loved Outlander so I gave it 5 stars, though 4 1/2 might be more correct.
289 of 332 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2000
I don't normally like books written in the first person. I *loved* "Outlander" (known as "Cross Stitch" in New Zealand). I read "Outlander" on the recommendation of a good friend and immediately fell in love with Jamie (as any living, breathing woman would).
The book is rich in history, romance, drama... It has the qualities of a true epic, easily rivalling such classics as "Gone With the Wind".
Claire Randall is the reader's guide into the story and throughout it's sequels. It's through her eyes that we are introduced to the way of life and harsh truths in those times. If you've never been to Scotland, you will be dying to go "Jamie Hunting" by the end of this book.
For new Gabaldon readers, Outlander is the one to start with. Do not even attempt to read any of the sequels first. Even though it is not crucial to read them in order, you will get the most enjoyment by doing so. The second and third books in the series are not nearly as good. It is only the enjoyment of reading about familiar characters that kept me going. Nevertheless, by the time you have read all four books, you will be hungering for more.
"Outlander" is the ultimate Gabaldon test. You will either hate it or love it. If you hate it, you won't read anything by Gabaldon ever again. If you love it, you won't be able to eat, drink or sleep until you have read the others.
I am happy to say that I definitely belong in the latter category.
1,524 of 1,785 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2007
I'm a librarian and do a lot of reading. I also consider myself to be quite liberal and open-minded. I am also an abuse survivor, a fact which comes into play here.
A colleague of mine handed me this book, since she knows of my love for historical fiction. And I must agree, I was hooked immediately. The imagery is lush, the characters intriguing, the history of the Highlands absorbing. I found Claire to be an independent, intelligent woman and Jamie a brutish if not lovable man. Then I came to a part about 200+ pages in ******SPOILER ALERT****** where, after trying to get back to the place where she was originally swept back in time, so she could return to her husband, Claire is captured by the English troops. She is placed in another precarious situation with the sadistic Captain Randall, and Jamie literally swoops in to save her. High adventure all around, and they do escape. But what follows afterwards is Jamie's decision to beat Claire with his sword belt. Claire puts up a fight but is no match for the large Scotsman and is beaten so much that she cannot sit or ride a horse for days. Gabaldon has Claire go through a deep moment of introspection where she realizes she is indeed impetuous and has been careless of the people in this time and of their land and ways...in this way, then, the beating is justified, and might even be seen as romantic and passionate as of course, Jamie and Claire make up afterward.
This incident may not bother some, but I would just like to post a warning to women who have suffered any sort of abuse (physical, sexual or otherwise) or trauma. I feel betrayed somehow and am not sure if I can continue reading the novel after this. I have a hard time seeing a woman who has been beaten and stripped of her power return to that very same man and continue on in a loving relationship with him. To me, abuse is not love. My history undoubtedly distorts the scene of the book, but unfortunately, the damage has been done, and what once may have been a wonderful literary excursion is forever ruined for me.
75 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2011
At one point, I so really wanted to hail this book as a great novel, but after finishing it, I am disappointed to say that it's just ok. I tried to forgive the literary mistakes but towards the end, it was just too much. The novel starts out strong, but, like another reviewer said, the ending is weak and messy.
The good stuff:
The author has a knack for descriptions and expertly paints a historical portrait of 17th century Scotland that really makes you feel like you are there. The two main characters of the book are well developed. You really fall in love with the protagonist's flame. Gabaldon gives him qualities any woman would desire in a man, and his faults just make him feel all the more real. The author builds up the love story, and some of the sex scenes are quite erotic. At times the story is really enjoyable, adventurous and suspenseful.
The bad stuff:
The book is too long. The story just goes on and on seemingly forever, with so much violence and so many conflicts that, after a while, it tends to lose credibility. Some of the situations the protagonist Claire finds herself in are unlikely. After the millionth time she is rescued, it just gets to be silly. Eventually, the sex gets to be too much and some of it is just plain absurd. Rabbit-like sex following near death, sex on the point of death; it's just too much. Furthermore, the author makes two major mistakes in her writing which completely deter from the enjoyment of the story. One involves witchcraft and presents a situation in which the reader, knowing the same things as the protagonist, can see the situation coming a mile away whereas the protagonist does not. It just makes Claire seem stupid, which is contradictory to the way her character is originally presented. The second situation has to be the biggest cliche of all time. Two men fighting, the woman helplessly watching, and finally the villain sneaks up behind the woman, grabs her and threatens to kill her unless her lover stops fighting. I think I've seen this happen already in about a dozen movies. As a matter of fact, there are two instances in the book where the heroes have a clear shot of killing the villain but they fail to do so. From there on, the story goes downhill and climaxes in a hot mess involving wolves, cows and bear-men.
Overall, I suspect the book got a lot of high ratings because most of the readers are women in desperate need of some steamy excitement in their lives. However, I cannot give a book 5 stars with so many blatant shortcomings, adding to the fact that it most likely appeals to a select range in the population and not to a wide audience. I mean, come on people. This is not Tolstoy or Richard Adams or Tolkien. It's more like Twilight-series-quality work. So, weighing in all the good and bad, I would have to say this novel deserves 3 stars.
110 of 128 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2009
After reading the enthusiastic reviews here, I was hoping for a book that might be similar in substance to Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth" or some of Rosemary Laker's books. I was very disappointed and, at times, disgusted by this book. I finished it, but it was a chore, and I'm still trying to figure out how all those 5-star reviewers could excuse the story's serious deficiencies and its over-the-top sadism.
The author shows a talent for writing an adventure tale, but the action comes at the expense of good character development. The perils and violence came at such breakneck speed that this was an exhausting read, and I thought Gabaldon's obsession with corporal punishment bordered on perversion. If I could bear to open this book again, I'd go back and count the number of pages devoted to the detailed descriptions of floggings and beatings. I'd guess it's around 50 of the book's 800 pages.
The ultimate downfall of the story is that it didn't take advantage of the many interesting opportunities to develop the premise and the character's predicament. Claire's transition to the hardships of the 18th century was far too easy, and she seemed to share little if any surprise at what she encountered. She's a character who was opinionated and very talky about some issues, but she barely mentioned her reaction to the clothing she was forced to wear, the social customs, the filth and poor hygiene (I don't remember her ever taking a full bath or brushing her teeth or dealing with her periods) and the many other conditions that would be shocking to a 20th century woman -- especially to one that showed a tendency to be vain in the beginning of the book.
These problems were compounded by the fact that Claire herself was just not very likable. I really wanted to like her and this book and read the whole series, but one book by this author was more than enough.
130 of 153 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2006
To clarify further from other reviews, this version of Outlander was also published in Australia which is where I purchased a copy.
Cross Stitch takes you on the most unbelievable rollercoaster road as far as your emotions are concerned. I think I cried about 7 times at various different points throughout the book, sometimes from joy and other times from sadness. It is a fierce and passionate love story as well as being an accurate interpretation of life in the 1700 & 1900's, with many historical references throughout.
The main character Claire is a strong, intelligent and sometimes feisty woman who is very lovable. She's married to Frank Randall in the year 1945 and manages to go back in time to the year 1743 in which she meets Frank's sinister ancestor Captain Black Jack Randall and flees into the arms of a few Scottish clansmen. That's when the real story begins!
What really impressed me about this book was Gabaldon's realistic interpretation of the historical events of England and Scotland and the way in which she paints the world the characters live in. It ignited a passion in me to learn more about the times for that particular era which no other book I've read has been able to do. Having never been to the UK, I find myself wanting to visit the Scottish highlands and see for myself the landscapes that she painted so vividly in my mind and to visit their forts and castles.
Cross Stitch is a highly satisfying book, which gets my hearty vote of 5 out of 5!
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2003
The general story holds great promise. The character of Jamie is delightful and appealing. Claire is self righteous and hard to like. It's not intellectual but lots of fun for the first 672 pages. Skip the ending . It really breaks the spell. At one point in the story, Jamie asks "what is a sadist?" Well I suppose Ms. Gabaldon thinks her readers fit this category. The sexual violence is appalling. It made me very angry and I could not bring myself to read the details after awhile. I can't believe she treated her hero with such excess. And the psychological healing was crap. I unfortunately bought the next 2 books in the series but I will not be reading them.
61 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2006
Although the writing style is superb and the novel has every element, I can not get over the rape, wife beating, which there is no excuse that I find acceptable, and general violence that pervades the book. If I could stomach it, then I would have really enjoyed the book. But for me, it ruined the whole thing. So, if you have a tendancy to flinch at blood, don't read it in spite of the great reviews. Because I felt disturbed when I put the book down, not eager to read another. Jamie is great hero overall, but personally, after the beating Claire took and brutal sex which followed it in the story, I never forgave him no matter what he did to make up for it.