Outlander by Diana Gabaldon was one of my first forays into the fantasy genre. I discovered this book through the tv show. Upon reading the book, I found myself drawn towards Gabaldon’s detailed storytelling and well-drawn characters.
Claire Randall is the book’s strong female lead who finds herself transported two centuries back. Coming to grips with reality, she starts a quest for understanding how she got to where she is. Along the way, her life gets tangled with those she encounters, making it hard for her to decide where she belongs.
The novel bridges several literary genres, including fantasy, historical fiction, adventure and romance. There are elements of fantasy in this novel, but not enough to categorize it in the fantasy genre, with the likes of A Song of Ice and Fire. Likewise, the same is the case concerning its categorization as historical fiction, adventure and romance. There is a proportional mix of each in the story, making it hard to categorize the novel and hence giving it mass appeal.
The story depicts striking character differences between those living in the 1900s and those living in the 1700s. Claire Randall is unaccustomed to the norms and traditions of those living in the 1700s. This unusual change in setting causes hardships for Claire as she tries to fit in and at the same time, it provides comic relief.
As a reader, I found myself wishing there was a more thought out premise behind the time travel aspect; however, considering an otherwise extremely captivating storyline, I got past that. Claire Randall is a fascinating character to have come across in literature. Claire’s unique perspective as someone who has lived in the 20th century and is aware of how history played out, gives her the confidence to speak her mind, often to the shock and ridicule of those around her. For the reader, who understands Claire’s complete journey, these moments are highly captivating.
The above positives as a whole made it easy for me to overlook the unexplained time travel aspect of the novel. It is Diane Gabaldon’s excellent writing and deep understanding of Scotland in the 1700s that kept me immersed in the story. The characters have enough dept to linger on in one’s mind long after finishing the book. This first book in the series in beautifully satisfying on its own.
Rating: 4 / 5