It’s a book series which has been around for over twenty-five years. It’s a hugely successful TV show with a cult following. It’s falling in love with Jamie, the daring ginger Highlander. It’s Outlander.
When I saw that there was a new show airing on Amazon Instant Video called Outlander, I wasn’t too concerned with watching it. Instead, I continued binge watching some terrible cop drama… until an advert for Outlander popped up. I was transfixed. I watched it as it aired, and became so enthralled with the historical fiction, the clothes, the accent, the acting, that I went out and bought a copy of the book upon which it was based, by Diana Gabaldon, also published as Cross Stitch in the UK.
The Outlander book series is most certainly a behemoth. The books are around 600 pages each and are filled with details about the Highland way of life, interspersed with Gaelic and absolutely riveting in the fact that time travel is involved. I mean, I’m personally not a fan of the time travel trope, but Gabaldon makes it work. She really makes it work.
Outlander is the story of Claire Randall, who journeys to Inverness with her husband, Frank, after the Second World War to get to know each other again. Whilst there, Claire finds herself transported through a stone circle to 1743, a time very different to her own. With no apparent way to return to Frank, or her own time, Claire embarks on a journey full of excitement, terror and the occasional bout of compassion.
As I said, I read the book after watching the TV show. I honestly believe that made it slightly easier to read, because I had a visual picture of 18th century Scotland, I had images of the characters, and a pretty good grasp of the accent, so it wasn’t as foreign as it might have been pre-show.
Having said that, it did differ from the TV show in ways that most adaptations do – there was more detail in the book, the Gaelic was harder to read as it wasn’t phonetic, there were things that were altered for ease of watching because some descriptions are hard to take to the screen.
Since reading the first book and falling even more in love with the Scottish tale, I’ve gone out and bought the rest of the series. Personally I find them easier to read on the Kindle because then I’m not constantly checking how far through each book I am, but you might feel satisfaction with a book that size.
Overall, I think that Outlander is a challenging but rewarding and truly enjoyable read. It fits into so many genres I can’t even list them all, and the added bonus is that Sam Heughan brings Jamie to life so well! I can’t wait to finish the series and continue with the TV show. If you’re looking for something with a bit of a bite to read over the summer, there’s nothing better than Outlander!