I watched the TV programme Outlander on Amazon Prime a year or two ago. I quite enjoyed season 1, got bored in season 2, and gave season 3 up after one episode. I liked the Scottish countryside, I liked the Highlanders, Claire annoyed me to no end but she was relatively bearable (until France). Anyway, I had a (very) lengthy conversation with a colleague a while ago that had me promising to read the books. I waited until they were on a kindle sale because good luck getting an Outlander in the library.
If you don’t know, outlander is about a WW2 nurse, Claire Randall, who is on a trip to Scotland with her historian husband Frank shortly after the war has ended. There, she ends up falling through the standing stones, and wakes in 1754 Scotland, at the start of the Scottish uprising against the crown in support of Bonnie Prince Charles. Claire ends up being taken to the Clan Mackenzie, where her skills as a nurse are put to good use, she makes friends with the local witch, and finds highlander Jamie incredibly attractive while she plots her way back to her own time, and her husband. Fast forward a bit, and she is married to Jamie.
Right. First off. THIS BOOK NEVER ENDS. Well, it does, at 868 pages. Not my longest book by far, but I think if I had read this without seeing the TV show first, I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more. I got to the point about halfway through where I was just wondering when something new was going to happen because I knew everything already. I suppose its good, in a way, the TV series is a very close adaptation to the book, very close. There are a few things towards the end that are changed for it to make better watching, but overall, 9/10 for sticking to the plot writers. Good for fans of the book, not good if you’re coming the other way. I think, for this particular book, I would rather watch what is going on, rather than reading it all through Claire’s (quite frankly annoying) voice.
And there’s the other thing. Claire Fraser, with her holier-than-thou attitude can be really quite irritating. I like how she gives what for, and that all her clanspeople respect her in her own right by the end, but she does go of on soliloquies at such an alarming frequency I am surprised the book isn’t longer. At least in the TV show, they show things that are happening elsewhere (sometimes with a Claire-over, sometimes not) which makes the narrative grate a little less.
I enjoyed the descriptions of Highlander life, and how Jamie constantly surprises Claire. I like how the descriptions of the castle were accompanied by how much it smelt, little things like that. Again, I couldn’t help but compare the descriptions in the book to the beautiful cinematography of Scotland in the show. Hearing descriptions is good, seeing them is better. But not always, the descriptions of violence in this book are brutal and gory and vivid. The descriptions were done very well.
I think my problem with this is that I saw the show first. There were no surprises, and that just makes it a really long book with a vaguely irritating protagonist. I can see why people would enjoy the book, I really can, but my personal preference is to say – I’d rather watch the show. The view is prettier. I gave this book a 3* on goodreads, mostly because my overwhelming sense at the end of the book was relief that it was over. I have no intention of picking up any of the other books in the series.