The novel Outlander first came to light in 1991. It was just the beginning, as author Diana Gabaldon went on to write seven more books to continue the epic story. Personally, I have not read the book, or seen the TV series based off of it. However, after extensive research on its subject matter, I must say I’ll be making a trip to Barnes and Noble to purchase it.
The story is set in World War II era, and its main focus is on a modern woman named Claire. She and her husband are on a second honeymoon, and they go see the standing stones in Inverness, Scotland. One thing leads to another, and Claire faints. When she wakes, she finds herself submerged in a different time. The year is 1743. Scottish clansmen take Claire, and are suspicious of her because of her clothes and attitude. They see her as a “Gall,” which means Outlander—someone ignorant of Gaelic culture.
Claire becomes entangled with the story’s villain, Captain Randall, who accuses her of being an English spy. She meets Jamie, the protagonist, and they get married. This makes Claire a Scottish citizen. However, that does not solve all her problems. In addition to being chased by Randall and his men, Claire falls in love with Jamie. She is torn between staying with Jamie and trying to get back to her husband.
The conflicts in this novel represent three genres of literature. It’s largely classified as historical fiction, because of the time period it’s set in. Gabaldon’s extensive research on the historical timeline she follows is impressive and intriguing. Over the course of the eight books, readers learn about Scotland’s customs, culture, and history. In addition, the romance elements that weave through the novels are captivating and inspiring. Claire struggles emotionally by being indecisive about which life she wants. Her life with her husband seemed happy enough, but with Jamie she found adventure and excitement. As well as historical fiction and romance, Outlander features science fiction. The time travel and magical components of the story gives it an escapist appeal. The way that Outlander intertwines multiple genres gives it an edge because it attracts a multitude of readers.
While the story itself is intriguing, you may find yourself wondering how and why Outlander was written. Gabaldon had originally planned to write a strictly historical fiction novel, but did not have a setting in mind. She happened to watch War Games, where a man in a kilt caught her eye. The image of the Scottish man stayed in her mind, and she decided to have Outlander set in eighteenth century Scotland. As for the novel being purely historical fiction, Gabaldon blames her main character, Claire. Gabaldon says that once she started writing Claire, the character took over and became something entirely different than what she had initially planned. She decided to have Claire be a modern woman that falls into a different era. Adding romance and science fiction is what made Outlander so stimulating. The historical, romantic, and fantasy aspects make this book a triple threat.