‘Outlander’ – A Scottish Tale

23 04 2009

Someone here in Lunenburg thought that I should know about the Scottish writer Diana Gabaldon. I was directed to the Outlander series of books, which seemed to be about time travel in Scotland. On looking up the author on Google I found that she was not Scottish but American! I headed to our local library and found the first book in the series – ‘Outlander’ or ‘Cross Stitch’ as it is entitled in the UK.

outlabderThis novel starts in Inverness in 1945, just after World War 2. The main character, Claire,has been a nurse in France and is now on a sort of second honeymoon with her husband. For a Scot reading this book there are so many factual errors, it makes it difficult to keep going. Claire is excited because the shelves in Scotland are replenished after the war and there is so much to eat! yet even I remember rationing until 1954. The minister’s housekeeper makes Oolong tea after only being able to buy Earl Grey during the war! And the Scots are made out to be a superstitious, pagan race, where women dance around the ‘Henge’ in sheets! This is really the biggest load of rubbish I’ve ever read, but I skimmed my way through it as I just hate to give up on a book.

The time travel comes when Claire falls through a stone in ‘the henge’ and goes back to 1743, meets a rough Highlander, marries him…… is beaten by him with a belt!!! and so it goes on.

I tried to write a review on Amazon and an ‘Outlander’ site, but there is so much emotion in the readers of this series that I only met with extreme opposition. It seems people like reading books with sex and violence in them. There are a few ‘bad’ reviews and warnings against reading these books, but they are put out of sight and only the 5 * ratings are shown at the top.

So, don’t waste your time with this book, unless we make up an Anti-Outlander Group.

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2 responses

3 06 2009
Jinglebob

Come now, arn’t you being a little harsh. The majority and I do mean majority just love these books. Overall just top notch.

4 06 2009
jackiequeen

That’s exactly what I said in my blog; that the majority love these books. But that doesn’t mean that the majority have any literary taste. I will add some ‘bad’ reviews from Amazon, to show that I’m not the only person who hates these books.

1.I think new readers deserve a wee bit o’ the Gabaldon’s deathless prose tae entice them in tae this masterpiece for all time, oh aye! Sae here ye are! (I especially like “spangled my eyelashes with rainbows” and “You – you can really ask that?”)

Jamie made a fire in a sheltered spot, and sat down next to it. The rain had eased to a faint drizzle that misted the air and spangled my eyelashes with rainbows when I looked at the flames.
He sat staring into the fire for a long time. Finally he looked up at me, hands clasped around his knees.
“I said before that I’d not ask ye things ye had no wish to tell me. And I’d not ask ye now; but I must know, for your safety as well as mine.” He paused, hesitating.
“Claire, if you’ve never been honest wi’ me, be so now, for I must know the truth. Claire, are ye a witch?”
I gaped at him. “A witch? You–you can really ask that?” I thought he must be joking. He wasn’t.
He took me by the shoulders and gripped me hard, staring into my eyes as though willing me to answer him.
“I must ask it, Claire! And you must tell me!”
“And if I were?” I asked through dry lips. “If you had thought I were a witch? Would you still have fought for me?”
“I would have gone to the stake with you!” he said violently. “And to hell beyond, if I must. But may the Lord Jesus have mercy on my soul and on yours, tell me the truth!”

There ye go! (or maybe, gae). If ye like that… read on (or oan).

2.Having plodded through a third of the book i just had to give up. Out of curiosity i looked at the reviews – and am AMAZED there are so many positive ones. The bit i disliked more than anything else was the attmpted scottish accent – ‘ye ken’ drove me mad! Like another reviewer i have no issue with Scots!! Not recommended – and agree with others, the historical accuracy is awful and equally irritating.

3. I decided to give this book a go after reading many of the good reviews it got. At over 800 pages I knew the pace could be slow to start but was prepared to give it a chance. However after about 300 pages I just couldn’t take anymore.

The pace was plodding at best. For instance, a whole chapter was given over to hunting a wild boar, and in my opinion didn’t add anything to the story. The main character, Jamie, wasn’t in the least bit appealing, and Claire seemed to relax into life two centuries before her time without too much difficulty.

But for me the worst part was that most of the speech was written in Scottish accents!! I have nothing against the accent. I have Scottish relatives, but it made for very stilted reading. Every other line was filled with talk of wee laddies and wee lassies. We know these people spoke with a Scottish accent. They live in Scotland for heaven’s sake. We don’t need to read with one. If a book is set in America do we all suddenly start reading with an American twang?

Sorry I just couldn’t read it all, and failed to even get halfway through. If this is the first in the series, I would hate to see the sequels.

Please , please, if you’re looking for a good time slip novel I would check out Barbara Erskine first.

Otherwise, ‘Hoots mon, pass me those bagpipes, ye wee lassie. I’ll tak a wee nip we it!!!’

4.A friend recommended this. What can I say to her? I only persisted with it because I had taken it on holiday. How can anyone find this mixture of inaccurate and lazy historical research, bad writing, soft porn and repetitive plotting enticing? Boars were extinct in Scotland by this time and how can a one-legged husband kneel at the bedside of his wife in labour? Ghastly book; it should have a mental health warning. Please, please don’t think that this is an accurate picture of Scotland in the 18th century.

5.Ok, I gave into the hype and after seeing the US version had over 1000 very good reviews I decided that i would buy it. After all, people accused Karen Marie Moning of ripping off these books in her highlander series, and I adored her books and devoured them all in a few weeks. So i was desperate for a new author.

I can only say how VERY dissapointed I was.

Firstly, call me narrow minded, but i DETEST books written in the first person. So to anyone out there like me ( I wish someone had written this in a review before i bought it) ITS WRITTEN IN THE FIRST PERSON!!

Secondly: I’m really not into ginger haired, virgin heroes that are described as the “young lad” and are all of 23 years old poverty stricken and constantly get hurt. its just not sexy.

Call me shallow i dont care. Nothing against ginger hair, but I just hate it in my heroes and heroines, yet writers constantly give them ginger hair and think by describing it as auburn or golden sunlight or many other trite euphemisms, that it will be gorgeous. Sorry, but with red hair comes millions of freckles and ginger pubes. My imagination cant assimilate it.

The story was boring, no explanation of how the hell she got sent back in time. She’s married to two people at the same time. Great role model.

Either do an historical novel and make it exciting, like Ken Follett, or stick to romance and make it that. Romance. There is nothing romantic about not having a bath for months and having twigs in your mane of curly frizzy hair. And no matter what the author says, the smell of man sweat and earth (dirt) is NOT condusive to a good romantic read.

At 800+ pages, i was ready to hang myself by the end of it. It felt like a life sentence. I just wanted it to end. The descriptions went on for pages. Who cares what the hell the castle looked like from every angle, and the view from the hill, for that matter. Just get on with the blooming story woman.

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