Madam Pomfrey Approved

Outlander - Diana Gabaldon
For where all love is, the speaking is unnecessary. It is all. It is undying. And it is enough.


Here's to hoping this review won't be as long as this book which, after reading for four days, has given me a mental Scottish brogue. 

I have to admit, I got swept up in the excitement over this getting picked up as a TV series. Forgetting for a second why I've put off reading this for so long.

Then I read the first few pages and got reminded why.

General feeling after reading this I'd say it was more of a 3.5 but after going back to my highlights, I wanted to give it an outright 5. Just like its characters, Outlander is deceptively simple in its premise but the implications and emotional layers it comes with, once you take the time to pause and examine everything in their proper context in retrospect, impacts you with a sizable hurt.

Armed with an impossibly sluggish start, this was set in 1945 when fresh out of serving as a nurse in WWII, Claire Randall travels back in time through some ancient rock formations, to Scotland in 1743. That's too much historical for an occasional historical reader with obsessive-compulsive tendencies like me. Such that any statement Claire makes (I think she made one commentary about Mars) I have to second-guess at the back of my mind if such would be a historically accurate knowledge for an English woman in 1945. 

And since I'm already on board THAT crazy train, I also can't help but google and wiki the locations and unfamiliar terminologies because I have to know what syrup of figs does and I'm sorry if I know what Potassium Nitrate is but not saltpeter. Which was fun for a while until you also get to learn 

 

☸ how to birth a horse
☸ how to birth a woman
☸ how to catch trout with bare hands
☸ how to treat carbuncles with iron nails 
☸ how to make beeswax candles
☸ how to have awkward, sexually-tense, after-dinner conversations among relatives while pregnant

Not to mention the herbology lessons that will make Madame Pomfrey proud. 

Not to mention the strange erotic and taboo undertones that made me go 'huh' far too often.

Hence the four days.

True the research was impressive, but the integration into the plot was only successful in some areas and just plain tedious in others. The details just got a little too Pinterest-y for certain stretches.

You know what I didn't mind the Pinterestiness on? Jamie Fraser. 

I think half of my highlights were his lines. He's easily one of the best fleshed (rawr) heroes I've read of, his endlessly amusing and intriguing personality and charm carried this story well enough though possibly at the expense of Claire's likability. Because as this was told solely from Claire's POV, I felt like she was mostly a passive spectator in the majority of the book and until the last 20%, my sympathy for her character felt like a neglected plot line that got picked up again as if an afterthought. Maybe in a too little too late fashion. I don't know, I'm still on the fence if I'm continuing with this series. I don't even understand her conflict with the infidelity issue because in the beginning, it was made to sound as though they'd be on their way to divorce court 3 years down the line anyway.

Can I just mention the sheer ridiculousness of Claire's scene with the wolf? It was shades of Kim Bauer and the cougar in 24. Maybe I'm not getting it or the message got lost in all that Scottish-ing but was the point of it to annoy me to no end by making my mind drift back to what was going on inside the prison while all of that was happening? Because if it is, then job well-effing-done.

I do feel a little bit cheated out of the last 20% of this book because I think my immediate feelings would have been a little bit sharper, a little more focused if I've read this sooner. Because it felt like the blows that this one delivered, I've been dealt before and not from poor imitations either.

 

"I can bear pain, myself," he said softly, "but I couldna bear yours. That would take more strength than I have."


So whatever emotions Outlander was supposed to elicit from me took some time to catch on because it digs its claws into something in me that's supposed to be raw but has now been a little worn.

And yes, that frightens me a little.