Author: Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: 2nd March 2015 (this edition; originally published as Cross Stitch in 1991)
Rating: 4/5 stars
What if your future was the past?
1946, and Claire Randall goes to the Scottish Highlands with her husband Frank. It’s a second honeymoon, a chance to learn how war has changed them and to re-establish their loving marriage.
But one afternoon, Claire walks through a circle of standing stones and vanishes into 1743, where the first person she meets is a British army officer – her husband’s six-times great-grandfather.
Unfortunately, Black Jack Randall is not the man his descendant is, and while trying to escape him, Claire falls into the hands of a gang of Scottish outlaws, and finds herself a Sassenach – an Outlander – in danger from both Jacobites and Redcoats.
Marooned amid danger, passion and violence, her only chance of safety lies in Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior. What begins in compulsion becomes urgent need, and Claire finds herself torn between two very different men, in two irreconcilable lives.
This was one of the books I read for my Dymocks 101 Challenge (which I set myself in March). I had wanted to read it for a while but the small writing really put me off! Luckily they released these nice new editions with a print size much friendlier on the eyes!
I found the first part of the book rather boring. Frank and Claire are reconnecting in Scotland after the Second World War. Frank, Claire’s husband, is incredibly tedious; he is using the holiday not as a second honeymoon but as a chance to research his own family history. Although Claire claims to love him, there isn’t much spark and he blames her for not falling pregnant, which irked me a lot – he just wasn’t very nice…. The only exciting character in the beginning was Claire’s uncle, who is only mentioned as part of her memory because he died in the war.
Luckily, the story gets WAY more exciting when Claire walks through some magical ancient stones and is transported back to 18th-century Scotland. The characters are so much more intriguing, particularly the very young Jamie Fraser, who becomes the main love interest. I loved the hierarchy of the Scottish MacKenzie family – the head of the family, Callum suffers from Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome, a degenerative disease which causes him problems with his legs. It is interesting to see Gabaldon’s approach towards his disability for the time period.
There is A LOT of sex in the book, which I was NOT expecting. Claire sleeps with Frank a few times in the beginning – those are super boring – but it is the sex scenes with Jamie which really capture the attention. It does get a bit much though…. I am not being a prude when I say there are too many scenes of this kind – they may be good, but it honestly became exhausting!
Captain Jack Randall is Frank’s ancestor, and one of the first people Claire meets when she arrives in the 18th century. He is a nasty piece of work, incredibly violent and completely horrible! Claire keeps having confused feelings seeing Frank’s kind face on this evil man – I think it will affect her marriage with Frank if she ever gets back to the future. Randall has a vendetta out against Jamie and we do see some instances of torture.
There were a few boring scenes throughout the book – the beginning, as I mentioned before, and the witch trial. But for the most part, it flowed pretty nicely.
I enjoyed the book well enough – it was incredibly entertaining, (even if there were too many sex scenes), and a fun historical fiction. I’m not sure if I’ll ever read the rest of the series though; not only does it annoy me that all the covers don’t match (Gabaldon changed publishers at one point), but after reading the synopses, the first book looks like the best of the lot. I might have a crack at the new television series – it looks pretty good, though apparently there is a lot of sex there too!