December 19, 2006

Go and and get ye this book Lads and Lassies

As often as I can I try to make time for a good read. And no I'm not talking about Medical Surgical Nursing either. I'm talking about a great story to get swept up in. Well, I have found it. The book is called Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. ( and I normally don't include my favorite books in my blog, but I felt I must tell you about this one. While shopping at my local book store I came across this book and noticed it was a mother of a book....a little over 800 pages long!!! I had heard from several people that this book was really good, but the size was daunting. (Don't let the size deter you, or the plot description on the's much more than a romance, believe me!!!) Despite all that, I thought I'd get it where it would probably sit on my must read pile like all the others. So, being out of school and having some free time I decided to pick it up and take a gander. I haven't left the book since, except to tend to such things like eating and the occasional trip to the toilet. I know my family is about to go crazy, but I just can't put it down. It's been a long time since I have been this submerged in a book. This is the 1st of Mrs. Gabaldon's novels I have read and it won't be the last considering this is the 1st book of a series and judging by the reviews the entire series is fantastic. Let me just say that this book isn't just a story, it's an epic adventure full of romance, humor, passion, action, adventure, mystery, danger, magic and intrigue. How she pulled all of this off in one book is incredible. You will be spellbound from beginning to end and taken on a journey through the Scottish highlands seen through the eyes of Claire the heroine. Not one page is boring and not for a minute can I put the book down. This book is for men and women alike. Yes it has a lot of romance and some hot sex scenes, but it's so much more than that. It's perfectly balanced and written in the most honest way possible.

Ok, so here is the synopsis: Claire Beauchamp Randall was a British combat nurse ( go figure eh?) in the 1940's during World War II. The story picks up at the end of the war where Claire and her husband Frank are reunited after a 6 year long separation. Married in Scotland and separated shortly after, Frank , a history professor, was shipped off to war and Claire was left to nurse the sick and injured. They meet up once again for a second honeymoon back in Inverness, Scotland (the site of their marriage)to rekindle their burning flames and so that Frank can do a little family history research of his late descendants/ancestors. He makes a big discovery and finds that his great, great, great... (realllly great) grandfather was a captain of the British army in and around 1740's and he had a reputation of being somewhat of a dictator. Claire, being uninterested and bored by his research spends her days milling around the rolling green hills of Scotland collecting different plants and flowers for her own botany research (she's interested in the plant's healing powers). (Sounds boring? Well It isn't ...keep reading) She stumbles upon a great fairy hill and nestled at the top is a miniature'esque Stonehenge called Craigh na Dun. Fascinated, she tells Frank and they decided to venture up the hill on the next day. While upon the hill they discover some visitors. Frank recognizing them as Local "witches" coming to do some kind of ritual, hides himself and Claire so they can watch the ceremony without disturbing them. The women do some chanting in some native tongue and they leave. Frank surveys the site and can find no signs of anything different and they decide to go. On their way out Claire discovers a rare flower she'd read about and decides to come back later to get it. Later that evening as Claire is preparing for bed and Frank's return, the weather takes a turn for the worse with the wind picking up and the rain pouring down. Frank is walking up to the B&B where they are lodged and notices a man in full on kilt and everything standing outside staring up at Claire's window watching her. He asks the man if he can assist him in any way , the man walks away without a word and Frank notices despite the wind and rain the man's kilt and hair never moves and Frank swears the man dissapeared like a ghost. He gently questions Claire assuming for a moment that while they were apart she took a lover and she becomes immediately defensive that he would ask such a thing. Moving on....the next day Claire ventures back to the fairy hill in search of the flower. Moving between the stones she suddenly hears a loud noise such as shouting, buzzing, sounds of war as she's heard them before. Feeling odd sensations as though she's fighting an invisible force she finds herself on the same hill, in the same place but it's different. There is shouting and shooting and fighting. Claire witnesses men in red coats and men in kilts of a different time period and assumes she bumped her head or is on the set of a movie which she quickly finds out she is not when she is captured and almost raped by none other than Captain "Black Jack" Randall, realllly great grandfather to her husband Frank. Terrified and confused Claire struggles for her life and just when Jack Randall is about to have his way with her he's hit over the head and Claire is saved and captured once again and led off on horseback by none other than a real Scottish Highlander. This is where the story actually takes off and begins.

Claire finds herself in a real life castle surrounded by dirty, huge Scottish brogues and this is when she meets Jamie. (Sigh!) Sitting by a fire nursing a badly cut shoulder wounded from battle Claire sees Jamie and recognizes instantly that if she doesn't help him clean the wound it will become infected quickly and he could possibly lose his life. Watching some of the other men try and clean Jamie's wound with soiled rags Claire steps in and offers to clean and stitch his wound. Claire instantly notices Jamie's body is covered in scars and that his back looks as though it's been thrashed sometime in the past. Badly scarred and looking horrifyingly painful Claire makes no mention so as not to stick her nose where it doesn't belong. The men immediately recognize Claire as an asset, a healer and quite a bonny (pretty) one too. They are also more genteel than the English soldiers and realize she could be in danger if found by them again. They also realize she may be a threat as well because they recognize her accent as Sassenach (Outlander/English) and think she might be a spy of some kind. They decide to take her along on their long journey back to the Leoch (the home of the Mackenzie clan) so they can keep a close eye on her and to also let Laird Mackenzie (Colum) decide what to do with her. On the run from the English soldiers and other enemies of the Mackenzie clan they begin their long journey back to Leoch traveling in the shadows in constant fear of danger. Jamie MacKenzie Fraser is told to take Claire on his charge for the journey and to keep her safe. Along the ride Claire gets to know a little about Jamie and recognizes that he is as friendly as he is handsome. He thanks her for the mending of his shoulder and vows to keep her safe on their way to Castle Leoch. The friendship is instant, but also distant as there is a lot that Jamie doesn't know about Claire and a lot that he keeps from her as well. Throughout this trip to Leoch Claire does a lot of thinking and comes to the conclusion that some way she will escape and find her way back to Craigh na Dun so that she can somehow get out of there and get back home to Frank, but she will wait until the time is right and hopes that maybe the Laird of Leoch will help her get back. Deciding to keep her "secret" to herself she feels a little better knowing she has a plan. In the meantime finding a friend and protector in Jamie helps her ease her fears and take her mind off of her bizarre and frightening situation for the time being. Once they arrive at Leoch is when the story takes off and flourishes. Claire is welcomed at Leoch as a guest but is watched closely by the Clan upon orders of the Laird. And thus the story begins and no I haven't given anything away, but let me say that the love that develops between Claire and Jamie is real and pure and without those (whatever!) moments. There will never be two characters like Jamie and Claire again. They've made an impression on my heart forever. In fact, every character in this book is so meaty and rich that you feel as if you know them and you keep turning the pages to find out what happens with them next. As the story goes on Claire and Jaime discover that they are a part of one soul and this leaves Claire with all the what if questions and forces her to face herself and her future plans. It's interesting to see them on this journey through time travel and space. I don't mean to go on and on, but you must read it to become as engaged as I am, believe's worth it and will never be lent out to anyone!