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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Audiobook Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon


TITLE: Outlander 

SERIES: Outlander, Book #1
AUTHOR: Diana Gabaldon
NARRATOR: Davina Porter
PUBLISHER: Recorded Books
DATE OF PUBLICATION: April 28, 2006 (first published 1991)
FORMAT: Unabridged, 28 CDs, 32 hours and 42 minutes
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction/Time Travel, Fantasy
ISBN:
978-1419381010

SYNOPSIS: 

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon--when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach--an "outlander"--in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord...1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life...and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

MY REVIEW:

Now I know what all the fuss is about!


Ever since I started blogging, I noticed that Outlander is one of those series that I keep hearing about over and over again. I did join an Outlander Reading Challenge in 2011 but failed miserably and never even read the first book. For me, the book length was a little daunting. I was informed by Gabaldon in a tweet to me (Eek! Yes, she did! How cool is that?) that Outlander is the shortest book in the series, aside from the Lord John Grey novels.

In the beginning of the story, Claire has been reunited with her husband, Frank, in Scotland. For much of their eight-year marriage, they have been separated due to World War II. Claire, a WWII nurse, is picking flowers at a place called Craigh na Dun, where the stones have been arranged in a circle atop a hill. As she leans down, she hears a buzzing noise coming from between two of the rocks. Claire has somehow come upon a portal and travels two centuries back in time.

At first, Claire has no idea what has happened and believes she has stumbled onto a movie set. Naturally, she is dumb-founded when she finally realizes what has happened. Her nursing skills come in handy, as she is more educated about modern medicines and treatment than even the doctors in that age! Claire treats a young man named James “Jamie” Fraser, who is an injured warrior. She rides with him back to Castle Leoch, which is owned by the Mackenzie Clan. They are very suspicious of her and think that she is a spy. Her knowledge of medicine is her saving grace, and she stays on at the Castle to treat the locals. She takes over the room occupied by the previous doctor and sorts through his cache of remedies. She discards much of the useless folk remedies but finds some herbal medicines to be of value. All the while, she can only think about how to get back to Craigh na Dun so that she can return to Frank.

One of the head of the Mackenzie Clan, Dougall, takes Claire to Captain John Randall (who, coincidentally, is an ancestor of husband, Frank!) so that she can be questioned. It does not go so well, and Claire is ordered to be brought back for further interrogation. The only way to avoid the clutches of Captain Randall again is for Claire to be wedded to a Scotsman. The lucky lady is wed to hunky Jamie Fraser. She eventually develops true feelings for Jamie (who wouldn’t?), and she is torn between staying with Jamie in the 18th century or trying to return to Frank in the 20th century. Her education and skills can be put to good use in this new life of hers, and she feels needed and that she can do a lot of good here. We should all be so adaptable! Claire actually finds that she enjoys this simpler lifestyle and that her work is rewarding. And with yummy Jamie to keep her bed warm, what more could a woman want?

With all the hype about Jamie, I had expected the scenes to be hotter. They are a little tamer than what I am used to from the likes of J.R. Ward and Christine Feehan, but Gabaldon’s scenes are more romantic:

Jamie to Claire: "Does it ever stop? The wanting you?" "Even when I've just left ye. I want you so much my chest feels tight and my fingers ache with wanting to touch ye again."

Jamie to Claire: "And I mean to hear ye groan like that again. And to moan and sob, even though you dinna wish to, for ye canna help it. I mean to make you sigh as though your heart would break, and scream with the wanting, and at last to cry out in my arms, and I shall know that I've served ye well."

Jamie to Claire: "Oh, aye, Sassenach. I am your master . . . and you're mine. Seems I canna possess your soul without losing my own."

Jamie to Claire: “Ye are blood of my blood and bone of my bone I give you my body that we two might be one I give you my spirit till your life shall be done.”

Ahhhhhhhhh, Jamie! What woman wouldn’t want to stay with him? He is quite possibly the most romantic hero that I've ever read! What I loved most about Claire is that she did remain torn between her two lives right up until the end. She clearly is in love with two men, and it eats away at her even though she falls quickly and madly for Jamie. I loved Gabaldon’s scene of Claire’s confession at The Abbey. It was heart‑wrenching to watch Claire grapple with her emotions as she ponders the moral aspects of her dilemma and also for Jamie to come to terms with what has happened to him. It did bother me a bit that Claire could so quickly appear to move on with her life so, for me, this was a much-needed time of reflection. I thought that Gabaldon ended this segment of the tale on the right note!

At this point in my life with young children, I would never be able to find the time to sit down and read this lengthy tome. It is for this reason that I am so thrilled that audiobooks exist! At nearly 33 hours, I was a little reluctant to start this audiobook because I worried that it would not hold my interest for the duration. Boy, was I wrong! Narrator Davina Porter is truly remarkable! Her voice is so rich with emotion. I loved her Scottish brogue, and she is quite convincing in her portrayal of Jamie and the other Scots. Even if you have read Outlander, I recommend listening to the audiobook. You will be captivated by Porter’s performance!

I was hooked from beginning to end, and I can’t wait to dive into the next in the series, Dragonfly in Amber.

MY RATING: 

 
5 stars!! Loved it and know that I will be re-reading this again in the future! Highly recommended!

This book qualifies as:
#15 for my 2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge  
#1 for my 2012 Mammoth Book Challenge 
#5 for my 2012 Audio Book Challenge
#3 for my 2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
#1 for my 2012 Time Travel Reading Challenge 
Task #4 for my 2012 Global Reading Challenge 
#11 for my New Author Reading Challenge 2012
#1 for my 2012 Outlander Reading Challenge
#2 for my Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2012 
#1 for my Getting Lost in a Comfortable Book 2012 Reading Challenge
#1 for my 2012 TBR Pile Challenge
#11 for my Speculative Fiction Challenge 2012
Letter O for my A-Z Book Challenge 2012  
#8 for my 1st in a Series Challenge 2012
#4 for my 2012 Award Winning Books Reading Challenge
#1 for my The Fill in the Gaps: 100 Project Reading Challenge 
Random Reader Challenge: Historical Fiction (Jan/Feb)  
#2 for my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2012

25 comments:

  1. Ah!! I have to come and check your review, excellent! I loooove this book and series, in fact, it's one of my favorites of all time.
    And yes , yes, about Jaime.
    Enjoy the series.

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    1. @Lupdilup: Thanks!! So glad to hear that you enjoyed the series as well!

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  2. I LOVE the outlander series. It was good to hear the narrator was good because it would have been a shame if a bad one had ruined your experience with this fabulous book.

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    1. @Dana: Davina Porter is amazing! I have seen some reviews of people who had a hard time getting into the book and gave up. I would highly recommend the audiobook over the printed book. Davina brings the characters to life!

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  3. I love your new blog look. it is wonderful beaut.
    I wanted to know if you received your e-gift yet. I think yours is coming from smashwords.

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    1. @Sidne: Thanks for the compliment! No, I haven't received the Smashwords coupon code yet.

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  4. I read this awhile ago when someone gave me the book. I didn't know anything about it before that. But I so enjoyed it. I haven't been able to read the rest of the series though. Your review makes me want to read the next book RIGHT NOW. :)

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    1. @Christy: LOL, I'm glad you enjoyed my review! The series is addictive. I can't wait to find out what happens next!

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  5. I really should read this book, but I'm kind of intimidated by the length. And the audiobook is 32 hours?! Yikes!

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    1. Hi, La Coccinelle. I procrastinated starting it as well. I signed up for the 2011 Outlander challenge and never even started the series! I just decided to bite the bullet, and it was very easy to get into the story! Honestly, I was so wrapped up in Jaime that it never lagged!

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  6. Hi Darlene! I know what you mean about lengthy books. There are several in my bookshelves just waiting to be read, but with the demands of my work in the university, I usually just please myself with picture books. :) This book sounds very inviting though. 32 hours is wow! :)

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    1. Hi, Myra! I know, it is hard to find the time to read. That's why I started listening to audiobooks! I can listen while I'm drying my hair, doing the dishes, cooking supper, doing laundry, driving, walking, it's great!

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  7. I came to this series by an impulse buy and wasn't aware of what I'd been missing. I love the books and would love to try an audio of them for a change.

    Thanks for sharing your review!

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    1. Hi, Sophia Rose! I, too, know lots of people who simply love the series. Check your library for the audio CDs and try them out! That's where I found mine!

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  8. This is one of my favorite series of all time. I agree with "what woman wouldn't want to stay with Jamie!" Don't be scared by the length . . . I love to savor the books and by the end I'm always wanting more!

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    1. Hi, Laura! That's how I felt when I finished this one! I'm glad to hear how much you enjoyed the series!

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  9. I read this one years ago. It made me love time travel books. Thanks for linking to the Time Travel Challenge page.

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    1. Hi, Laura! Thanks for hosting the Time Travel Challenge! It gave me another reason to finally get to this one!!

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  10. Sounds great, Darlene. I do love Scottish tales. I'll look for the audio so I can hear the brogue.

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    1. Hi, Joyce! You won't be disappointed in the audio version! Check your local library to see if they carry the audio CDs.

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  11. This is one of my favourite books of all time. I read it a year and a half ago and fell in love with it! Now I'm re-reading it so I can refresh my memory to continue the series. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I love Jamie and Claire.
    -Kimberly @ Turning The Pages

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    1. Hi, Kimberly! That's one advantage I have right now, which is being able to read the books back to back (or as quickly as I can manage!) without waiting so long between them! It is always bittersweet though when you finally catch up on a series and have to wait like everyone else!

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    2. I have the rest of the books in the serie luckily, but you know the trouble with books is other ones tend to side track me :) I'm dying to get my hands on the audiobook version of Outlander though unfortunately it is expensive. I'm glad there's a good narrator though :)
      -Kimberly @ Turning The Pages

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    3. I know exactly what you mean about getting sidetracked by other good books!! Since the series is so popular, I'd check with your local library. My has both the audio CDs and also the audiobook for download from the elibrary. I know, they are expensive!

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    4. Unfortunately my library has the audio restricted and only available for people who are blind. No such luck on the e-audiobook front either. Oh well my birthday's coming up so I know what to ask for :D
      -Kimberly @ Turning The Pages

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