I am the type of person who hates not finishing something. It is why all these years later I am still playing the original game Candy Crush on my phone. I am determined to get to the last level but the dam creators keep adding more and more… I believe they are past 2000 and I am only on level 1270! At this rate I don’t know if I will ever catch up as I refuse to spend any real money on buying boosters and gold bars!
I am not just a dedicated phone gamer I am also a lover of reading. I love a good series… cough Harry Potter.. cough Star Wars… cough. I am always on the watch for new ones or ones I may have missed. Every now and then I am pointed in the direction of a series I am told I would enjoy. Game of Thrones is one of them but I am fearful to start it. I hear Martin has no qualms about killing off characters and I have attachment issues with my favorites… sniff Snape sniff. The other series that was suggested was Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. I read some reviews on it and it seemed to be well loved… plus it is 8 books long! It would have solved by “what will I read next” issue for a while. It addition, it is currently a Starz program. I was basically given months of potential entertainment!
So I picked up the first book to get started… if you haven’t read or seen the series and don’t wish to be spoiled I created this page break for your safety!
Here are a couple of Amazon synopses.
In Outlander, a 600-page time-travel romance, strong-willed and sensual Claire Randall leads a double life with a husband in one century, and a lover in another. Torn between fidelity and desire, she struggles to understand the pure intent of her heart. But don’t let the number of pages and the Scottish dialect scare you. It’s one of the fastest reads you’ll have in your library.
While on her second honeymoon in the British Isles, Claire touches a boulder that hurls her back in time to the forbidden Castle Leoch with the MacKenzie clan. Not understanding the forces that brought her there, she becomes ensnared in life-threatening situations with a Scots warrior named James Fraser. But it isn’t all spies and drudgery that she must endure. For amid her new surroundings and the terrors she faces, she is lured into love and passion like she’s never known before.
“I was lame and sore in every muscle when I woke next morning. I shuffled to the privy closet, then to the wash basin. My innards felt like churned butter. It felt as though I had been beaten with a blunt object, I reflected, then thought that that was very near the truth. The blunt object in question was visible as I came back to bed, looking now relatively harmless. Its possessor [Jamie] woke as I sat next to him, and examined me with something that looked very much like male smugness.”
Scottish Highlands, 1945. Claire Randall, a former British combat nurse, is just 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 circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding clans din the year of Our Lord . . . 1743.
Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of a world that threatens her life, and may shatter her heart. Marooned amid danger, passion, and violence, Claire learns 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.
Claire is transported back to 1743, which was a period in Highland history where the free reign of the clans were coming to an end.
From perhaps the 11th century onward, the Highlands of Scotland had what is known as a clans system. Clans were like a loose definition of family. Inclusion did not mean blood relation. Many of the members took on the clan’s name as their own surname. They did this for sustenance and protection and in return they pledged their allegiance to the leader. These clans also operated outside of any sovereign authority. It remained that until about the Mid-18th Century.
During the height of the “independent clan period” there were countless feuds between the various factions. Violence was aplenty. Punishment for wrongdoers came in the forms of execution, banishment, lashings, or compensation payments. These were undoubtedly terribly tough times and something Gabaldon does not skim over in her narrative of Outlander.
The men in this world, like much of any other country at the time, were the heads of house. Women were seen as property and did not have very many laws on their side. Of course this was not for all women. Status mattered. Seeing though how it was a man’s world they had disciplining authority over “their” women. Meaning they would beat them and law would only step in if public order was being disturbed. It is here that I decided that Outlander was just not the series for me. Despite the elements of time-travel… history… and a weird love-triangle… I am 49% through my kindle edition and I am giving it up. No matter how well received a book is by the masses… no matter how much it contains interesting elements… not every series is going to be for you. That is the case with Outlander and myself. I hate to do it but… bye book bye…
Where is this distaste coming from? Well the summary describes Clair as this strong-willed woman and I have to give that assessment a hard pass. She may be in the beginning but halfway through the first book I encountered a terrible scene where Jamie, Clair’s husband in the 18th century, beats her to an inch of her life and enjoyed it.
It all started when Claire disobeyed his orders and tried to sneak off to find her way back to the stone circle, that teleported her to the past. She wants to get back home to her husband so when she saw her opportunity she took it. However, she gets herself kidnapped and Jamie had to go and rescue her. Due to the fact that she put his and the other clan members’ lives in danger, Jamie feels that he needs to give her a beaten so she doesn’t disobey him again.
Before he beats her he tells her that “you’re not accustomed to lettin’ a man tell ye what to do. But you must learn to do so, for all our sakes” (p. 399)
She replies with, “All right. I understand. You’re right, of course. All right; I’ll follow your orders, even if I don’t agree” (p. 399)
She said this thinking that all was done and forgiven but he persisted in wanting to beat her. He tells her that “I’m your husband; it’s my duty to attend to it, and I mean to do it” (p. 399).
This is a strong-willed woman?? This sounds more like a desperate woman who will say anything not to be whipped with a belt. Been there done that… never ends well anyway.
So Jamie beats her we are told to an inch of her life and the next morning she woke to “playful ribbing” from the other men. Her body hurt in a way that I am quite familiar with. The pain she felt riding horseback was reminiscent of riding on a bus as it bumped along city streets. There is no comfort no matter which way you lean your weight.
So during a trip back towards the clan castle she dismounts off her horse because she cannot stand the pain any longer. She decides it was better to walk alongside the horse. Jamie does the same, in likelihood, to keep an eye on her. During their walk Jamie tells her stories about his upbringing and how his father used to beat him. His father taught him that a good beating makes you a better person. His stories make her feel less and less angry with him. Eventually she exclaims to him “Oh, Jamie, I do love you!”
WHAT? Just because he was beat as a child and explained that beatings are a way of teaching gives him no right to touch you. A woman coming from the 20th century after the suffrage movement should have known a little more about this than an actual 18th century woman. Given me an f’in break!
The nail in the coffin was driven even further after he confesses to her that he enjoyed it. She tell him that “I forgive you. What I can’t forgive is that you enjoyed it!” (p. 423)
“Enjoyed it! Sassenach, you don’t know just how much I enjoyed it. You were so … God, you looked lovely. I was so angry, and you fought me so fierce. I hated to hurt you, but I wanted to do it at the same time… Jesus, yes. Yes I did enjoy it” (423-424)
After all that she forgives him again.
They finally get back home to the clan’s castle and she actually felt jealously for a young girl whom Jamie used to kiss in dark corners. She accuses him of cheating on her within minutes of them being back… really??? What is wrong with this chick! Then after they fight over that he rapes her! He tells her “You’re my wise, and if I want ye, woman, then I’ll have you, and be damned to ye! (p. 438)
That “spicy” quote that Amazon used in the synopsis about Clair being lame and sore was the aftermath of being raped… How romantic… ugh.
I can’t read on I just can’t. I cannot respect her for her constant forgiveness of him and self-blaming for all the bad that he did to her. This is not a strong-willed female character. If you believe I am wrong let me know in the comments. Does the story truly redeem itself?