Friday, July 19, 2013
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
If you like: time travel * Scotland * Romance
Outlander is the story of Claire, who finds herself transported 200 years from her time in the 1940s. Alone and confused, she becomes captive of a group of Scottish clansmen. They protect and care for her, not for her own sake, but because they initially believe she is a spy. Soon she begins to realize that her past and present are colliding. After several attempts to escape back to her own time, Claire begins to appreciate the life she has found in the past.
Being alone in a time period you are unaccustomed to could be a terrifying experience, but it isn't to Claire. Rather than despair, she embraces her circumstances and tries to make her own way. Luckily, she has training as a nurse, and a hobbyist's knowledge of herbal remedies. Not only does she use her modern knowledge to heal, but she also marvels at the skillful treatments using the resources of the time. Her outsider status is not always so beneficial though. She does not behave as a lady of the time should, and often gets herself in trying situations. In spite of this, she often proceeds as though there are no consequences to her actions. Her unwillingness to face the dangers of her new life seems at times contrary to her intellect, but complementary to her willful nature.
Outlander embodies a different sort of time travel narrative. At times, there are concerns for changes to the past impacting the future. On the whole, it enjoys a much more fanciful demeanor. Not only can certain people travel through soft spots in the world, but doing so provides reasonable certainty that many myths are real. No longer do see monsters and other terrors seem like stories made up to scare children. They are not just plausible, but probable: creatures removed from the past and trying to survive in a new world. Claire herself is often involved in the conflicting nature of time travel in Outlander. Sometimes, she is able to use her knowledge of the future to impact events or get herself out of trouble. Other times, she has no real regard for potential changes she might cause. She assures herself that her continued existence means she is not causing ripples through time, but there is no way of knowing what her actions as an agent of change could cause. Rather than dwell on this, Outlander is settled fully in the past, and much better for it.
If you would trust your heart to lead you to your destiny, read Outlander.
Gabaldon, Diana. Outlander. Random House, 1991. Kindle edition.