I must confess that I am a little late to the Outlander fan party and it's a recent discovery to me. I got the Series 1 DVD box set for my birthday last November and it was a case of instant obsession. I love tales of Scottish history and romance and as I enjoyed the series so much, I knew I had to read the books, so I've just bought the first three in the series; Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager by Diana Gabaldon. I started reading book 1 this weekend and I'm loving it so far.
Outlander tells the story of Claire Randell, a WW2 military nurse, who stumbles through a portal back in time to Jacobite Scotland in 1743. It is set in Inverness and surrounding area, taking in Fort William as the story progresses. These are the places I visit when I go on holiday to the Highlands, so the Outlander series has given me a new appreciation of my time there and a longing to return.
This series presents the Scotland that I love, the place I look for on my visits - the romantic, honorable, battle ready side of Scottish history, the breath of which still lingers in the remoter parts of the Highlands where the story takes place. It is the idealism of a nation, swathed in magical mists and slippery with spilt blood as the Scots fight against English occupation.
I love that the tale is told through the eyes of an English woman, a Sassenach. As she tries desperately to assimilate with her new circumstances, in a new time, she struggles to understand the ways of the Scots. She tries to make friends. She tries to prove herself kind and trustworthy by being helpful with her gift of healing. Yet always she remains an outsider - useful to the Scots, but never truly accepted by any one of them. Except Jamie...
Of course I'm completely in love with Jamie Fraser...a hot tempered, red haired, honorable, gallant, kilted Highland Chief...oh my, how could I not be?? He hand-fasts with Claire to protect her from questionable members of his own Clan, by making her a part of it and thus protected by a blood tie; he rescues her from English soldiers with wicked intent; he gives her haughtiness a ticking off when she needs it - he is her match, in all things - except Time.
I can relate to so much of this story and Claire's struggle; the feeling of being torn between two worlds, two different times in her life, two loves; and of never feeling like she fits in with either one. Always longing for where she isn't - it's a difficult road to travel; one which requires a true heart, a sure step and a steady courage to face down the hostility that is ever present in the Highlands. I love Outlander because it gives me a taste of the Highlands when I am in England, and as I can't cross the border for a while yet, I need this show and these novels to sustain me in the meantime.
The final episode of the series is very harrowing and one that I will not watch again - I'll leave it at the penultimate episode and then move onto Series 2 when that comes out. I admire the fearlessness of the last episode though - making the last battle, as it were, all about the two men and showing the lasting effects of that battle, the hidden mental scars that linger, is an epic piece of media genius. If it makes men think on it, relate to it, then it has served a very useful purpose in facilitating understanding. I won't watch it again - it's just too brutal for me - but I admire the genius behind it.
All the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon are available from Amazon UK, however the DVD box set is only currently offered to view on Amazon Prime, so if you want to buy it, you're better off trying HMV instead. I'm looking forward to discovering how the story unfolds through the novels and eagerly awaiting the release of Series 2 box set. Jamie Fraser is my new favourite Scotsman...I'm sure you can see why... :-)