Sunday, December 14, 2008

'Outlander' by Diana Gabaldon

I started reading ‘Outlander’ a few years ago despite my strong inclinations against reading romance novels. At the time my personal life was not going very well and as an effect I stopped reading this book abruptly due to frustration and anger. Those negative feelings truly had nothing to do with the book itself, only with me wanting to identify badly with wonderful romantic life of the main characters in the novel.
A few days back I had no choice but to start reading ‘Outlander’ yet again. I write ‘no choice’ because someone lent me ‘Lord John and the Private Matter’ which tells the adventures of a character from the ‘Outlander’ series. Being obsessive-compulsive about reading series books, I had to read the first one in Ms. Gabaldon’s before heading on to ‘Lord John’. And I am very glad that I gave ‘Outlander’ another chance. It is a wonderful novel. To say it is a romance would do injustice to it. The book fits many genres really, adventure, historical fiction, fantasy, just to name a few.
The heroine, Claire Beauchamp, is magically transported from 1945 Scotland to 1744 Scotland. There, many adventures await her but most importantly, she meets Jamie Fraser who will become the love of her life. Yes, I said it. I know it sounds cliché but nowhere can that cliché be truer as in this novel. Claire and James are one of the most endearing characters I had the pleasure to meet in a long time. Thanks to the author and her very skillful writing, I found myself adoring the two as separate, complicated, stubborn and feisty characters as well as a couple, joined in bodies and souls through the hardships they had to endure.
That same skillful writing gave me a true insight into 18th century Scotland. I read about the customs, the people, the culture without getting bored a bit but instead wanting to know more. I actually caught myself saying things like ‘Verra weel’ or ‘Dinna kin, lassie’ to my daughter a few times.
And then, to add to all that I got to read a true gem , a statement of a monk which I will carry with me because it astounded me with its simplicity and beauty:

“For that fraction of time it seems as though all things are possible. You can
look across the limitations of your own life, and see that they are really
nothing. In that moment when time stops, it is as though you know you could
undertake any venture, complete it and come back to yourself, to find the world
unchanged, and everything just as you left it a moment before.
And it’s as
though, knowing that everything is possible, suddenly nothing is necessary

Just for that one fragment the whole book would have been worth reading. But it is worth reading for so much more, for the laughter, for the tears, for the heartbreak, and for the joy.