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Outlander () Top 100 Books of the Millenium (72)

This wildly popular historical-romance-time travel series has broken out of its genre and won fans of both sexes and all ages, but I'm afraid I'm not one of them.  The story centers around, Claire Beauchamp Randall, a British nurse who's just been demobbed at the end of WWII.  On a visit to her husband's native region of Scotland, she is mysteriously transported back in time to the 1740s, where she becomes romantically involved with Jamie Fraser, a young, and we soon discover "inexperienced" Highlander.  The two marry but run afoul of a brutal English overlord, "Black Jack" Randall, who Claire realizes she can't kill because he's her real husband's ancestor.

That's all well and good--set up nicely, with lots of authentic color thrown in--except for one thing : we know that given the conventions of the genre that Black Jack must disrupt the romance, but in an ultra-modern twist it turns out that his great lust is for Jamie rather than for Claire.  Even that would be okay, it's actually pleasingly incorrect to make him more evil because of his vile homosexual desires, but then Ms Gabaldon goes one very disconcerting step further.  When Black Jack captures the couple, Jamie agrees to be his plaything if Claire is let go.  Then, when Claire manages to free Jamie, he confesses that he became aroused during Black Jack's assaults.  And there Ms Gabaldon loses me.

I'm perfectly willing to concede that I'm a repressed Puritanical man of the 1690s trying to relate to a novel of the 1990s.  And I have no problem admitting that what I don't understand about women would fill libraries.  But is there truly something sexy to women about the notion of a man responding positively to his own torture and rape?  Does the modern woman really want her man to be quite that submissive and in touch with his feminine side?  Man, oh man, women are strange creatures…


Grade: (C-)


Book-related and General Links:
    -Diana Gabaldon Home Page
    -INTERVIEW : with Diana Gabaldon (Linda Richards, 2002, January Magazine)
    -INTERVIEW : with Diana Gabaldon (Linda Richards, June 1999, January Magazine)
    -INTERVIEW : A talk with Diana Gabaldon (Interview by BookPage Editor, Ann M. Shayne)
    -BookPage Special Web Feature: Q & A with Diana Gabaldon (1996, Book Page)
    -Bookworm's Lair : Diana Gabaldon
    -Who is Diana Gabaldon? (Page Wise)
    -ESSAY :  My "Outlander" thing : How a brainy guy like me wound up reading historical romance novels. (GAVIN MCNETT, 8/12/1999, Salon)
    -WEBRING : Through The Stones Webring
    -REVIEW : of Outlander (Catrish25, DooYoo)