Diana Gabaldon - The Outlander Series
Outlander - a MUST read!
The amount of books I have read in my lifetime must be a staggering number. Grade school, high school, undergraduate school, law school - just the text books alone have to be enough to fill my bedrooms. On top of that (for some reason known only to the big guy upstairs) I have always had at least one other book handy as well. These "pleasure reading" books have ranged in subject matter from the expansion of the Universe (yes, that's actually interesting to me!) to sappy romance novels. It just depends on my mood. I can appreciate almost any type of book for what it is. I read science books when I'm feeling scholarly, conspiracy books when I'm feeling bored and romance books when I'm feeling melancholy. I tell you all this as background for the statement - Outlander is the BEST book I have ever read. I discovered Outlander about ten years ago. Before I explain why it is so incredible, let me also tell you that I have read the series four times over the years and am re-reading them for the fifth time as I am writing this. I'm not sure you can get a better recommendation than that.
So why are these books so darn good? Occasionally the cosmos brews up just the right mixture of ingredients to make something surpass all expectations. That is what happened to Diana Gabaldon when she was writing these books - I'm convinced of it! First, there is the woman herself. Diana Gabaldon is clearly an unusually intelligent lady. She has received three degrees from two different institutions: B.S. in Zoology from Northern Arizona University; M.S. in Marine Biology from the University of California San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Northern Arizona University. Impressive isn't it? This extensive knowledge of science can be felt throughout her books. She has a unique way of making the reader feel as though you are there, in the book, without too much descriptive babble.
The basic premise of the books themselves is that Claire, a 20th century nurse in England, accidentally travels through some standing stones to 17th century England. Once there, she meets and eventually falls in love and marries Jaime. The two of them subsequently travel to various foreign lands and even have a baby together. Later in the series, Claire is forced to return to the present as war ravages Europe. Let me preface this next statement by saying that I am a believer in the POSSIBILITY of things such as standing stones that are gateways to time travel. Having said that, I am certain that even if I weren't Ms. Gabaldon would have made me a believer. The key to her books remains a mystery to me, but if I had to describe it I would say that it is a combination of imagination, talent, intellect and romance. By the end of the first book I was in love with both Jaime and Scotland. I think I still am actually. Ten years later I am still re-reading the same books - and these are NOT your typical 300 page romance novels. Each book runs about 700 pages - and I look forward to each and every page as though I've never read it before.
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