Outlander

So I was whining to my former roommate on Facebook about something or the other (challenges of writing a novel, probably) and she, blessed being that she is, decided to make my life infinitely better and recommended I read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

I’m only 23% of the way through the first book, and it turns out there are six books in this series, which means my free time (ha) is spoken for for the next several months, especially since I just happened to get sucked in as the TV version is being filmed.

Frankly, I wasn’t entirely sure I would like this story based on one particular detail: a married woman from 1945 marries another guy in 1743 (after disappearing from 1945). It sounded like a sad kind of wish-fulfillment: a woman wants the vampire and the werewolf, but she can’t have both in real life, so she writes a novel with a premise that excuses her indecision.

Outlander does not seem to be that at all. Granted, I haven’t gotten to the second marriage in the book yet, but it was handled very well with believable conflict by the superb Caitriona Balfe (the actress who plays Claire, the sort-of-accidental bigamist) and the screenwriters, who should probably write the scripts for all books-turned-TV-shows for the rest of forever. Watching the 8 TV episodes released so far and then returning to the book for the author’s original conception of the story and more details has been so fun, and neither book nor TV adaptation has disappointed.

Grossed me out occasionally, but not disappointed. When Starz says TV-MA, they mean it. It isn’t all entrails all the time, but, well, let me just say that I am impressed with the make-up/prosthetics artists and magic-TV-people, because that really did look like a ripped-up muscle, and ew, let’s not talk about it further.

I could not have been an army nurse like the protagonist, Claire B. Randall. Phew, no sir.

I cannot fathom the amount of research it must have taken to write a novel set largely in the 18th century told from the perspective of a war field-hospital nurse. I research when I feel like it, and when I don’t, I make stuff up (in fantastical worlds, I can kind of do what I want). I honestly feel like I’m learning when I read Outlander (I hope it’s more than a feeling), which may be why I don’t feel too silly reading a love triangle tale featuring a Highlander hottie (here I’m reminded of the spoof novel-cover painting from The Guild featuring Wil “Shut Up, Wesley” Wheaton and Felicia Day). You would never see that on any edition of Outlander because although there is some romance (quite a bit to come, if the TV show is any indication), there’s an actual story in a world that doesn’t merely exist to allow a woman to have an affair. In a way, Outlander reminds me of The Historian (with fewer historical documents and quotes-within-quotes, which are perfectly fine, of course) because there is so much (but never too much) going on.

So, we’ll see if I become one of those people who finally saves up enough money for the dream Scotland vacation, not because her ancestors lived there, but because she just HAS to see the castle where this amazing story was set – if I do become that annoyingly fan-girly, please smack me.

We’ll also see if I later come back and edit the previous sentence.