“And I mean to hear ye groan like that again. And to moan and sob, even though you dinna wish to, for ye canna help it. I mean to make you sigh as though your heart would break, and scream with the wanting, and at last to cry out in my arms, and I shall know that I’ve served ye well.” (Outlander by Diana Gabaldon)

Outlander CoverGabaldon takes a standard bodice-ripper and makes it palatable to the fantasy audience, anglophiles, and intellectuals by adding magical time travel, modern British humor, and pseudo-correct Scottish history. In essence, she takes a once-embarrassing genre and adds smoke and mirrors so that the book’s inner romance is simply covered in layers of social acceptability. You may think that you’re the one fooling your neighbors, but the true joke is that we all love romance – and Gabaldon has just figured out a way to sell it to us without embarrassing our prim sensibilities.

Her second stroke of genius is that the whole series is simply one plot played over and over again. Jamie saves Claire, or Claire saves Jamie. Sometimes one saves the other from a wound. Sometimes, a mob. Occasionally, they save each other from themselves. Yet, on each repeat, this age-old plot seems fresh and urgent because of Galbadon’s creativity and flawless sense of pace. Even if you know the trick, you can’t help but want more of the same: more danger, more saving, more declarations of love, more sex scenes.

Recommended Action: BuyBorrowTBRAvoid
Length: 672 (audiobook: wonderful. Loved listening to the dialect instead of reading it)
Ending: Hopeful – directly leading to next book.
Incidental Learning: 1745 Scotland
Further reading: First, the rest of the series – then, the rest of the epic romantic-history genre, of course.


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