OUTLANDER

Diana Gabaldon

Unrivaled storytelling … unforgettable characters … rich historical detail … these are the hallmarks of Diana Gabaldon’s work. Her New York Times bestselling Outlander novels have earned the praise of critics and captured millions of readers.

Here is the story that started it all, introducing two remarkable characters, Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser, in a spellbinding novel of passion and history that combines exhilarating adventure with a love story for the ages….

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon — when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles.

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Unrivaled storytelling … unforgettable characters … rich historical detail … these are the hallmarks of Diana Gabaldon’s work. Her New York Times bestselling Outlander novels have earned the praise of critics and captured millions of readers.

Here is the story that started it all, introducing two remarkable characters, Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser, in a spellbinding novel of passion and history that combines exhilarating adventure with a love story for the ages….

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon — when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach — an “outlander” — in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord … 1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life … and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire … and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

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  • Delacorte Press
  • Hardcover
  • July 2011
  • 688 Pages
  • 9780440423201

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$50.00

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About Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon is the New York Times bestselling author of the wildly popular Outlander novels—Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (for which she won a Quill Award and the Corine International Book Prize), and An Echo in the Bone—as well as one work of nonfiction, The Outlandish Companion; the Outlander graphic novel The Exile; and the bestselling series featuring Lord John Grey, a character she introduced in her Outlander series. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Praise

“Marvelously entertaining … A page-turner of the highest order and a good read from start to finish.”—Chattanooga Times

“Absorbing and heartwarming … Lavishly evokes the land and lore of Scotland.”—Publishers Weekly

“Gabaldon is a born storyteller.”—Los Angeles Daily News

Discussion Questions

Fantasy, the paranormal, the supernatural . . . If we as readers are willing to suspend our disbelief (to use Coleridge’s phrase), narratives that make demands on our credulity require a very trustworthy narrator. What qualities does Claire possess that make us willing to believe her tale? Are there aspects of Claire’s personality with which you can personally identify? Can you think of other narrators whose credibility is the key to a reader’s acceptance of an otherwise unacceptably implausible story?

The ghost episode: Yes, Diana Gabaldon confirmed that the kilted figure gazing up at Claire’s window was indeed Jamie and that we will know at the end of the series why he was doing so. Having read Outlander, however, why do you think he was there? The apparition provoked Frank’s clumsy attempt to tell Claire that he would understand and accept that she might have been unfaithful during the pressures of war. What is your reaction to this: Is her angry response to him justified or not, in your view? Why? Do you share her intuition that he may have been referring to an infidelity of his own? If so, how does this affect your response to his character?

After Claire discovers Jamie and Laoghaire kissing, Alec shrewdly remarks that Jamie needs a woman and that Laoghaire will be a girl when she is fifty (114). What evidence do you see of Laoghaire’s immaturity in this book? If you have not read the sequels, how do you think this prediction might play out? (And if you have read them, how does it play out?) How much sympathy or criticism do you have for Laoghaire in this novel? Why?

On their wedding night, Jamie says, “There are things that I canna tell you, at least not yet. And I’ll ask nothing of ye that ye canna give me. But what I would ask of ye—when you do tell me something, let it be the truth. And I’ll promise ye the same. We have nothing now between us, save—respect, perhaps. And I think that respect has maybe room for secrets, but not for lies. Do ye agree?” (199) Do you agree that a good marriage can have secrets?

Many readers are drawn to the Outlander novels because of the powerfully appealing character of Jamie. What is it about a character with an eighteenth century sensibility that is so attractive to twenty-first-century readers? Scholar Jessica Matthews suggests that “part of its popularity stems from Diana Gabaldon’s rehabilitation of masculinity after feminism tried its best to declaw it for a generation.” What aspects of masculinity have been “rehabilitated” for us in Jamie?

The title of this first novel seems prescient, as so many characters in the subsequent volumes are, in so many ways, outsiders too. In what ways is Claire an “outlander”?

What, in your opinion, was the most moving moment? The most frightening one? The most surprising one? The funniest one? The most erotic one? The most beautifully descriptive passage? The most interesting detail(s) in terms of the novel’s depiction of a different historical era?

Diana Gabaldon’s own description of Outlander’s contents is as follows:“history, warfare, medicine, sex, violence, spirituality, honor, betrayal, vengeance, hope and despair, relationships, the building and destruction of families and societies, time travel, moral ambiguity, swords, horses, herbs, gambling (with cards, dice, and lives), voyages of daring, journeys of both body and soul . . . you know, the usual stuff of literature . . .” True, but rarely found within the same covers. Are some of these more important to you than others? Which ones? Why? Can you and your group come to a consensus on three that stand out?