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By Sara on 09-10-14
The Time Travel VS Romance Quandary
I downloaded this book years and years ago and settled down to a 30+ hour listen. Based on many raving reviews I thought the book was a time travel tale of beloved fiction. There was so much about the book that I knew I would enjoy. The time travel, the Scottish highlands, medicinal herbs, life hundreds of years ago, gardening...the list goes on.
However, I have to state up front I hate romance novels. At the half way point I had the sudden realization--I know I'm quick-- that this book was a dreaded romance novel. I was horrified and had heard enough of what Jamie wore or didn't wear under his kilt to last me forever. The heaving bodices were weighing me down as well. This was before Audible allowed returns of hated books. So I shelved the book with a shudder, gave up, and it sat there in my library untouched for years.
Fast forward to last month when the Outlander cable program started and I watched just to see what it was like. Well--to my shock--it is wonderful. The filming, the setting, the costumes--all fantastic. So I'm listening again with renewed interest. I cringe a bit every now and then to be honest. But I am enjoying the book at long last. I can see what those positive reviewers were about. Living proof that if you don't like a book give it time. You might like it after all.
390 of 412 people found this review helpful
By Lulu on 08-19-12
The Reason for the Existence of Audio Books
I had read a few audiobooks and had even joined Audible. But until I read this book I did not understand the magic of the format. Before reading this book I had no interest in1) romance 2) science fiction or fantasy and 3) time travel genres. I'd heard enough about the series that it piqued my interest because I loved historical fiction. Especially the period of time I knew the book covered. And I always found the challenge of tackling a big book rewarding.
This book changed so many of my perceptions of genre and reading format. While I still argue that though there is definitely a romantic and sexual relationship at the books core, it was only one part of the adventure. It still doesn't fit the romance genre to me, but it did such a good job of weaving romance and sexuality into the adventure it made me curious to read more traditional romance novels and see if they handled the topic as well. They didn't, but I discovered other good books I never would have tried of not for Outlander.
Likewise, other than Anne Rice's Vampire series which I had read many years ago, this was one of my very rare ventures into fantasy-science fiction. Setting aside my understanding of reality to accept someone else's is always difficult. But reading Outlander and the subsequent books in the series, I found myself trying to work out in my mind how this might have happened. It encouraged me to explore this genre more thoroughly as well. Even more surprising, it made me evaluate my perception of "time", what it means and how it works. I found myself paying more attention to physics and the study of the time and space relationship.
The twists and turns of the plot kept me turning the page just like the best mysteries I read. While reading the book there were enough unanswered questions, clues and short glimpses of scenes or events that caught my attention and made me store them away to remember "when all was revealed." But all was not revealed at the end and I found myself turning over these clues and snippets, trying to determine their significance, what I thought they meant and what their purpose was. One requirement of a great book is that you cannot get it out of your mind after you turn the last page. This book met that criteria. I thought about it for weeks.
Most importantly I learned that other voices can bring a whole new level to the reading experience, if it is the right voice for the right book. I would have enjoyed this book regardless, but if I read it myself and heard my voice in my head the characters would never have come so alive as they did in Davina Porter's voice. This is a perfect marriage of book and narrator. I was so surprised when I later discovered more about Porter's age, experience and background. She made a 21 year old Scotsman come to life. Her voice is Jamie to me. She handled each character wonderfully, although it is the first and only time I have ever listened to a book or series of books and thought a woman narrator did a better job on the men's voices than she did on the women's. I have loved hearing how the narrator has aged the character's voices throughout the series. You hear the young Jamie in the middle aged Jamie's voice, but you also hear the growth and maturity. I have accepted the narrators in the Lord John series, even when the book includes Jamie and actually think they are narrated well. But I am not certain I could accept another narrator for future Outlander books.
Finally, my initial interest in this book was from a historical fiction viewpoint. A good historical fiction novel, by Bernard Cornwell or Sharon Kay Penman sticks to as much historical fact as possible but presents it in an engaging and relate-able format. It makes you interested enough in the times and events that you will endure the dry-er, less lively recitation of facts of that same event or time in a nonfiction book, just to learn more. Outlander and this series delivered that in spades.
456 of 501 people found this review helpful
By crazybatcow on 09-24-08
Don't tell anyone that I liked it...
I bought this audiobook because it was in the sci/fi fantasy category. The write up claims it has "a dash of time travel" - and that's all it has in the way of fantasy/time travel - a dash.
Time travel is used as a way to launch a HISTORICAL ROMANCE. And, ultimately, this is exactly what it is: a very detailed romance novel set in 18th century Scotland.
Keeping that in mind: it is VERY well done. The narration is terrific and the story engaging (though I did use the fast forward several times to get through the long descriptions of clan family lines, or details of the clothing/housing/etc of the time).
I don't like romances and I don't like historical fiction so I thought the two together would mean I had wasted my credit. Not so. Even though it's as far from my usual listening choices (sci/fi or cop/detective stuff) as it could be, the story flew by: I caught myself smiling at events in the story pretty regularly.
Assuming a starting point of 3 stars for an average story, I added one star for the narration (which brings the story to life) and a second star for making me smile in public. I took off a half star for requiring me to fast forward some of the descriptions = 4.5 star story. So I give it 5 stars because 4.5 is not possible. (I did buy the next book in the series too.)
Remember though, this is a romantic novel with some/lots of sex (though having made it through the sex scenes in Altered Carbon, this is pretty "romantic" sex) - so if you're looking for sci/fi or fantasy, you will be disappointed in this.
Otherwise... if you're not the romantic type but, like me, stumble onto this story by accident only to find that you like it - don't worry, we won't tell anyone...
262 of 305 people found this review helpful
By Melissa on 05-09-08
Perfect stress reliever!
Not that this series needs one more great review, but if you are still on the fence about giving it a try, I would urge you to do so. I'm a 3rd year doctoral student, overwhelmed with work and obligations, and quite literally the only thing that gets me excited about my 45-mile commute to school each morning is Davina Porter's amazing voice bringing to life Diane Gabaldon's epic adventure/romance story. I miss these characters when I'm away from them for too long - it's that good!! I've read a few comments about these books being too long, but I love them so much that I'm grateful to get to spend this much time with them. It should time out that I will get my degree right as I'm finishing the last book (I only listen on my commute so they last), and I intend to start them all over again when I do. They are simply that good.
171 of 203 people found this review helpful
By Robert on 10-09-08
A Review for Males
This book was written by a woman for women. About 15% of this book is graphic romance from the woman's perspective. Men listening to these sections will find the discussion extremely boring if not nausiating. These sections are not pornography, but by being graphic and explicit, come close enough to be annoying. During these sessions, the book becomes a Harlequin Romance, and the main character becomes Fabio-like. This greatly distracts from the story-line and will drive many males away from the book.
So why did I give this book a 4 star rating? Because the rest of the story is compelling, the reader is excellent, and the characters have depth and realism during the non-Fabio moments. The author takes pains to be historically accurate, and if one has visiting Scotland, the descriptions are enjoyable and vivid.
Be warned, however, that this is not science fiction. Time travel is a mechanism, not a concept in this book. As the author herself admitted at her website, this happened by accident, and she simply went along with it. So dont get this book if the goal is to explore the ramifications and paradoxes of time travel. Such topics are explored superficially in the second book, and ignored here.
If one wants a great time travel story, I recommend To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.
355 of 431 people found this review helpful
By Katelyn on 05-16-09
Best series ever!
My mother was a huge fan of Diana Gabaldon's work when I was growing up and I had always blown it off as a silly interest of my mother's like most kids. I'm 23 now and I thought I'd give it a try to see what all the fuss was about. I was so surprised to find out that my mother had great taste in books.. if not other things :) The idea of a woman going back in time to Scotland in the 1700's and falling in love with a highlander sounds kind of ridiculous, right? Well I was wrong, it was fantastic! There is a real story line here with genuine problems unlike some other 'romance' novels I have read. The sex scenes are tasteful and do not overpower the story. It isn't all love either, there is plenty of fighting even to keep my macho brother entertained. The places, historical events, tools, and lifestyles portrayed in the novel seem very well researched. The narration is excellent. Davina Porter has a very believable highland accent. I would highly recommend this book!
147 of 181 people found this review helpful