Thursday, August 05, 2010

Alley Oop was a cartoon caveman who traveled via a 20th century scientists’ time machine. I remember loving to read of his adventures when I was in first grade, just blossoming as a reader. Like many others, I, too have dreamed of time travel and enjoy reading stories that employ this plot development.
The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon was published nearly 20 years ago, but I’d never read any of her works till now. It takes place in 1945 and 1743 Scotland when a young and beautiful English woman is suddenly transported back in time via a Stonehenge-like formation of huge boulders. She has just endured life as a nurse during WWII and has seen the carnage of war-wounds and as soon as she arrives in Old Scotland, Claire is thrust into the battle-ground of clansmen fighting English Red Coats. Neither side trusts her; both think that she is some kind of spy. The clansmen kidnap her and bring her back to their castle, where the laird puts her to work as a ‘healer’. She is forced to marry – against her will, especially since she is already married to a man in the 20th century. She is also accused of witchcraft and nearly submitted to tests of witchcraft – trial by water, fire, etc.
I really loved the beginning of the story, but as the sex scenes and violence became more prevalent, I felt that the author was using them to sensationalize the story. How many times does Claire have to be almost raped?! Later came the homosexual scenes in which Jamie is raped. The villain, Captain Randall, is a sadist homosexual. The Duke of Sandringham is described as a caricature of the foppish homosexual. Politically incorrect, at the least, and they certainly ruined my enjoyment of the story. It probably sells more books and makes the plot suitable for a titillating movie, I suppose.
To be honest, I loved the history and the details but I won’t read any more of the books in the series. I must admit that I read the Wikipedia synopsis’ of the books in the series and read editorial reviews because I did feel a connection to the main characters and wanted to know what might happen to them.
Final note: I'm sure I am in the minority, but I would not recommend this book to my friends and certainly not to students.

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