In the interests of honesty, there are a few things you need to know.
Outlander is an epic story of love found between two unlikely people: 18th century Scot, Jamie Fraser, and WWII nurse, Claire Randall. Obviously there's time travel involved--Claire falls through time.
Chapters 1 and 2 are about Claire and her husband, Frank Randall. They're finally reunited post-WWII and, in essence, learning who each of them is as an individual and within their disrupted marriage.
It took me 3 separate attempts to get past this part of the book. I simply did not like the relationship between Claire and Frank. Plus the book is rather slow at this point.
The Things Real Fans Say:
Why I recommend with reservation: Chapter 39
A little background, Claire's husband is a decendent of Captain Jonathan Randall, whom Claire personally meets. Captain Randall has "unnatural tendencies," as they were called in the 18th century. More importantly, he wants Jamie and he enjoys torture.
Chapter 39 provides an extremely detailed explanation of how Captain Randall treats Jamie (read rapes and tortures him) in exchange for letting Claire escape a failed prison break.
If you've been subjected to sexual abuse or simply value your stomach, skip Chapter 39. Skip the whole thing. You'll miss only the worst part of the book. A part that you can safely miss without destroying the rest of the story.
Its because of Chapter 39 that I am not a huge fan of Outlander. I'd heard raving fans talk about it for 20 years--yes, I'm sincere and, yes, I'm old enough for that statement to be true. Not one of those fans mentioned the contents of Chapter 39. In fact, most fans seem to be oblivious to its existence.
As an individual who has personal experience with sexual assault, reading about it is troubling. And that's putting it mildly.
I've been criticized by many fans, including family members, for not adoring Outlander. Some have said particularly idiotic things about my opinion.
Here's the thing, Outlander is a truly great story. If I'd known to skip Chapter 39, I'd love it as much as the next fan. But I didn't know. I read Chapter 39. It tainted the whole book.
I've ceased trusting the fans who rave about Outlander. Figure if they can forget about the hero being forcibly raped and tortured for a whole chapter, they aren't the best source.
Read Outlander with joy; skip Chapter 39
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Book Reviews, Outlander, sexual assault in fiction, Diana Gabaldon
Smith & Guy University series