Tuesday, May 10, 2011

When Your Own Life is Just Not Exciting Enough

Do you want to lie awake at night contemplating the deep mysteries of life and love? Do you enjoy thoroughly researched historical fiction that feels both informational yet extremely entertaining? Can you get past extremely graphic descriptions of births, operations, and battle wounds from the 18th century if it means the coolest woman in the world is the one helping with the births, performing the operations, and dressing the battle wounds? Do you like time travel? Have you ever wanted to to do it with a **HOT** Scottish guy (think Gerard Butler only...better).

I recently finished the latest book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, An Echo in the Bone. It's really hard to describe this one book (and, in fact, it's really hard to describe any of the books), much like it's really hard to describe awesomeness--it's just too abstract. But, for the sake of you, my readers, I'm going to take a stab at it.

Basically, the premise of the whole series is that there is this woman named Claire. When you first meet Claire she's on a second honeymoon with her husband Frank in Scotland after the end of World War Two. One morning, Claire (who was a nurse during the war) goes out to check out this flower she had seen the day before at a group of standing stones (like Stonehenge, but on a smaller scale). As her hand brushes one of the stones she's hurdled back in time to Scotland, circa 1740s. It is there, unsure of how to return home, she meets Jamie Fraser, The Sexiest Man Alive. The series (seven books as of right now and there is an eighth in the works) follows the life and romance between Claire and Jamie, who are soul mates if there ever were such a thing.

If you aren't brushed up on your history (American or British), then you should know that the 1740s and the subsequent years are pretty crazy. There's the Jacobite uprising in Scotland against the British, and then there's all that nonsense in the American colonies some time later (a Revolution or some such rubbish). Claire and Jame manage to get wrapped up in all that business, because the series literally covers decades out of these people's lives and the lives of their children. You may start the first book with a couple of key characters (namely Claire and Jamie), but by the time you reach the seventh book you're following the story lines of about five or six people.

So, yes, it's historical fiction, but it's also romance, too (with really well written sex scenes--this isn't your mother's romance novel). It also has some mystery and sci-fi/fantasy thrown in there as  well. The books are so long and involved she manages to through in just about ever fiction genre there is. And while one might feel like the plots are very complicated and therefore perhaps difficult to follow (they're sure difficult to explain), it really isn't. If you've ever watched a T.V. series where there is a continuous plot line (like LOST or 24, or basically any show that begins with, "Previously on...") you realize as you watch each show or even each season that the plot feels fairly straight forward if you've watched it faithfully, but if you try to explain it to someone you end up saying, "You just have to watch it for yourself." The books don't feel complicated as you read them, because you're so enmeshed with the characters and what's happening, but once you step back you think to yourself, "Geez, a lot just happened!"

I've been reading the Outlander series for about five years now and with the exception of the latest book, I've read each book at least two times and they never get old. The stories are rich and complex, but very plot driven, so you're constantly moving forward. They are just really good stories with characters you want to succeed (or die, depending on who it is). It's the type of book that you will laugh out loud over or find yourself sobbing until hiccups.

I love these books and highly recommend them to anyone who wants a good read.

Currently Reading: Anne of Green Gables

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