Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I am a hypocrite.  I argue for speculative fiction to be taken seriously as an intelligent, literary genre and then look down on romance and chick lit as "lesser" genres.  So when my husband introduced me to this book, I made fun of him.

I know what you are thinking.  Romance?  Don’t you review sf?  Yup.  But Outlander falls into the unclassifiable, including the Loch Ness Monster, time travel, and adventure.  What it doesn’t do is follow the usual structure of a romance novel where the story is over once the hero and the heroine get together.  Here they get married fairly early and stay that way for six books of the series.  Clearly the story is more than love.

Our heroine, Claire Randall, and her husband Frank are vacationing in the Scottish Highlands after WWII, trying to reconnect after years apart during the war.  Claire accidentally slips back in time when she visits an out of the way henge and gets caught up in a skirmish between some British soldiers and some Scottish raiders. Captured by the Scottish and under suspicion for why she was there and in such unseemly dress, she is taken further away from the henge that can take her back home.  Claire must find her way through 18th century Scottish culture and the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands if she is going to make it back home.  Meanwhile, she’s falling in love with one of the Scotsmen, a man who happens to be an outlaw and isn’t terribly welcome by the English or his own kin.  On top of this, her own healing skills and knowledge of medicine get her branded as a witch.  I don’t know where Ms. Gabaldon gets her plots, but they get convoluted quickly, which isn’t a bad thing.

All I can say about the series is it is a grand adventure and it is weird.  It may be shelved in either fiction or romance.  But it is worth wandering past the bodice rippers to take a look at.  This is me rearranging my attitude.

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