Diana Gabaldon's Outlander

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon

Book Stats

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander was published in 1991 by Dell Publishing and is 627 pages long.

Author Information

"Diana Gabaldon holds a bachelor's degree in zoology, a master's degree in marine biology, and a Ph.D. in ecology, none of which has anything whatever to do with her novels. She spent a dozen years as a university professor before turning to writing full-time. Diana Gabaldon lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her family," (Back flap).

Intro to Book

"The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon -- when she walks through the standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach -- an "outlander" -- in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord . . . 1743.
Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life . . . and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and the desire of her heart . . . and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives," (Back cover).

Cast of Characters

Claire Randall: Twenty-seven year old former WWII combat nurse. Finds herself transported back in time two hundred years when she steps through the standing stones in Inverness. Five foot, six inches tall (the average height of an 18th century man), curly brown hair, amber colored eyes.
Frank Randall: Claire's twentieth century husband who is a history professor. Five foot ten inches tall, dark hair, approximately thirty-eight years of age.
Jamie Fraser: Twenty-three year old Scotsman whose wounds Claire heals upon her arrival in 18th century Scotland. Six foot, four inches tall, with red hair.
Jack Randall: British Dragoon Captain with an unsavory reputation. Frank's six times great grandfather who closely resembles the appearance of his descendant.
Dougal MacKenzie: War Chief of the MacKenzie clan at Castle Leoch and Jamie's uncle.
Colum MacKenzie: Chieftain of the MacKenzie clan at Castle Leoch and also Jamie's uncle.
Murtagh: Jamie's godfather and relative on his father's side. Short, dour man with pointed, rat-like features, but an able fighter who takes serious his role of looking out for his godson.
Rupert: Large, black haired man with a wicked sense of humor. The "hired muscle" of the MacKenzie clan.
Laoghaire: Pretty, sixteen year old MacKenzie girl who is jealous of the attention Claire receives from Jamie.
Geillis Duncan: Herbalist married to an official of Cranesmuir, the village located near Castle Leoch. Rumored to be a witch. Tall, with platinum blonde hair.
Jenny Fraser Murray: Jamie's older sister and the wife of Ian Murray who lives at the family home, Lallybroch. Petite, with black hair.
Ian Murray: Jenny's husband and Jamie's brother-in-law. Tall, thin, described as having a homely looking face, has a wooden leg (lower half amputated when it was hit with grapeshot).

Questions To Ponder As You Read

  • Do you think the past is set in stone, or would it be possible for a time traveler to change the course of history?
  • What are the defining characteristics of Jamie and Claire (i.e. their physical and personality traits)?
  • What are the differences that are evident between the society in which Jamie has been raised and the modern era from which Claire has arrived, and what challenges does this present for Jamie and Claire?
  • What controversial topics are addressed in the novel and do you think Gabaldon handled them well?
  • Though we are only briefly introduced to him, how does Frank compare with Jamie? Why do you think Clarie would either choose to return through the stones to Frank or stay with Jamie (i.e. what makes her compatible with either of them, with whom does she have the strongest connection)?
  • What is appealing about the way Gabaldon has written Outlander? What, if anything, could be improved upon?

In the Gaidhlig: a handy guide for Gaelic and Scots words and phrases used in Outlander (c/o The Outlandish Companion)

Sassenach: [Sass-uh-nak]: outlander, or foreigner; more specifically an English person; usage generally derogatory.
Ciamar a tha thu [Kia-mar a haa u]: greeting; "How are you?"
Tha mi gle mhath [Ha Mi glay vah]: " I am well."
Mo chride [mo cree or mo kri-e]: my heart (used as a term of affection)
Braw: literally, "brave," but also implies "fine, splendid, or excellent."
Besom [BEE-zum]: a woman, generally ill-tempered.
Mo nighean donn [mo nee-an down]: correct form of Jamie's term of endearment for Claire; My brown [haired] lass.
Mo charaid [mo kharaid]: my friend.
Clot-heid: clot-head or cloth-head; an idiot or imbecile.
Gomeral: fool, idiot.
Dinna fash: Don't worry; don't be troubled or bothered.
Bairn/Wean: baby/child
Greet: to weep or grieve
A leannan [a le-anan]: sweet-heart (vocative), with the implication of "baby" -- addressed to a daughter or other young person.

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