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The Outlander

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  4,886 ratings  ·  975 reviews
In 1903 a mysterious young woman flees alone across the West, one heart-pounding step ahead of the law. At nineteen, Mary Boulton has just become a widow--and her husband's killer. As bloodhounds track her frantic race toward the mountains, she is tormented by mad visions and by the knowledge that her two ruthless brothers-in-law are in pursuit, determined to avenge their ...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published April 15th 2008 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Melki
A young woman has killed her husband. Now, she flees across the Canadian wilderness pursued by her massive brothers-in-law, who are bent on bringing her to justice. As she fights for her survival, the widow is tormented by "uninvited memories" of her life and unhappy marriage.

That's basically it, synopsis-wise. It is the author's descriptions of the almost unimaginably vast landscape and large cast of interesting characters that make this worth a read. (view spoiler)
...more
Nancy
I thoroughly enjoyed this book—it’s a real page turner. It concerns a young woman who murders her husband and is on the run. The characters she encounters on her journey remind me in a way of “The Odyssey.”—The loner who saves Mary's life and steals her heart; the mining town minister who becomes her protector; the dwarf who runs the only store in the mining town of Frank; the miners, the stragglers, and the settlers—each has his or her own vitality and consciousness. Even the old tracker who di ...more
Rachel
A suspenseful plot drives this story of a widow on the run through the mountains for Canada from her vengeful brothers-in-law. Even in the sections where she is no longer running, there is a sense of anxiety because the reader knows her brothers are still out there searching for her. I liked this book because the plot moved swiftly but it didn't sacrifice character development. It has one brief but very PG-13 section. It is handled with tenderness but may be too much for sensitive readers. Other ...more
Maria
This is an absorbing narrative written in 2007, not to be confused with D. Galbadon's Outlander series. While there are some maddening stylistic inconsistencies and awkward sentence structure at times, it's a compelling story of a young woman's struggle to survive in the Banff wilderness at the turn of the last century. Ingenious plot devices include the true occurrence of a devastating landslide in 1902-03, the worst in mining history. This gets a 5 from me because it's THAT interesting, so who ...more
Jo at Jaffareadstoo
This is a remarkable first novel, reminiscent of Tenderness of Wolves, with a smattering of Cold Mountain, it's beautifully written. Very descriptive, not just of the landscape, and believe me the Canadian Rockies sound very bleak, but also of the despair and hopelesness that existed at this time. As her story unfurls,we realise that Mary is a real heroine, not always likeable, but as courageous as a lion. She meets some wonderfully quirky characters throughout her journey, who add some spice an ...more
Mary
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Linda Hopf
A story about nothing, full of characters you care nothing about. Sure there are some great descriptive passages - about rainbows, darkness, the smell of horses... yada, yada, yada; but all these mental pictures connect a whole bunch of empty. I dunno - something about new Canadian writers and trying TOO hard to be clever. All those words completely got in the way of developing the story. I did not care one speck about the main character - the widow - and so her "adventure" meant nothing to me. ...more
Jamie
This book is hard to get into and once you sort of like it, it really is disappointing. There is just too much extra info. that, I think, takes away from the story itself. And the other problem is the amount of cursing is distracting. The intimate scenes aren't too bad but the author just writes very graphically and it's just not my choice of entertainment. Choosing and reading a good book is my outlet and as a mom w/very little extra time, I wouldn't waste it on this one.
Leo Robillard
Gil Adamson’s first novel is a yarn well-spun, full of improbable, implausible, and near-mythical events. It is the stuff of legend, with one foot planted firmly in accurate history, and one foot treading the ether-sphere of picaresque adventure.

Mary Boulton is a murderess, plain and simple. One may argue that she is the victim of postpartum depression, or overwhelming grief at the death of her child; she may even be insane with jealousy over her husband’s indiscretions. But no matter which way
...more
Tara
Not for everyone, but I loved this. If you can get through the first 100 pages, you'll be hooked. In the beginning, that dreaded literary curse of not much happening is laid down. Personally, I love nothing better than to read work by a writer who can take you from nanosecond to nanosecond in pages, if the writing is good enough, but many don't have the patience for this. Some overwrought language and metaphors at the beginning ("Grasses grew on the heaped soil like hair on a bee-stung dog") mad ...more
Julie
I love being drawn in and surprised by a great story. And when the writing is as beautiful as Ms. Adamson’s, a celebrated Canadian poet, it becomes an all-too-rare treat: a book I must tear myself away from as the clock ticks into the start of my work day.

The text of The Outlander is followed by a conversation between the author, Gil Adamson, and the writer Michael Ondaatje. Ms Adamson describes an image that came to her unbidden, one which she set to paper. She saw a young woman in a black dre
...more
Rob
I was tricked into reading this book. For whatever reason, I don't read a lot of women writers. After reading reviews (many of which compared the book to works to "Cold Mountain" and works of Cormac McCarthy, I picked up the book. I was very surprised to find out that Gil was a woman. However, that being said, I'm glad I did. This is the story of a widow on the run across the turn of the century west from her two brother-in-laws after she murdered her husband. During her journey she encounters m ...more
Ms. S...........
Not every book that has people spending time in the mountains is on the same literary level as Cold Mountain. Despite the book jacket's comments, however, Adamson gives us an interesting adventure story, possibly better compared to Enger's Peace Like A River. I did not feel close to the characters in this story as I did to Frazier's, but the story is tight, the landscape is its own character, and I enjoyed the last line!
Melissa
This is one of the stranger books I've read. At first, I wasn't sure where it was going and if it was going to get beyond the first big situation. But it did, and in surprising ways. I don't think anything I expected happened in this book. I weaker author would have had trouble tying together all the story chunks. But it does hang together.

The author is especially good at a kind of indirect storytelling. She reveals key bits of info not always through the eyes of the person experiencing it, but
...more
Mel Reddish
I cannot recommend this book enough. There have been several references to Cormac McCarthy, a comparison that is quite apt. This is Cormac McCarthy if he was female and a poet. The language is beautiful, precise, and constantly surprising. From the first paragraph, the book compels your forward, making it difficult to put down. While we know that the widow killed her husband, we don't know why or under what circumstances, and the withholding doesn't feel cheap or gimmicky, but instead like a nat ...more
April
This one was another for book club, and I have to say that when I finished it I shut the book with a snap and said “That’s it?!”


This is the story of Mary Boulton, the young widow who killed her husband. That we know from the outset, as Adamson tells us this as we are introduced to the fleeing Mary. Or, as Adamson constantly refers to her, “The Widow”. As if the two frightening brothers-in-law aren’t enough to remind us of her past, this moniker is necessary as well. Don’t forget, dear reader, th
...more
John Acy Reinhart
There are books that set you up for disappointment.

The writing is graceful, yet muscular, the characters are vivid and the narrative springs to life with a propulsive rhythm that makes reading joyful and as effortless as sliding across an icy pond. Yet, the ending rings hollow, as disappointing as socks for Christmas.

The Outlander, Gil Adamson's debut novel, is not one of those books. The writing, the characters and the narrative are all as described above. But the ending, the ending is a wonde
...more
Shirley Schwartz
This book was recommended to me, and I was actually surprised by it. First of all, don't confuse this with the well-known time travel Outlander series written by Diana Gabaldon. This is a stand-alone novel that was actually written by a Canadian writer and she is writing about a very intriguing part of Canadian history. Most people who live in Alberta have either heard of or have visited the site of the famous Frank Slide. It is located in southwestern Alberta. It occurred in the early morning o ...more
Joanne
This lyrical novel is a wonderful prose poem by Gil Adamson. Prepare yourself for a cadre of characters that somehow ring true regardless of their idiosyncrasies. Ms. Adamson's imagination and frontier knowledge blend rhythmically resulting in a consuming read set in the Canadian wilderness.
Linda
-a gothic western (!) by a young Canadian author
-rich, detailed, surprising
-needs a re-read
Anne Wright
The Outlander by Gill Adamson

wasn't sure about this book -

Overview

The widow walks out of her home and away from everything she knows. She takes nothing with her and has no idea how she will survive.

Whilst she has no money she finds that people are willing to help her.

once on the road and walking away from the home she tried to make for her and her husband and baby (both dead) her husbands two brothers are following her with guns and an attitude.

Each time she finds someone who will help her t
...more
Erin
This...was an interesting and unique book. I admired it. I can't say that I really ENJOYED it, but I admired it enough to give it 3 (3.5) stars (4 stars says I'd recommend it, and I'm not sure that I would, except to certain people).

I love Gabaldon's Outlander series, so when I saw this book in Park Road Books, our little Charlotte indie bookstore, I knew it wasn't related, but the title predisposed me to purchase it (at retail price! Unthinkable!) to read. When I finally started reading it, I l
...more
Paul Pessolano
A widow has killed her husband and is starting on an incredible journey. She has left home with nothing but the clothes she is wearing and is bring pursued by her husband's twin brothers.

The year is 1903 and the widow is being forced deeper and deeper into the wilderness, facing cold, snow, and hunger.

She does find some respite in a small town and is taken in by and elderly woman. Her life seems to have taken a turn for the better when her pursuers catch up with her. She is once again forced to
...more
Christine
The best word to describe this book is "uneven."

This is a fast, tense read. It's definitely not great literature, but it was different and I enjoyed it. There were some really great moments, and you can definitely tell that Adamson is a poet at heart. It's dark, but there's a lot of hope and pleasure and happiness as well. Interesting characters, who are not particularly well drawn, nor believable. A lot of inconsistencies. A few that were hard to forgive.

My biggest disappointment was with the
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Martin Belcher
I really loved the sound of this book when I read the back cover description whilst in my local Waterstones and my curiousity was immediately hooked and I had to buy it.

We follow our main character, Mary Boulton "the widow" who is running away from killing her husband and is being pursued by her two brothers in law through 19th century Canadian wilderness.

The language and prose used are just exceptional conjuring up in your mind with each paragraph the intensity of the situation Mary finds her
...more
June Ahern
The opening page starting with, "It was night, and dogs came through the trees, unleashed and howling" pulled me right in. I could feel the frantic energy, "The girl scrambled through ditchwater and burushes, desperate to erase her scent." Soon I learned the girl, called, 'the widow' through most of the book, was Mary Boulton, a 19 yr woman who had shot and killed her husband. This book is well-written and crafted. Sometimes the wording poetic. But too often the fragmented sentences left me wond ...more
Danielle
Some real writing gems with regards to style in this one. When Mary experiences a flashback to tell us more about her life before we met her, ambling in a ditch, it is always through some sensory experience in the present (similar to memory recall in life). For instance, she smells the tobacco in a pipe she steals and we are allowed entrance to a memory of her father (who also smoked a pipe) and what it must have been like for her growing up.

Though I found the story a little difficult to follow
...more
Susan Poling
Good book. I'm a little embarrassed to say that it was the cover that got my attention while wondering through BN the other day. (A woman wondering through the snow covered forest in the snow.) Of course, the actual story was of a much more rugged escape, filled with terror, starvation, and danger. The heroine is escaping the brothers of the husband she has just murdered - hense she is referred to as "the widow" throughout the book. As the story develops, she does as well - from a young girl of ...more
Nipuna
Jul 06, 2014 Nipuna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like to read about the outdoors in contrast to human inner landscapes
This was an interesting story and it immediately and continually reminded me of Cormac McCarthy's The Road but it was less visually desolate. It was lonely and vast at times but it was in the beauty of nature. The desolation was inside her thoughts. There was a sense of dread the whole time and small flashes of hope and discovery. The end was almost predictable but that's likely because of the author's foreshadowing. Toward the end, there was a part where the widow thinks she's gone deaf and I r ...more
Annie
Book club book. Thank goodness for book club or I'd never, or would rarely read fiction. And yet, much as I've thought, and said, when slogging through a book like this, much of me wonders why I bother. This felt like a warm up exercise for an author who will probably write a decent book someday. This sure isn't it. Here's a synopsis, apprentice author attends Writer's Camp and learns to develop; characters, young, possibly insane, murdering widow-check; setting, Cold Mountain-y time and place-c ...more
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Gil Adamson (born Gillian Adamson, 1961) is a Canadian writer. She won the Books in Canada First Novel Award in 2008 for her 2007 novel The Outlander.

Adamson's first published work was "Primitive," a volume of poetry, in 1991. She followed up with the short story collection "Help Me, Jacques Cousteau" in 1995 and a second volume of poetry, "Ashland," in 2003, as well as multiple chapbooks and a co
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More about Gil Adamson...
Help Me, Jacques Cousteau Mulder, It's Me: The Gillian Anderson Files Ashland The Outlander (Large Print 16pt) Primitive

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“I loved him right away," she said. "Almost on sight. Some things are so obvious when you look at them. And when that happens there isn't any choice.” 8 likes
“Here was a man who wore his scars on the outside and held a merry heart within. How much better that was than its opposite.” 7 likes
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