Carrie's Reviews > The Outsider

The Outsider by Penelope Williamson
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Mar 28, 11

bookshelves: historical, read-2011, western, american-historical, ptsd, romance-lovers-book-club, manipulative-friends-family
Read from March 26 to 28, 2011

4.5*

I might never have read this book if it hadn't been listed as one of the May selections for a Romance Readers book club at a nearby library. I'm glad it was brought to my attention, because The Outsider is one of the most powerful books I've read in a long while. Penelope Williamson does an amazing job of making a cold-blooded killer into a sympathetic hero. She does just as well laying out the beauty and the harshness of the Plain way of life, and the joys and sorrows of living on a Montana sheep farm in the 1800's. The book has a deal of angst, sorrow, and violence, but also of beauty and joy and love. Williamson thankfully avoids the common trap of trying to tie up everything in a neat bow. The book seems all the more believable because of it.

Dealing with some deep issues of religious belief, The Outsider wasn't always comfortable for me. Coming from a fairly conservative background, I sympathize with the Plain people's wish to separate themselves from the world and live for God. The author succeeds in showing the reader the strengths of this way of life, along with the weaknesses.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Lynsey A (new)

Lynsey A If you like this one, Carrie, there is a pretty decent movie with Timothy Dalton and Naomi Watts.


message 2: by MelissaB (new)

MelissaB The movie is really good.


message 3: by Lynsey A (new)

Lynsey A I know. I went on a mad search around town to find a copy of it. Finally found it used at Blockbuster. :)


Carrie I'll have to find a copy!


message 5: by Lynsey A (new)

Lynsey A Good luck! It is well worth the hunt. I've never been all gaga over Tim Daly but he isn't hard on the eyes in this movie. He's pretty buff. :)


Jane Stewart This sounds good and I’d like to try it. But I have a question. Does this fall under the “inspirational” genre or “Amish inspirational” genre? I am fine with characters being religious or spiritual, but I’m not a fan of too much of it - like frequently having conversations with God, frequent prayers, or almost like God is a character. How would you call this?


Carrie Definitely nothing like the current crop in "inspirational" romance. The book isn't disrespectful to the beliefs of the Plain people (they didn't call themselves Amish) but she also doesn't pull any punches about the rigidity of the religion, or the difficulty of living a completely pacifist lifestyle. She does a great job of juxtaposing this with Johnny's abusive childhood and gunslinger adult life. It's like she shows the problems with total pacificism as well as those of a violent life. Neither seems to be a sustainable way to live.

Anyway, this isn't a religious book, or a book with any religious agenda. The Plain lifestyle is the backdrop for a great historical fiction/romance.


Jane Stewart Thank you for all this info. I'll try it.

I've finally got some time to read reviews, and I'm having fun going through all your 5 stars at the moment. I may not make it through your (very long) 4 star list but I hope to read thru a lot of them. If anything comes to mind that you think I'd like that's not 5 stars from you, let me know. (But don't put yourself out.) Thanks so much :)


Carrie :-) I wondered, since you were commenting on several today. I'll look around the four stars. Good to see your smiling face!


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