Vaginal Fantasy Book Club discussion

Outlander (Outlander, #1)
This topic is about Outlander
Jan 2013: Outlander > Outlander Discussion Thread *Spoilers*

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message 1: by Felicia, Grand Duchess (new) - rated it 5 stars

Felicia (feliciaday) | 740 comments Mod
This is the official discussion thread for our January main pick: Outlander by Diana Galbaldon!

message 2: by Justine (new)

Justine Mcintyre (justinemcintyre) | 23 comments Had to get the audiobook for this once since the kindle version doesn't seem to be available in Australia? Excited to try an audio version for the first time though!

message 3: by Bonnie (new) - added it

Bonnie (mswas) I love this book so much. I cannot wait!

Bethany (bmanson81) | 9 comments Justine i found it and i'm in Australia search Cross Stitch (Outlander 1), its has a different name in some areas, but i'm going to get it with audible as i'm a slow reader, and i want to read more.

Melissa (drunkandreading) I think it's called Cross Stitch everywhere, but, in the US. At least, it was when it was first released.

message 6: by Justine (new)

Justine Mcintyre (justinemcintyre) | 23 comments Ah clearly I didn't research enough into this, didn't know it was under a different name thanks! I'm trying to read faster as well, the audible version is something like 32 hours long so I'm hoping I can actually get through it.

Bethany (bmanson81) | 9 comments Yeah i have found that with alot of things that name get changed and so on, I think 32 hours of listening suite me better then maybe no finishing the book

Monique (nique87) Audiobooks are great because it's easier to do other stuff (I like to knit while I listen to stuff, some people listen while driving, etc.) and in this case it's only a little more than an hour a day of listening. Unfortunately, I find that I don't absorb as much from books I'm listening to (and yet, I listen to podcasts all the time, and feel I got the message), so I'm left to carry my little ereader around with me. (Which I'd much rather over a 900 page paperback!)

Melissa (drunkandreading) I find my mind wanders A LOT when I listen to books and I'll miss whole chapters without noticing.

But, I found that if I listen at 1.5X speed while I read along with the actual book I get through it much faster than if I was to read it to myself. I think it keeps me from contemplating other things when I'm listening and reading at the same time.

That being said Outlander is my "go-to" book. It's what I read when I can't decide or nothing grabs my interest. So, I've read it about a dozen times now. I never get sick of it. But, I did get tired of the series. I haven't managed to make it through the last two books. The first 4 books I've re-read several times.

message 10: by Jane (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jane Higginson | 180 comments Just downloaded it to my kindle, can't wait to read it!
Oh and the uk version is cross stitch by the way

message 11: by Leah (new) - rated it 3 stars

Leah | 100 comments I enjoyed this book overall, but felt it was unnecessarily long. The book's pace was a bit too slow to keep me wanting more, as well. Some parts of the book just seemed like unneeded story line. The ending wasn't my favorite either.

That being said, I loved the characters very much! Even though Claire was from the 40's she seemed relate-able and charming. The dialogue was FANTASTIC! It did take me a while to get used to, but after I did I enjoyed it immensely.

All in all, the book was okay. Maybe after a while I'll pick up the next book, but not any time soon.

Emily | 266 comments Halfway through this book and love it so far. I feel like I'm in the HIghlands in that time period. Haven't read a great historical romance book in awhile. I'm excited for the discussion as well. This book has a lot of heavy themes.

message 13: by hikari (new)

hikari | 13 comments It's called "Cross Stitch" on the Amazon UK store as well, if you want the Kindle edition.

message 14: by Stacia (the 2010 club) (last edited Dec 30, 2012 05:24PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Stacia (the 2010 club) (stacia_r) | 48 comments I loved the book, but absolutely agree that Gabaldon is very heavy handed when it comes to her writing style. There are a few instances in the book where I found myself skimming (the clan lineage was some of it, although I loved the descriptions of plants as medicine). That said, I felt like the good outweighed the bad because the story itself is so moving. This is one of the only instances where I've rated a book this high, even with the glaring flaws.

This is definitely one of those series that people either absolutely love or feel very lukewarm/uncaring toward.

message 15: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary (mkrhodes84) | 40 comments I have the Audio Book and I'm up to Chapter 31 and I have Enjoyed every Minute of it. I find my self giggling Hysterically out loud and my husband looking at me like I'm loosing my mind. I have let him listen to some with me and he was giggling with... He will probably listen to it at a later time since He know's I'm listening for the book club he doesn't have as much time to listen as I do.

message 16: by Kat (new)

Kat | 13 comments I have to say that I'm very glad I read the reviews of this book before downloading, because otherwise I would have had no warning about the heterosexual and homosexual violence in the story.

As a result, I think I need to pass on the main this month; I won't 'poo-poo' anyone else's tastes, but maybe it should raise the question of whether some books we select should have advisories with them? I'm looking forward to the discussions this book inspires though!

message 17: by Mary (new) - rated it 1 star

Mary | 46 comments So i thought it would be awesome to get a head start on reading Outlander over the Christmas holiday. Unfortunately i got the wrong Outlander. I got The Outlander by Gil far not a half bad read. The main character is a young female. What i have learned about her so far is she lost a child of about 2 months to sickness and she is accused of killing her husband. Her two brother in laws are hunting her down. It is set in the early 1900's. I think i will need to finish it before i start Outlander by Diana Galbaldon.

message 18: by Fayeboo (new)

Fayeboo Thromgar | 1 comments diana is my fav author i have read and reread the outlander series over and over, a while back i also made a casting vid on you tube. if anyone is interested to see :)

Julie (subtleseasonings) | 88 comments I read this book two years ago and just somewhat liked it. It was fine, but I wasn't in love with it. It seemed to drag a bit in places, and I did find myself skimming over some paragraphs. I didn't really identify with any of the characters, and I didn't particularly enjoy the "beating" scene.

Nicole (lunakaos) | 165 comments Justine wrote: "Had to get the audiobook for this once since the kindle version doesn't seem to be available in Australia? Excited to try an audio version for the first time though!"

Justine this book is called Cross Stitch in Australia not Outlander.

Kathryn Weis | 60 comments The beginning of the novel was slow, but once it got going a few chapters in I was hooked and finished the series in like two weeks.

Malin (maline) | 43 comments I first discovered this book in 1998, thanks to my good friend Erica. I'm still convinced that I would have tanked on my oral high school exam that year, if there hadn't conveniently been a teachers' strike at that time. I was completely obsessed with these books (seriously, I did not do any revision, just read Gabaldon), and have read the entire series (minus An Echo in the Bone, which I haven't got round to because there are so many other shiny books out there distracting me) at least twice.

The scenes in the prison with Black Jack Randall (and some of the aftermath) still makes me cry, every time.

Ashley H. (ashleydoogah) | 20 comments I'm only a third of the way through the book (started it a while back), but I love the detailed descriptions. Some of my favorite parts so far -- well, those that don't involve Jamie anyway -- are the descriptions of the plants and medicine. (Maybe because I'm obsessed with alchemy in video games!) That apothecary/surgery room with all of its vials and strange folk remedies sounds so interesting to explore, and Gabaldon's vivid writing helps me picture all the details.

Claire as a mature, well-rounded heroine is refreshing, too. She's a nurse, she's married, she has her own interests, and she's perfectly capable of making up her own mind. She doesn't instantly fall for the hero. Even though she has a connection with him early on, the romance takes its time in a rather realistic way, I think. I love that.

Savannah (nicocoer) | 13 comments This is one of my mother and I's favorite series. I'm so excited to have y'all reading it!

I should probably reread though as I don't want to make an ass of myself if I mixed events from the other parts of the series.

message 25: by Justine (new) - added it

Justine | 56 comments I got the audiobook (like the other Justine!) so that I could "read" during my holiday driving. I'm only through chapter 2 at this point, but I already have some strong impressions.

1. The heroine is a strong character. Even though (time travel not withstanding) she would be slightly older than my grandmother, she has had a career, so I can relate to her as a contemporary woman. She deals with whatever life throws at her. I liked how she reacted to her husband's inquiry about infidelity, turning it around and questioning HIS motives. My impression is that she is smart in her work and in her relationships.

2. This is not your average, formulaic romance. So many conventions of the genre have been violated in the first few chapters. I look forward to seeing if (or how) the emotional aspect of the romance works without the formula.

Nicole (nike13) | 6 comments Just got on the waiting list for this book from the library - only 2 people ahead of me so I think I'll still be able to read it in time :)

Sharon | 3 comments On its own Outlander is one of my favorite books that I have ever read. It's true as someone mentioned earlier that there are parts that get a bit dark, which continues as the series progresses. However, that is something that I loved about the book as I enjoy darker material. The characters are strong and lovable, but flawed and realistic.

Tegan (joggiwagga) | 276 comments Started the audiobook a few days ago. People kept telling me I should read it and I've been going "eh."

I should have listened to people sooner, only on disk 2 of 28, but loving it.

Also while there has been limited sex so far, the outdoors romp she has with her husband in the beginning was rather beautifully written.

Raquel (ubergeekygirl) | 19 comments I love this book. It is absolutely fantastic. I don't agree at all that the book's pacing is off or slow, it grabbed me early and didn't let go. I'm determined to read the rest of the series now!

Gunnhildur Rúnarsdóttir (grafarholt) | 173 comments Thanks to those that found that Outlander was published under the name "Cross Stitch Outlander" on Amazon Kindle I will be able to read this months main.

message 31: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary (mkrhodes84) | 40 comments Just thought everyone might wanna read this :)

message 32: by Kelaine (new)

Kelaine | 31 comments I'm going to look for a copy at the local used indie bookstore. I read this book after being cajoled by all my friends in the 90's. Like Twilight, I kinda felt it was over-hyped. I remember being annoyed with the heroine. I'm going to try to read it with an open mind the second time around and perhaps my older self will have new perspective.

Amanda (yonderuusagi) | 17 comments Can I just said I read this again? I liked it and everything but it was a biotch to get through the first time and I'm not exactly happy with the author; her comments about fanfiction authors urked me and not just a little.

message 34: by Jenn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jenn (wildflowerz) I loved this book! I picked it up a few years ago after hearing the author would be coming to Dragon*Con. Several weighty tomes later, I caught up and am up to date with the series. I loved all the books except the last one, and even it was still pretty pretty good!

message 35: by Kat (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kat I am about 20% into the book now. I am really, really enjoying it! It is so well written. I feel like it has kept me guessing who the love interest was going to be up until I hit about the 4th chapter and now I think I am pretty sure, lol.

message 36: by Ender (new) - rated it 1 star

Ender Wiggin (enderwigginout) | 137 comments I've only finished chapter 15, but I'm so completely bored with this book. Don't get me wrong, it's very well written for a romance novel...I'm just bored with the plot and bored with the characters. Also, I'm having trouble feeling anything but grossed out since something in the story stinks or is sweaty or dirty on every single page.

I might have to read a hundred pages a night until I'm finished and read something else on the side.

message 37: by Jen (new) - added it

Jen (jen_djinn) | 1 comments Ender wrote: "I've only finished chapter 15, but I'm so completely bored with this book. Don't get me wrong, it's very well written for a romance novel...I'm just bored with the plot and bored with the characte..."

THANK YOU. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who didn't just fall in love with this book. While I do find Jamie interesting, Claire is sort of a bland Everywoman who can't seem to make a good decision to literally save her own life. And while I do love me some good sexy-times, I was kinda hoping for more, well, plot in a seven-hundred-some page book. I can easily see how this could be someone's favorite book, but it's definitely not mine.

message 38: by Katie (last edited Jan 01, 2013 06:05PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Katie (katie_jones) | 348 comments I didn't see Claire that way at all! I loved that she was a war-time nurse, (which is akin to a surgeon in the 18th century) who wasn't afraid to use her medical knowledge to help people, despite the danger to her herself (risk of being called a witch)...And that she isn't afraid of her own sexuality (like some simpering protagonists), or overly sexualized like others we've read.

AND considering this was a first-novel for Diana Gabaldon, I think the author did an amazing job. I've read some first-written books that were reeeeal messes ;) Jamie is for sure in my fictional 5 (perhaps at the top...I'd want to grow old with him!)

message 39: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary (mkrhodes84) | 40 comments I've finished my outlander audio book and I loved it,, I had some things I didn't care for but I giggled and loved every min even when there where things not just right to me,,, I hope everyone can enjoy the book for what it is with out picking it apart to bad!

Jennifer (thebookishginger) | 25 comments I've been listening to the audio book for this one and am loving it so far. I just finished the wedding night chapter and was laughing so hard that I had to explain it to my husband, he basically gave me this look like I'm stupid and went back to his game. But so far I'm loving this one. I can definitely see myself continuing on with the series already :)

Also, although I wasn't sure about listening to a book with sexy times, I didn't find it awkward like I thought I would, at least so far. I'm loving the narrator, and have bee giggling a lot and even blurting out exclamations that earn more more odd looks from my husband.. :P

message 41: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary (mkrhodes84) | 40 comments "and was laughing so hard that I had to explain it to my husband, he basically gave me this look like I'm stupid and went back to his game." "and have bee giggling a lot and even blurting out exclamations that earn more more odd looks from my husband.. :P

LMBO I was doing this to but I plugged it in to my computer surround sound and let him listen to some of it with me and He was giggling at it to! I think it would hurt his pride to say so but I think he wants to listen to the whole thing.. He even went as far as to ask if I minded him taking my iPod to work "for the games" I was thinking Yeah right Ok!!

message 42: by Ender (new) - rated it 1 star

Ender Wiggin (enderwigginout) | 137 comments Okay, I tried, I really tried. I read a bit more tonight, but I only made it halfway through before I officially gave up in a major way. I LOATHE this book. I went from boredom to complete disgust to confusion. Am I reading the same book that everyone else is?

Biggest complaint? Every 50 pages, some man or group of men attempt to rape the main character. Yes, ye olde days were crap for women, but they could actually make it through a whole week without an attempted rape, just sayin'. Even Claire's marriage is pretty rapey, as she certainly doesn't want to get married and certainly doesn't desire to have sex with her new husband right after, but she's forced into it (as is he, poor guy).

Yes, I know marriages often ended up like that. It doesn't mean I want to read a romance novel based on one. And further, I suppose I prefer my romance books without so much (or any) rape and/or non-consensual sex, but apparently it really gets Claire in the mood. I know I always get hot and bothered after someone nearly rapes me and I have to kill him in self-defense. I've always heard that the blood of my enemies wet across my skin is a better aphrodisiac than a plateful of oysters.

Don't get me started on Claire. It's a really bad sign when you deeply wish that your main character would just die horribly at the end of every chapter. I can't believe that a nurse who spent years in a war zone and around soldiers would act as she does in these situations.

The one thing...and the only thing...this book had going for it was that Jamie wasn't a total alpha male douche bag and actually lacked the rape-y nougat-y center that pretty much defined every other male character has in this book. And then, we get to the spanking/beating scene.

Wow. Really? I mean...REALLY? You've got to be f'ing kidding me. If it wasn't a library book, I'd throw it across the room. THIS is the romantic lead? You know, I wasn't thrilled with this whole marriage crap anyway, but now I'm supposed to root for this guy? Or find this amusing in some way? Yeah, because beating your lover is so gosh darn hilarious. Whack, whack, whack.

Geesh, grow a pair, Claire. Threaten to slice off his balls or poison his dinner or never have sex with him again if he dares to lay a finger on you. You can at least do that, can't you? You meek, idiotic little twit? words. I hate what this book has to say about romance, I hate what it says about women, and I really, really detest what it says about men.

And on that note, I'm really curious what our esteemed male colleagues have to say about this novel. How do you feel about your entire gender being painted as rapists and/or wife beaters?

message 43: by Emily (last edited Jan 02, 2013 06:34AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Emily | 266 comments I knew this books would get some good discussion going. I like this book, but it had brought many important issues to light. I think that is the measure of a good book. Does it make you think repeatedly about an issue or see it from a different light? I wanted to wait until I was finished to review this book but here are a few thoughts.

“One never stops to think what underlies romance. Tragedy and terror, transmuted by time.” - Outlander
I love this quote and thinks it explains fully that Outlander is not really romantic. The book is pretty brutally realistic. The setting while beautiful and wild is not harmless and pretty. People back then were on the edge of life and death. The rules were different. This was a time when life expectancy was low and there was no second chances.

Yes there is attempted rape in this book. There is violence against men, women, and children. It may have been overdone for dramas sake, but I think the author really wanted us to know how violent this time period was. As much as we like to romantize the past it was dirty and mean at times. I think the author knows that we are shocked by the violence and does not try to justify it overmuch.

As far as the Claire bashing goes here is my two cents. She shows her badassness in many ways. But she is a multidimensional character and not a female fantasy. She was an army nurse during world war 2 and shows bravery and self possession during many stressful situations. I am an intensive care nurse and enjoyed throughly her taking over situations and caring for these patients as well as she could. Claire does stand up for herself against Jamie fighting him all the way and almost ending her relationship. He swears to her never to touch her again.

I had a lot of problems with the beating scene. The best I can do is this: this would have been a realistic thing to happen in these circumstances. The culture at the time would have justified this. Also it was a time of war and she disobeyed orders that put men's lives in jeopardy. It was humiliating and I was totally not cool with this book for it for a few days. I'm over it a little.

Anyway that's me standing up for this book. I would say calm down and keep reading because there's still a lot of good stuff here!

Also does anyone else read this book while drinking scotch?

message 44: by Megan (new) - added it

Megan Selva (m_selva) | 54 comments The Outlander series is my favorite series of all time. They're the only books I reread regularly -- a few months before a new addition comes out, I start the series over, and I love it.

The violence has never bothered me, for two reasons. One, it's historically accurate, in a broad sense; a lot happens to Claire, which is disproportional (even in the 18th C, I doubt any single individual from a landowning family was kidnapped, beaten, or raped *that* much), but she is one of the protagonists, so I get it. Two, it never strikes me as gratuitous, in the sense that it's just being used as plot filler. It's not spanking for spanking's sake. That's my read, anyway. And I'm hardly impartial :-D

Katie (katie_jones) | 348 comments ^I totally agree; the kind of spanking/degradation that really bothers me is the Christian Grey type

Claire's actions had consequences that we can't even fathom today. Women today enjoy more freedom and privilege than ever before in history (not that we're 100% there yet), but it's important to remember that as early as 200 years ago, we were barely above chattel in some cultures. The beating scene was hard...HARD to get through for me the first time. I had to close the book and get over my initial anger, then really think about the reality of the situation, or rather, the more real reality that she would have been beaten much worse by anyone else. Claire's actions may have been acceptable by today's standards, but to put men's lives in danger like that, in time of war, it was not only necessary, but appropriate for Jaime to act that way. I also believe that he was protecting her as well, for if he did not discipline her in that manner, someone else may have taken it upon himself to do much worse. I think we read a lot of books about headstrong women who always end up getting their way, but this isn't meant to be a fantasy world. There are fantasy elements, but this is meant to be history, and so it must follow more cultural rules than we've seen in other fantasy novels.
Not to say that anyone is right or wrong for liking or not liking that scene, or the book for that matter, I'm just adding my perspective. I think scenes like that are what make this story wildly different and somewhat more powerful or compelling than a lot of other romance books I've read. And I do see Jaime and Claire's marriage as a romance, most especially in the books that follow.

Emily | 266 comments Katie wrote: "^I totally agree; the kind of spanking/degradation that really bothers me is the Christian Grey type

Claire's actions had consequences that we can't even fathom today. Women today enjoy more freed..."

Yes I agree with you. There is definitely romance in this book. I was just saying it wasn't romantic in the sense of unreal. Or as merriam webster defines: marked by the imaginative or emotional appeal of what is heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious, or idealized

message 47: by Rose (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rose (riversideroserevolver) Picked up the book today. Can't wait to get started!

Jessica Andersen (jessmary) | 16 comments I love this book, the whole series actually. I think some of the parts that go slow the first time you read it are more enjoyable on a second read through, once you're more familiar with all the characters and once you've read other books in the series. Although, Gabaldon is long-winded, her books are nice to savor. Well, after the initial fast (well, fast as a 700 page book can be read) read to just find out what happens next!

message 49: by Ender (last edited Jan 02, 2013 09:47PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Ender Wiggin (enderwigginout) | 137 comments Yes, I'm well aware of the gender issues at the time; I'm not ignorant. I'm also well aware of the fact that life was hard and this takes place during wartime. I understand very well that rape was common, men beating women was common, and women were treated very much like children/property. However, common doesn't mean ubiquitous; it's common these days for men to sleep around, but not ALL men do.

Frankly, I really could care less if it's historically accurate for that time period. I just have zero interest in "rooting" for a romantic lead after such a beating scene. And pretty much every other man in the story is a creepy or psychopathic s.o.b. That's just not real any century.

Also, the other major point I had was that YES this is during wartime...and Claire just spent years of her life in a war. She would know very well how important it was to follow orders and that her actions had consequences. That's why I find her exceptionally dense (especially when you factor in her making no actual plan for what she might do when she gets to her all important henge).

message 50: by Emily (last edited Jan 03, 2013 01:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Emily | 266 comments Ender wrote: "Yes, I'm well aware of the gender issues at the time; I'm not ignorant. I'm also well aware of the fact that life was hard and this takes place during wartime. I understand very well that rape wa..."

I have to say two things. First of all it's a little bit silly to bash a character for being unable to handle time travel perfectly. She has little plans but what do you expect? What other options did she have but experimentation? Also I would say that after that Claire states that up until that point she had felt that the world she had traveled to had felt like fiction. Not real. That's why she did not follow orders (like she would have during world war 2). She felt like this world she had travelled to was not quite real to her.

Saying that I respect your opinions and am not sure I will continue this series at all. I too found myself way less rooting for Jamie after that scene. He was never my ideal male anyway. I liked the book for for the history, the rich background, and Claire.

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