April 23, 2021

Outlander: Book and TV series

My middle sister has been talking up “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon for literally years, this being the 1991 title of the first of an eight book series. Actress-singer Jenny Riddle recently reminded me of these beloved historical fiction works in her capacity as co-owner of a new book store called Prairie Path Books in Wheaton. (An upcoming article will feature details.)

I must admit to having devoured romance novels as I passed through the tween to teen years so volume one of the series has taken me back to a pleasant time in my life. Yes, these extremely thick novels are laced with romance, but the writing is witty and well-wrought with Scottish history entertainingly illuminated. The books also fit the science fiction/fantasy category since time travel is an element of the plot.

World War II nurse Claire Randall finds herself flung headlong into turbulent 18th century Scotland while visiting some Stonehenge-like stones in the Scottish Highlands. She becomes involved with the dashing Scot Jamie Fraser. The villain of the 1743 scenario is none other than evil Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall with her 1940’s husband, Frank Randall being his direct descendant. Some of the steamy sex scenes have a whiff of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

The books have gained increased visibility now because of the Starz television series “Outlander” that commenced August 2014. After watching two episodes, I can say that creator Ronald D. Moore (of “Battlestar Galactica” fame) has captured the essence of the initial book. Caitriona Balfe is lovely and feisty as Claire with Sam Heughan bringing a hunky charm as warrior Jamie Fraser. Tobias Menzies masters a double role as intellectual husband Frank and sadistic forebear Black Jack Randall. The cinematography of the Scottish countryside makes me want to book a flight to Glasgow pronto.
In the meantime, I will content myself with seven more Gabaldon books and fourteen more Starz television episodes in Season 1. Join me in bag pipe music and haggis, anyone?

New episodes of “Outlander” on the Starz channel on Saturday evenings
Current episodes available for cable subscribers at: http://www.starzplay.com

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