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Time Travel, History and Romance

outlanderdvdWhen a good friend of mine found out that I was a fan of Game of Thrones, she turned me on to Outlander after it had aired last year. Although comparisons have been drawn to Game of Thrones, these two series are not entirely similar (admittedly, both of the book series were difficult to market, were “word of mouth” books and took a good while before being translated to screen). But Game of Thrones is epic high fantasy that takes place in a world nothing like our own and is dependent on magic, dragons and family sagas. Whereas Outlander takes place in a historically accurate Scotland and is more historical fiction/romance with a twinge of science fiction thrown in the beginning.

Our story opens with the heroine Claire Randall, a former British Army nurse seeking to reconnect with her husband Frank after a WWII-induced separation. Their story begins on their second honeymoon in Inverness, Scotland, where Frank indulges his passion in genealogy (which you can do with the Library’s resources), while Claire focuses her energy on botany. After witnessing a pagan ritual at an ancient stone circle with her husband, Claire ventures out alone to gather some specimens. She’s drawn to a standing stone and, as far as her husband in 1945 is concerned, vanishes without a trace. This serves as the jumping-off point for her adventure as she struggles to grasp what’s going on around her, when she is and where she is.

Though she quickly realizes she’s still in Scotland, she can’t quite figure out how she landed on a cinema set for a costume drama. However, she soon gathers this is no set when she notices that the actors are firing live ammunition. Through a stroke of bad luck, she runs into Captain “Black Jack” Randall and is almost raped, but is saved by Dougal McKenzie’s band of Scots and taken hostage. It is at this point that she discovers she has fallen through time to 18th century war-torn Scotland, where being an Englishwoman isn’t always a great thing to be. Her captors lead her to Castle Leoch, the heart of the McKenzie Clan. She is suspected of being a Sassenach spy and tasked with the unpaid job of healer, while they try to figure her out. If you expected a damsel-in-distress story, this isn’t it. Claire is a capable, clever (and thanks to her husband Frank, knows her history), complicated, independent and stubborn modern-day woman (for 1945 at least).

outlanderDevoted fans of the Outlander series who have been waiting (… and waiting … and waiting) for these novels to be successfully translated to the small screen, have had their patience rewarded tenfold with the Starz series. There is demonstrated effort to keep the series as faithful to the books as possible.  Created by Battlestar Galactica show runner Ronald D. Moore, this series enlisted author Diana Gabaldon as a consultant, thereby assuaging any anxieties that Gabaldon’s loyal fanbase may have had. If nothing else, watch for the great scenery, fantastic costumes and dedication to historical accuracy. Mr. Moore has an amazing team of costume designers, set decorators, writers, weapons and riding experts and Scottish Gaelic language coaches for the actors that would rival Game of Thrones any day (well, except for the dragons …).

If a bit of adventure, time-travel, history and romance are your thing, by all means check out the DVD sets (volume 1 and 2) today. In the meantime, take some time out to brush up on your history of the Jacobite Rebellion and Bonnie Prince Charlie. If you want to take it to a whole new level (and please do!), you can also learn a bit of Scottish Gaelic using the library’s resources. Season 2 of Outlander begins in April on Starz.

Cheers!

-Whitney

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Traveling back in time with Outlander

Note: Today’s post includes spoilers – read at your own risk.

Outlander is a TV show that airs on Starz and is based on a series of books with the same name by Diana Gabaldon. A friend recommended the TV show to me. Now, I haven’t read the books nor do I plan on it. Usually, I’m not a fan of historical fiction, but I like this show. I think that I enjoy period pieces on screen instead of in literature.

The main character is Claire Beauchamp and she’s a nurse during World War II in 1945. The war ends and Claire is reunited with her husband.

While out exploring plants, Claire stumbles upon a stone and after touching it gets transported back in time to Scotland in 1743. When she arrives, Captain Randall of the Red Coat army, who eerily looks just like her husband, Frank, tries to sexually assault her. Claire is then rescued by Dougal Mackenzie of the Mackenzie clan of Scotland and taken back to their castle. Everyone there is suspicious of Claire and thinks that she’s a British spy. Some of the people get over it, but not all. Claire adjusts to life at the castle, but there are some bumps along the way as she tries to make it back home.

Claire Beauchamp herself is a strong, female character. She stands up against injustice. An example of this is in episode 5 when Dougal wanted to keep a goat that belonged to a family who had a baby that needed milk. Claire also doesn’t take crap from anyone. I would consider her to be a feminist because she always has lines that echo this sentiment. A lot of the men on the show are sexist and misogynistic and Claire points that out every chance that she gets and I love it.

Claire is also a sexually liberated woman and isn’t afraid of her sexuality. An example of this occurred in episode 5 when she asked Jamie if he wanted to sleep in her room after she found him sleeping outside of it. Jamie asked her “What about your reputation?” Her response was “I’ve already slept under the stars with you and 10 other men.” I loved this response. I thought that it was very progressive.

One complaint that I have about the show is that a lot of the male characters define Claire only by her beauty instead of by her intelligence and talent as a nurse. Although it doesn’t surprise me it still manages to annoy me. One thing that surprised me was that the writers made Jamie’s character a virgin instead of Claire. Considering the time period it’s all about a woman’s purity, so the fact that Jamie was a virgin was a switch of gender stereotypes. Jamie is a part of the Mackenzie clan and Claire ends up nursing him back to health a few times. As the show goes on, their relationship develops. I love the development of their relationship. Although the creator of the show, Ronald D. Moore, said in an interview that episode 7 is when we see Claire and Jamie fall in love with each other; I noticed the signs earlier on. It may seem fast to a lot of people, but it didn’t to me because I had seen the signs earlier, so when episode 7 came on I was fine and happy about it.

Outlander isn’t a perfect show, but I thoroughly enjoy it. There were a couple of scenes that disturbed me so I’m warning you now. The first part of season one is available in our catalog. The second part of season one started on Saturday, April 4th on Starz.

Kayla

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Courtesy of Wikipedia

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