It sort of pains me to write this post because on Goodreads, so many people I know and respect love this book. They gave it five out of five stars. People in a book club I used to belong to rave about it. The trailer for it’s television adaptation on Starz looks sexy and fun. I love historical fiction, time travel, and I heard the heroine was feisty.
I picked up Outlander at the library and got about 300 pages in before I put it down. I just couldn’t read it.
(You’ve been warned! Spoilers ahead!)
Outlander is the story of Claire Randall who was a nurse in WWII and gets sent back in time to the Scottish Highlands in the 18th century. In order to protect herself from the constant danger of the British, Claire marries a Scottish clansman, Jamie. Now, at first, Jamie is a total stud muffin. He’s compassionate and kind and thoughtful, as well as super sexy despite the scars of torture. Claire becomes friends with him and then they fall in love and have a lot of steamy sex. It’s a face paced adventure and then Claire decides she wants to return home to the 20th century, and who can blame her really, so she runs away. Trouble finds her when the nasty Captain Randall shows up and tries to rape and torture her. Never fear though, Jamie to the rescue! He saves her and they return to their lives in Scotland.
Except at this point Jamie has to prove to the clan that he’s still in charge, that he’s still “a man” so he straps Claire.
I was reading this and wondering ‘wait, is he beating his wife?’ and Claire protested but in the end she took the beating. It’s justified as being a cultural thing with the Scottish clans. However, I was really uncomfortable reading it.
By this time I felt like I was making no progress in this door stop of a book and I’m sensitive to instances of abuse, so I put the book aside. I wanted to know what happened in the end so I got on Wikipedia. According to the article on the book, Claire ends up deciding she loves Jamie more when he presents her with a choice of returning home or staying with him. She also rescues Jamie when he’s kidnapped by the bad guys. The book ends with Claire’s realization that she’s pregnant.
I know lots of people like these books and Jamie. I mean, it’s quite the act of love for him to take Claire back to the scene of the time travel and give her a choice. He loves her and desires her and it’s all very sexy but I still couldn’t get the whole beating your wife to save face thing out of my mind. I could never love someone who hit me, no matter what the reason. Hitting your wife is inexcusable to say the least. So how come he gets to be, in a way, excused?
Am I the only one who has a hang up with this? I feel like I am since I haven’t seen much about it on the internet. Am I overreacting because I’m sensitive to this subject? Should I give ‘Outlander’ another chance? Does the whipping incident get addressed and resolved later? Was it all some sort of terrible dream? Granted, I didn’t finish the book so I can’t say that I hated it entirely…I just didn’t feel comfortable with reading any further. I also will give the TV show a chance. It seems like something I would like and feel sort of bad about.
Let me know in comments or tweet me @EmHof to discuss my unpopular opinion. Until next time, I’m out!