Title: Cross Stitch (UK Title) / Outlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Genre: Historical fiction/Historical romance
Rating: Can I give this 6 stars out of 5? No? Well then a very high 5 stars!
When wartime nurse Claire Randall goes on vacation in 1945 with her husband Frank to the Scottish highlands, she never dreams that she might walk through a stone circle and end up in the middle of a skirmish between English Redcoats and Scottish highlanders in 1743. Now, stranded and friendless, Claire must find her way amongst these people, fighting suspicion from both the Scotsmen who give her sanctuary and the English they hate, with but one true ally - a passionate and sincere young Scots outlaw named James Fraser.
What I can say about Outlander? I finished this last night and immediately made a post in my livejournal with lots of fangirlish squeeing going on. I'm trying very hard not to repeat that here, so I can make an intelligent review. To summarize it, though: Diana Gabaldon is amazing at her character building. I completely fell in love with Jamie, who is a very three-dimensional character, not just some generic Scottish highland romance hero. I was with Claire every step of her journey through time and the Highlands - including being PO'd at Jamie when she was. I hated the antagonist with every ounce of feeling I could muster, and loved Jamie's sister Jenny entirely.
Not only is Gabaldon a master at building characters, she presents Claire's fantastical story in such a way as to be entirely believable. I almost believe that if I were to go back to Inverness and Culloden, I would be able to find a circle of stones which could take me back to the Jacobite uprising - not that I would really want to find myself in that mess. I completely believed Claire's encounter with Nessie, and loved all the little historical details Gabaldon added to the book.
I cannot wait to race through the next 5 books in this series, and then on to the Lord John series (which is a companion series to Outlander - it takes place during the same time period, but with entirely different characters). Then I'll probably go back and re-read them again to catch all the details I missed the first time around. The book is some 850 pages long, and having gone through it in a week I know I missed a good deal of detail. I keep having to ask my mother (who introduced me to the series) about some bit or another, and have to refrain from begging her to tell me what happens later in the series!