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Outlander by Diana Gabaldon



Outlander book cover The year is 1945.  Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon — when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach — an “outlander” — in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord … 1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life … and shatter her heart.

For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire … and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
Random House


Book Club Ideas

Decorations

In one of the scenes (can’t say which lest I give too much away), decorations included a bouquet of wildflowers, set in water in a whisky tumbler (page 200). Among the objects that Jamie carried with him were “various small stones that looked interesting or had a good feel between the fingers” (page 517).

outlander book cover, pearls, mortar, pestle, wildflowers

Below are quotes from the book that I used as inspiration for the rest of the decorations:

“Both MacKenzies were clearly dressed for ceremony, in dark green kilts and well-cut coats” (page 78). I used a green plaid blanket as a tablecloth.

Claire was trained as a nurse but in the 1700s she could no longer rely on modern medicine. She had to be resourceful with the natural ingredients that were available and with the help of her friend Geilie who was an herbalist. “The air was thick with the delicious, spicy scent of drying basil, rosemary and lavender. A surprisingly modern long counter ran along one side of the room, displaying a remarkable assortment of mortars, pestles, mixing bowls, and spoons” (page 121)

“It was beautiful in the orchard, and I greatly enjoyed wandering through the cool mist of the Scottish morning, fingering through the damp leaves of the fruit trees for the bright cherries and smooth, plump apricots, squeezing gently to judge the ripeness” (page 116).

Claire received a pearl bracelet as a gift with a note that read “For a virtuous woman is a pearl of great price, and her value is greater than rubies” (page 621).

Attire

Fun kilt inspired outfits would be great to wear to your book club party for Outlander.

Music

The perfect music for a book club party for Outlander is Gaelic Scotland.


Book Club Menu

“Won-wonderful,” I managed to get out. Colum nodded. “Aye, that it is. Rhenish, ye know” (page 105). According to pullthecork.com, a Rhenish wine is dry white wine from the Rhine river valley in Germany. I unfortunately could not find this won-wonderful wine at my local liquor store, but hopefully you will have better luck.

“At the inn, food was readily available, in the form of a modest wedding feast, including wine, fresh bread and roast beef” (page 196). According to Scotlands-enchanting-kingdom.com, one of the dishes served throughout the country for Sunday dinner is the delicious roast beef, served with roast potatoes, Yorkshire Pudding and vegetable. This Roast Beef is served with Tatties and Neeps,which are Scottish for potatoes and turnips.

Roast beef, potatoes, turnips, onions

“He had brought with him the tray of refreshments; mugs of ale and fresh oatcakes spread with honey” (page 71).

Scottish-oat-cakes

“Next morning, roused at daylight by the twittering of birds outside and people inside, I dressed and found my way down the drafty corridors to the hall. Restored to its normal identity as a refectory, enormous cauldrons of porridge were being dispensed, together with bannocks baked on the hearth and spread with molasses.” (page 85) Bannocks are similar to oatcakes. A variation is this Pitcaithly Bannock which is made with almonds and candied lemon and orange peel.

almonds, candied lemon, orange peel

“Harvesting was grueling work, and Ian and Jamie were often nodding by the end of supper. On one occasion, I had left the table to fetch a brose pudding for dessert, and returned to find both of them sound asleep, and Jenny laughing quietly to herself amid the remains of supper” (page 481). This Brose Pudding is made with steel cut oats, heavy cream, honey and whiskey.
Oatmeal, heavy cream, whiskey, honey

Book Club Resources

Ratings at the time this post was published

Goodreads: 4.2 stars (?465,728 ratings)
Amazon: 4.5 stars (20,333 ratings)
LibraryThing: 4.2 stars (712 ratings)
My Rating: 4 stars. My reactions to reading Outlander were mixed. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and I enjoyed the ride through the Scottish Highlands, but this book is also very heavy on the romance. Not a bad thing, just wasn’t expecting it. There is a great cast of characters but some of the scenes may be a little violent for some.

Discussion Questions for Outlander

  1. What did you think of Claire? Do you think she was a good thing for the 1700s or did she just create more problems?
  2. Do you think Claire made the right choice when faced with the decision to return to 1945? What would you have done in her situation?
  3. On a hotness scale of 1-10, what would you rate Jamie? If not a 10, where is he lacking? (This seems to be the topic of many discussions) 🙂
  4. Would you classify this book as historical fiction, romance, or science fiction?
  5. Do you plan on continuing the Outlander series?

Here are some additional questions from litlovers.com:

  1. What kind of characters has Gabaldon has created? Given that she has created a historical / fantasy novel, are her characters realistically drawn? Are they emotionally and psychologically complex…or flat, one-dimensional and cartoonish?
  2. What assumptions does Jonathan Randall make regarding Claire upon first encountering her…and why?
  3. In what ways does Clair adjust to her new circumstances, and how does she put her 20th-century knowledge to work in an 18th-century world?
  4. How disorienting—or appealing—would it be for you to be transported back in time? How would you cope with the time change? What era would be most appealing to you to travel back to?
  5. If you time-traveled, how much of the future from which you have come would you be tempted to reveal? What might you attempt to change using your knowledge of modern times?
  6. The Outlander series was difficult to market, at first, not fitting into any neat genre of fiction. But it eventually caught on…and in a very big way. To what do you ascribe the huge popularity of this series? What is the fascination for its millions of readers?

Purchase Outlander at your favorite bookseller

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Additional Resources

Here is a wonderful video of the scenery and castles of the Scottish Highlands:


The Author

Dr. Gabaldon holds three degrees in science: Zoology, Marine Biology, and Quantitative Behavioral Ecology, (plus an honorary degree as Doctor of Humane Letters, which entitles her to be “Diana Gabaldon, Ph.D., D.H.L.” She supposes this is better than “Diana Gabaldon, Phd.X,”) and spent a dozen years as a university professor with an expertise in scientific computation before beginning to write fiction. She has written scientific articles and textbooks, worked as a contributing editor on the MacMillan ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMPUTERS, founded the scientific-computation journal SCIENCE SOFTWARE QUARTERLY, and has written numerous comic-book scripts for Walt Disney. None of this has anything whatever to do with her novels, but there it is.  She and her husband, Douglas Watkins, have three adult children and live mostly in Scottsdale, Arizona. From DianaGabaldon.com

The next books in the Outlander series


Do you have any other ideas or recipes for a book club party for Outlander? We would love to have you share them with us! You can leave a comment below and upload pictures as well.



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