Maybe you’ve been wondering where all of Becca’s book recommendations are this year? Well, if you’ve asked me in person, you’ll know that I set myself a goal this year of re-reading all of the eight published Outlander novels in order to read the latest release from 2021 (which has been taking up a lot of time on my reading schedule). So here is how that has been going!
I knew this re-read was going to be a fairly daunting task. Each book runs around 800+ pages, and even with the best intentions and my love of reading, there are just times that you can’t get in the mood to pick up such a massive tome. I tried to get a couple of friends to join me in a book club so I’d have accountability, but I think they thought my timeline was a little ambitious, so I was on my own!
I’m sure many people are wondering why on Earth I would waste so much time re-reading such large books, but I last read them probably eight or more years ago and I honestly couldn’t remember what happened in the latest novel. While re-reading though, I think I have figured out why I couldn’t remember the storyline for each book. It’s the writing style.
Diana Gabaldon writes beautifully, with a lot of detail, to accurately describe the time period, characters and setting. However, the books are written in more of a vignette-style narrative (if there is such a thing), where lots of short, interesting scenes occur, but they don’t necessarily build upon each other to create the bell-curve of a story climax most readers are used to in a fiction narrative. In fact, she has told fans that each book’s narrative has a different shape in her mind and that is how she organizes the plot for each novel. Being a plot-driven reader, I enjoy getting whisked away in her fast-paced storytelling, where you never really know what will happen on the next page, but it does make recalling what you read two books ago a challenge!
That being said… I am also discovering that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t really need to spend the time and effort re-reading these since the story only partly relies on the events of the previous book. I probably could have read a brief synopsis online and been well equipped enough to pick up the latest novel and not be completely lost in the plot. Luckily, I do enjoy the books immensely and even found that a few of them felt like brand new stories because of how much I had forgotten. I think this may be my last giant re-read of this series, but the first book is a masterpiece, and I will definitely read it again when I find I am missing Jaime and Claire.