Title: Cross Stitch
Series: Outlander #1
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Random House, 1991, Arrow Books
Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century – and a lover is another…
In 1945, Claire Randall is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon in Scotland. Innocently she walks through a stone circle in the Highlands, and finds herself in a violent skirmish taking place in 1743. Suddenly she is a Sassenach, an outlander, in a country torn by war and by clan feuds.
A wartime nurse, Claire can deal with the bloody wounds that face her. But it is harder to deal with the knowledge that she is in Jacobite Scotland and the carnage of Culloden is looming. Marooned amid the passion and violence, the superstition, the shifting allegiances and the fervent loyalties, Claire is in danger from Jacobites and Redcoats – and from the shock of her own desire for James Fraser, a gallant and courageous young Scots warrior. Jamie shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire, and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
On her second honeymoon, Claire goes for a walk in the Scottish highlands, and accidentally finds herself transported 200 years back in time. She finds herself in the middle of a war, not sure who to trust. No one knows who she is, where she’s come from. After an initial suspicion she is a prostitute, she proves herself as a good healer. Seems lucky that she is a nurse with a side interest in botany and knows all the useful properties of plants, helping to prove herself as a physician.
She finds herself drawn to Jamie Fraser, and for mutually beneficial reasons, they end up together. Their journey continues, they fall deeply in love, then Jamie goes off fighting and gets caught by the Redcoats (This is a REALLY simplified overview.) Can Claire get him out? What’s going to happen next? Will she stay? Will she make her way back to 1945?
I found this book quite slow to start, so it took me a while to get into it. I mean, come on. It’s close to 900 pages. The first 300 or so were… background. Setting the scene. Not a whole lot happening. But. AFTER that? I fell, hard and fast, for Jamie Fraser. Not too many books have affected me like that. Sure, many leading men make you wish you lived in fiction land, but they also have characteristics I don’t like so much, or they’re a bit ‘meh’, or one dimensional, or too perfect. And I forget about them once I’ve finished the book. But Jamie? Perfect. Rough around the edges, macho and all for saving face among the men, but in private so so so sweet and so innocent! Chivalrous, funny, strong, and honest. I found him so much more attractive, in so many ways, than Frank (the husband).
Claire…. Claire. I liked her, but there were things about her that just, plainly, irritated me. Sometimes, the way she acted was just so immature. There were times I really didn’t like her at all. But we got there in the end.
This book can be pretty graphic, and pretty brutal. There are descriptions of beatings – there are scenes where Jamie tells Claire about his childhood, and things that he’s been through in the past. There is a scene where Claire gets them into danger, and to ensure she doesn’t do it again, Jamie beats her. She hates this, but luckily so does he, and promises not to do it again. I really struggled with this, did a whole “oh no he didn’t! She’d better kick his ass outta there.” But I have to remember the time setting, and the historical accuracies, and I eventually got over it. Late in the book, Jamie gets caught and thrown in prison. He is tortured (by Frank’s ancestor, no less), brutally tortured. That one’s hard to read. Very descriptive, and when Jamie’s telling Claire about it afterwards – there were tears. I felt everything that had happened to him.
OK Chelsea, stop rambling.
It took me years to get around to reading this book, partly because there are so many of them. Now I’ve started, I’ve set myself on the roller coaster I need a couple of books breather, then I’ll hook into the next instalment!
Have you read Cross Stitch? I’d definitely recommend it if you like a good mix of action and romance.