Here goes! My first book review not written for some required school thing. I had fun re-reading this book (for what was likely at least the third time) with the new intention of sharing it with others. I took notes and did a little research and feel prepared to share my opinion with you all! Before this post you’ve been privy to my unresearched opinions on things, so you should now be feeling p r e t t y special. One quick note before we start – I don’t like reading book reviews that are mostly a summary. So, if you stumbled upon this looking for an extensive summary review, fair warning! You’re not going to get one.
The Outlander is a fairly hefty book (387 pages) that takes me about 3 hours to read, less if I’m not going slower than normal in order to write a book review. It’s neither a particularly fast read (I’m looking at you, Janet Evanovich), nor is it anything close to the undertaking of the Lord of the Rings. It sits comfortably somewhere in the middle, a book that requires your attention but not years of attentive worry that you might have missed something. I like that in a book. If you enjoy reading about the turn of the century or frontier living, this is a good book for you. If you have never tried reading about those things, this is a good book for you. If you think you don’t like reading those things, I encourage you to try again. This could be a good book for you. What I enjoy in particular about this book is that all of the interesting historicity of it is just the background music to the story of Mary Boulton, as it should be. I really like this character. She’s only 19, but (as I’m sure was true with many who existed in times such as hers) she experienced much hardship way before most of us feel prepared to grocery shop on our own. (I’m still struggling with that. Anyone else just sort of meander down each aisle hoping that inspiration will hit?) Something I find interesting is that she’s only called Mary at very specific points in the story, the rest of the time she is simply referred to as the widow.
Here’s the only summary-type thing you’ll get from me:
- it’s set in 1903, so turn of the century. fun!
- takes place in the mountain ranges of canada, includes a look into the life of a (factual) mining town called Frank.
- follows a young girl as she flees her past.
I kind of hate it because, even though I’ve only given you the barest of bones of the story, I’ve revealed it. However, I want you to have some idea of what you’d be getting in to. I’m torn. Let me know what you think! Mini summary or no?
Moving on! It is extremely evident to me that the author has not only put the time in to produce this novel, but is also a poet. Her work is descriptive, emotive, and just plain pleasant overall. She also wrote a fan biography of Gillian Anderson – – which I thought was funny, because the last time I revisited this book was after I had first begun to watch the X-Files, so for a hot second I thought maybe I had bought a book by Scully and never realized it.
My favorite chapter is the first one. It’s immediately enticing, and it is the only time Mary is described as ‘the girl’. She merits this description only twice, and thenceforth she is described as the widow. (I am so excited I was able to use thenceforth in a sentence!) The second chapter is good too, though, and includes what may be a Macbeth reference!
“She tried not to look at her hands. Who knew what was painted there?”
What do you think? Am I reading too much into it?
As I already said, I think the author’s experience in poetry is extremely present in this work as well, and for that reason there were many parts of it that resonated, but I found this particular sentence to be my favorite, as well as a very good overall sentence for this story in general:
“Abundance lay about her, but she starved.”
Ultimately, I find this to be a story of a lost woman who comes to find a certain approximation of herself. Seeing as we are all lost people struggling to find ourselves, I see no reason anyone shouldn’t find this a worthwhile read.
Would I recommend this book? Definitely. Also I already did that so this is a bit redundant.
Would I read this book again? Sure. But I’m going to have to give it a few years. When you read as fast as I do (and enjoy it as much), it’s inevitable that you go back and reread. This book has gone through at least three (but likely four) reads in the past couple of years, so it’s going to go back on the shelf for now. If I like you enough, I might let you borrow it.
If you’re offended by me providing a link to buy a good book that benefits me, oh well! I’m sure you’ll be able to move on at some point.
for next week:
THE RIVER WIFE
by Jonis Agee