I've been putting this one off for a while, due to the length and the fact that there are currently 7 more books in the series (at this time) that are just as long if not longer. I figured it was time to dive in since I've heard great things about this series, and I wasn't disappointed.
As usual, before I start my review I just want to make something clear. I was in no way 'okay' with and/or recommend the beating of any person. With that said, I know a lot of people could not get over that fact and resent this book for exactly that reason, but I forced myself through the rough spots with the perception that it was historically accurate. What would happen when someone needed to be punished for their actions in Scotland during the 1700s? They would most likely be flogged or belted or whatever was deemed fit. With everything that happened in this story, I don't believe that the author would have gotten away without at least one instance of this type of situation. I'm not saying that I just 'got over it', I'm saying that I tried to look past it in order to see the story clearly but it still affected me negatively to read these types of scenes.
Now, on to the good stuff.
I knew almost nothing about the book going into it, and I found that this probably made it better. If I had read the description about time travel and choosing between two loves, I probably would have rolled my eyes and moved on. I'm glad this wasn't the case.
I loved the writing. Gabaldon knows how to paint a pretty picture in your head with her intricate details and clearly did plenty of research on the subject matter. This is one thing that I absolutely love in writing (as can also be seen with one of my favorite authors, Donna Tartt). A lot of people say it's just too long with all these tiny details, and I can see that the book did have some unnecessary parts with little action, but I still enjoyed it even though it painfully long. By fitting all of these parts in, it creates better character development and scenery which just adds to the story in my opinion.
The characters were so elaborately created and flawed that it made me love them. One thing that I thought the story would have benefited from was a little more background of Claire's life in the beginning, more specifically concerning Frank. I found it hard to care about their marriage without knowing more about his personality other than that he was a scholar obsessed with his history. When it came time for Claire to choose whether to go back or to stay with Jamie, I didn't take Frank into consideration as much as I should have (and that's coming from someone who's pretty much completely against any sort of polygamy/infidelity).
Jamie and Claire had their flaws both separately and together, but you can't help rooting for their relationship because it's so barbaric and needy and something most romantics long for without all the instalove / triangle plots that are overused. I don't really count it as a relationship triangle because Frank and Jamie have never met (obviously) and the choice is much more than 'OMG who do I choose? This new hot guy or the other hot guy I've known forever' there was much more to it.
I loved the setting, also. I know almost nothing about Scotland or its history, but I found myself googling things throughout the book to find out more about what actually happened.
I will definitely be fronting the money for the rest of the series soon, maybe just not immediately. I need a little break from this world.