On a scale of bodice laces ripped, I am popping all my grommets for the Canadian premiere of Outlander (starting on August 24, at 10:00 p.m. ET, on Showcase). The plot is a bit of a tough sell if you've never read the book series. I can remember my friend describing the first book, quite accurately, like so: "Well, there's this army nurse who reunites with her husband in Scotland after the war, but she falls through some stones and goes back in time and meets a dashing young Scottish warrior." It's a bit of "uh-huh, right..."
A series of eight massive novels and one TV series can't be wrong, however. I devoured the novels one-handed during the days I was home nursing my boys (now three and seven)—props to the author, Diana Gabaldon, for being both prolific and entertaining—and am very attached to the sassy, smart, and independent heroine, Claire Randall (played by Catriona Balfe). The story of how a modern woman would cope—and possibly get into a wee bit of trouble—in 1740s Scotland is surprisingly complex. Claire is a little ahead of her time for women's liberation in the 1940s, so the 1740s are quite another challenge. Given her independence and funny modern ideas about women doing as they please, Claire is set for a perfect clash with brash young Scot Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan).
The books defy genre and are part romance, part adventure, and part science fiction (heavy on the fiction—if you are looking for a satisfying explanation as to WHY Claire can travel time, it's a bit thin). How the books got started is a story that would make any aspiring novelist or working writer nearly sick with envy—Gabaldon simply wrote her first novel and got it right on the first try. Will the series be able to deliver the same balance and get it right? Showcase has a preview scene available here. Heughan is definitely not the Jamie I cast in my head, but if he can telegraph the complexities of his paper counterpart, he can be forgiven for not being a real ginger.
Whether you've been through Claire and Jamie's adventures already or are discovering them for the first time with the new TV series, they are a pair of adventurers worth spending your time with.
SPOILER ALERT: The series has already begun airing on the U.S. Cable Channel STARZ, so any of your friends (and Tweeps) south of the border will be ahead of you.
If you're the type who likes to read the book first, the Outlander Series made our Top 5 Romantic Books list.
If Claire and Jamie make you want to hop the pond to see where their adventures take place, our own Erica Ehm has made the trip.