From The Pages to the Screen: Outlander Review by Ellen


From The Pages to the Screen: Outlander Review by EllenOutlander by Diana Gabaldon
Published by Doubleday Canada on 2010-12-22
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Pages: 613
Format: Paperback
Goodreads
five-stars
Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another...In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an

It’s no secret that two of my favorite things include history and time travel (I’m a bit obsessed with Doctor Who), so I’m not sure how it took me this long to read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  I’d seen Michelle rave about the books and knew about the television show, but somehow it took forever to convince my stubborn self to give the series a chance.  I’m happy that I did.

Outlander follows the life of twentieth-century girl Claire Randall as she unexpectedly and accidentally finds herself in the eighteenth century Scottish Highlands.  Throughout the story you find a blend of action, humor, and romance as Claire learns how to survive in an unfamiliar environment.  Ultimately, she must make the decision between staying in the past and finding her way back to the future.

I thought Outlander was a great read.  It’s a nice change to read a story where the female protagonist doesn’t set out on an adventure to discover romance, but instead, romance discovers her.  Instead of giving a typical review – you can find Michelle’s here – I thought I would compare how the story translated from the pages to the television screen.

Starz released the first half of Outlander in 2014 with plans to continue the TV next month.  The show has remained true to the book so far excluding one major piece.  In Outlander the book, we do not receive glimpses into the life that Claire left behind.  We have no idea whether time has continued onward or whether she would return to the same moment in which she left.  From the author’s perspective, it would not make sense to add snippets from the twentieth century because it would disrupt the overall plot.

The show answers any questions concerning time.  Outlander the show creates scenes surrounding Claire’s husband Frank Randall.  We are able to see the mental struggle that occurs following Claire’s disappearance and learn about Frank as a person.  He is a relatively undeveloped character in the book unsurprisingly because he is absent for most of it.  Instead of Frank, we have Jonathan Randall, who is Frank’s ancestor and doppelganger.

An oft-debated discussion occurs with character casting.  When you read a book first, you develop your own idea of how the character should look and act.  Sometimes your vision is captured in the show or movie, and sometimes you develop an irrational disdain towards the actor because he or she does not match your vision.

This is a very subjective topic, but for me the show falls flat on capturing the characters correctly.  In the show, Claire, portrayed by Caitriona Balfe, looks as I imagined but does not seem to be as strong a woman as in the book.  Sam Heughan on the other hand does a fantastic job portraying Jaime but, in my mind, is not how I pictured the character.

Where the translation from book to screen excels is the setting.  Outlander is filmed in Scotland, so we are able to see the natural Scottish beauty that Gabaldon details in the book.  We hear Highlanders speak Gaelic, we see castles, and, of course, we see wondrous kilts.

In my opinion, Outlander is one of the better page-to-screen stories that I have encountered.  I was so happy with the book that I binge watched the show.  My hope is that the show creators continue to follow the story as true as possible.  With the second half of the season beginning in a couple weeks, Starz has released a couple exclusives.  An important difference that will occur is that the show will now feature episodes told through Jaime’s point of view.  I can understand this need, as Jaime has a complex history, but I don’t want the story sacrificed just to give the lead “hunk” more screen time.

Ellen

What do you think?

  • […] first is my review of Outlander and how well (or not) the show has interpreted the […]

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