Good morning! I actually dreamt about the book I'm recommending today. (In case you're wondering, yes, dreamt is an acceptable past tense of dream, though this particular spell checker is making ugly red squigglies at me.)
I'm a fast reader. In the past, I've devoured books and stories and plots so quickly that I don't remember character names... Inhale the story. So this first recommendation was a true treat for me.
"Outlander " by Diana Gabaldon c. 1991 626 pages.
Claire Randall was a nurse for the British army until 1945. A weekend to reunite with her husband Frank, also just released from duty, brought her to Scotland. Taking a walk in her perfectly acceptable little 1945 summer dress, she stumbles across an old stone henge. She becomes dizzy, disoriented, there's a terrible sound... a terrible pulling apart of her body... and then it's over.
Stumbling down the hillside, she sees several Scots in KILTS running full speed, followed by British soldiers in red coats. Is there a reenactment? A film crew? Is she hallucinating? A hand covers her mouth and yanks her into the brush. The British soldier that's grabbed her looks like her husband. But, this is 1745, this lookalike has nothing in common with her dear Frank, and she's apparently dressed in attire only fitting for a prostitute.
Claire has nothing short of a wild adventure in this book. She finds no help with the British, but with the Scots - likely the very criminals being sought. Her knowledge of anatomy is quite useful in this brutal time, though her 20th century mouth gets her in a bit of trouble. She's no wimp, and she can be a bit salty for the 18th century. There's bad blood between the two countries, though, and regardless of being a woman, to many of the Scots, she's simply English - an Outlander - and there's always suspicion.
Ms. Gabaldon wrote over 600 pages and when I finished it, I felt like I'd really read something. It wasn't finished in an evening or two. And, she made me want to read every word. The history is well researched and entertaining to experience. The relationships are as complicated as relationships can be. Sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do. Sometimes you want to do things you shouldn't, and this book has plenty of both.
And when you're done... there are 6 more in the series. Book 8 "Written In My Own Heart's Blood" comes out in 2013.
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