Okay let me start off with how I got to reading this book after watching the first half of Outlander, the TV series. I was hooked and couldn’t wait to read the books. I got this first book and fell in love with the language and plot, and the characters were great but then…
The main character Claire is beaten and raped by Jamie, the main guy and her husband. Punished because she almost gotten herself raped. I understand this book is fiction and fantasising being dominated by your partner and vice versa isn’t a bad thing, but when it comes to victim blaming (and Claire accepts that it’s HER FAULT FOR ALMOST GETTING RAPED), the author just calling the beating up and rape scene “spanking” and encourages readers to romanticise this abusive relationship between Claire and Jamie (yes, it becomes abusive – my love for Jamie died), that’s where you should draw the line.
I stopped reading the book afterwards. I couldn’t even touch it. I read other books to cleanse my mind with characters with more sense and no romanticised abuse or self-loathing. It wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that I returned to finish the book. My hatred for Jamie and readers’ love for him and this whole romanticisation of “kinky” love when it’s actually abusive annoyed me, still are. I hoped that Claire would leave Jamie and return to her time but she didn’t. Instead she lost some of her autonomy and has to obey him because she loves him (gag) – I know this is set in the 18th century but for fuck’s sake, Claire, a modern and FEMINIST woman, forgot herself. She becomes a typical housewife. And even when she and Jamie have sex with her consent, it doesn’t make their relationship healthy. Even his romantic words come out as possessive and rapey throughout the rest of the book.
What is worse is that Jamie uses his sad past to manipulate Claire into having sex with him and whenever he needs to justify his actions. Men who use their sad past to break a woman’s barrier or make them understand them is a red flag. Yes, Jamie is a victim of sexual abuse by Randall, the antagonist, but that doesn’t excuse him from being an abuser himself. Plus we don’t get to know much of Claire but we have to read the other characters’ fucking stories that bored me to death. Like are they all relevant? No and a lot of them don’t contribute to the plot.
At the end, I became even more pissed off that Claire uses his traumatic past to “heal” him or in other words cure him by physically assaulting him and in turn he assaults her. WTF? And yes, they have sex even though Claire clearly says “NO” and these were his words “I mean to hear ye groan…moan and sob even though you dinna wish to…scream with the wanting and at last to cry out in my arms, and I shall know that I’ve served ye well.” Aww how fucking romantic. Not.
This book should’ve come with a trigger warning. Because you know rape victims and domestic abuse victims are real and I can imagine how they would feel if they read an obviously abusive relationship as a romance.
Even though I love the language and the core plot of a woman time traveling back in time and trying to find her way back, I hate Outlander as a whole and I hope that the TV show would alter the nature of Claire and Jamie’s relationship. Otherwise I would no longer be a fan. I don’t plan to read the other books because the first is too triggering.
I hope I would never have to read a relationship (that’s been praised and portrayed as romantic) that’s actually abusive again. And if you think that Outlander is a feminist book, read and think again.