Naturally this is a very personal perspective but until Gabaldon came along my favourite of all time was Tolstoy's 'War and Peace'. I'm sure this must horrify those who cannot imagine comparing two such disparate pieces of literature. But quite simply I cannot put 'Outlander' down. Time and time again I find my mind wandering and wondering about what it was like in the early days of settlement in America. The subtle and sometimes not so subtle dichotmy between the 18th century and the late 1960s is fascinating, especially how Claire in her role as a healer deals with it. The honesty of admitting privately that in the 18th century these is absolutely nothing she can do to save a person's life and yet know that ca. 200 years on and it would be a no-brainer.
Unfamiliar as I am with the Celtic language I find some of the conversations and especially the witicisms pass me by - but we are getting there. It's pleasing to be challenged and treated as an intelligent reader. Gabaldon's understanding of the human condition, her empathy for her characters and her readers is sublime. The author is very skilled at conveying a sense of the excitement and fascination of what it was like to inhabit those woods at such a time as she portrays along with fine details of daily life. This takes time hence the multiple volumes but it reads anything but turgidly. In fact it is Gabaldon's ability to immerse the reader in the joy of the detail and yet become a 'page-turner' that is so unusual. I for one hope that 'Outlander' continues for my lifetime.