Outlander is a historical fantasy novel by Diana Gabaldon, first published in 1991. Initially set around the Second World War, it focuses on nurse Claire Beauchamp, who travels through time to 18th-century Scotland. There she finds adventure and romance with the dashing Jamie Fraser.
In 1946, after working apart during the Second World War, former British Army nurse Claire Randall and her husband Frank Randall, a history professor, go on a second honeymoon to Inverness, Scotland. Frank conducts research into his family history, and Claire goes plant-gathering near standing stones on the hill of Craigh na Dun. Investigating a buzzing noise near the stones, she touches one and faints; upon waking, she encounters Frank’s ancestor, Captain Jack Randall. Before Captain Randall can attack her, he is knocked unconscious by a highlander who takes Claire to his clansmen. As the Scots inexpertly attend their injured comrade Jamie, Claire uses her medical skill to set Jamie’s dislocated shoulder. The men identify themselves as members of Clan MacKenzie, and Claire eventually concludes that she has traveled into the past. She represents herself as an English widow who is traveling to France to see her family. The Scots do not believe her and take her to Castle Leoch, where Claire searches for a way to return to her own time.
The highlanders of 1743 see Claire as a “Sassenach”, or “Outlander,” ignorant of Gaelic culture. Her medical skills eventually earn their respect, but the clan chieftain, Colum MacKenzie, suspects her of being an English spy. Colum sends her with his brother, Dougal, to collect rents. On the way, he also solicits donations for the Jacobites, overseen by Ned Gowan, a lawyer from Edinburgh who is working for the Clan.
When chance again brings her to his attention, Captain Randall tells Dougal to bring Claire to him for questioning. There is suspicion that she is perhaps an English spy. To keep Claire from Randall, Dougal has her wed Jamie, which makes her a Scottish citizen. Torn between her attachment to Jamie and the thought of Frank, Claire tries to return to Craigh na Dun. However, she is captured by Randall’s men, requiring Jamie to rescue her. Upon returning to Castle Leoch, Claire continues acting as the official healer and befriends Geillis Duncan, the wife of a local official who shares knowledge of medicine. Eventually, Claire and Geillis are charged with witchcraft while Jamie is away, but Jamie returns to save Claire. While imprisoned with Geillis, Claire learns that Geillis is part of the plot to restore King James to the Scottish throne and Dougal and that she is also pregnant with his child. Just before their escape, Claire realizes that Geillis is, like herself, from the future when she sees a smallpox vaccine scar on her arm. Geillis also sees Claire’s scar.
Claire tells Jamie her real story, and he takes her to Craigh na Dun. When he offers her the chance to stay or go, she decides to stay. Jamie takes her to his home of Lallybroch, where they meet Jamie’s sister Jenny and her husband, Ian. Though Jamie is still a fugitive from the British, he reclaims his position as Laird of Lallybroch, until one of his tenants betrays him. He is taken to Wentworth Prison. Claire and the MacKenzie clansmen attempt to rescue him, but they fail, and Claire is captured by Randall, who threatens to have her raped. Jamie offers himself in Claire’s place, and Randall frees Claire into the woods. Claire tells Randall that she is a witch and tells him the exact day of his death, which she knows from Frank’s family history. After that, Claire is befriended by Sir Marcus MacRannoch, a former suitor of Jamie’s mother. While MacRannoch’s men distract Wentworth’s guards, the clansmen drive a herd of cattle through the underground halls, trampling a man. They rescue Jamie, who has been assaulted physically and sexually by Randall and take him to MacRannoch’s stronghold, where Claire tends Jamie’s wounds. As soon as Jamie is able, they and Jamie’s godfather, Murtagh, escape to Saint Anne de Beaupre’s monastery in France, where another of Jamie’s uncles is the abbot. As she and Jamie emerge from a sacred hot spring under the Abbey, Claire reveals that she is pregnant.