This is a reluctant three stars. I spent most of this book bored or annoyed and sometimes I was downright angry. I would have put the book down at page 350, had the story not had some real redeeming qualities that made me want to stick with it until the end. This is truly a novel where the quality of the IDEA that it is based on vastly outstrips the author's writing capabilities. To give Diana Gabaldon credit, however, she does know her limits. As other reviewers have noted below, when faced with a situation that she might have trouble describing, she fades to black: leaving the reader to fill in the gaps.
This novel held a lot of promise as a work of science-fiction/fantasy/romance. A World War II veteran combat nurse, Claire Randall, nee Beauchamp, is on a belated honeymoon with her husband of eight years, Frank, when she stumbles through a timegate (marked, conveniently, by a stone henge) two-hundred years into the past, to 1743. She is taken into custody by a group of Scottish warriors, bringing a young clansman home, while raising money for 'Bonny Prince Charlie'. a strange scar or birthmark. Here the author does something that really blew me away: what the 18th century Highlanders recognize on Gheillis' as a "mark" of the devil, Claire Randall realizes is a small-pox vaccination scar. What an interesting theme or idea to develop further! What a cool way to explain superstitions about 'witches' through history! The author might have developed the idea further into a grand theory: that 'witches' were merely time-travelers who brought knowledge from the future in order to render 'magic' in the present: magic that wasn't really magic, but merely future knowledge put in practice? But, like the flirtation with descriptions of modern medicine practiced in the 18th century, Gabaldon merely flirts with this, and then flips back to a scene of Jamie and Claire making love.
I am probably expecting far too much from what is, at the end of the day, a pretty standard romance novel. I did like the novel enough to try the next in the series: [b:Dragonfly in Amber. I'll wait, though, until I'm in the mood for romance, and not science-fiction.