>> Friday, December 3, 2010
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Western
Publication Date: 1985
Source: Purchased ebook
The Short Version:
An epic cattle drive from south Texas to Montana, but so very much more.
Why I Read It:
I’ve sort of wanted to maybe sometime read this book for ages and when a readalong with a pace of about 100 pages a week came along I decided to finally take the plunge.
The central story is of two former Texas Rangers who decide to drive a herd of cattle from their little town of Lonesome Dove in the south of Texas to Montana in order to start a ranch in what may be the last untouched frontier in the country.
But oh, the book is so much more than that.
Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call have been friends, co-workers and business partners for thirty years. They’ve got a small group of men who work for them and the group is pretty much family for all of them. When Jake Spoon (another former Ranger) shows up, he’s on the run after accidentally killing a man in Arkansas. His tales of the beauty of mainly unsettled Montana pique Call’s interest and before long their Hat Creek Cattle Company is hiring more men and heading north with a herd of cattle.
Along with the story of the cattle drive are several additional plot lines. Lorena is the local prostitute who just wants to get out of Lonesome Dove and to San Francisco and when Jake Spoon says he’ll take her there, she finds herself trailing along with the cattle drive. July Johnson is a young idealistic sheriff from Arkansas who is chasing Jake because of the man he killed in Little Rock. July’s unhappy wife is searching for her own path to happiness which may or may not include her husband and child. Clara Allen (Gus McCrae’s former love) is now in Nebraska running a horse ranch with her husband.
All of these stories progress individually and intertwined as this magnificent story unfolds.
Why, oh why did I wait so long to read this book? Now, I can’t wait for The Hubster to read it because I have no doubt he’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
If you have avoided this book because you don’t like “westerns” toss that thought right out of your head. This book is an epic historical fiction story of a time and place that hasn’t existed for a long time. It captured me fairly quickly and even though there were a couple of points where I was ready to move along before the author was, it was truly a wonderful experience to read. It’s part adventure, part love story, part western, part heroic myth, part coming of age story and both funnier and sadder than I’d ever anticipated.
There are so many great characters in this book. Both the heroes and the villains are wonderfully written and there are a few who land in both of those categories. The women characters are obviously limited by the real roles of women in the American west at the time of the story. Yes there is the good hearted prostitute, the outlaw, the naïve young boy, the rancher’s wife, as well as the good and bad among both the Indians and the White men.
Gus and Call are like an old married couple. After being friends and partners for thirty years it fits and feels genuine. Call is quiet and a loner, but Gus is quick witted and cares deeply for those he loves. Many of the supporting characters are just wonderfully written and will stick around in my brain and my heart for a long time.
If you like sweeping historical fiction with a bit of danger and adventure as well as a bit of fun, then don’t be intimidated by the size of this book. It’s totally worth the time. Yes, there are some brutal parts, but life on the frontier was brutal at times. There are also parts that are incredibly beautiful, tender and heartwarming too.
Just read it. Trust me on this.