Monday, 6 February 2012

Book #14 Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Lonesome Dove

I would start by saying that Pulitzer Prize winner Lonesome Dove is a long book. It's over 900 pages. So, in reading this book that's quite a commitment for most people. But it is incredibly worth it.

A wild, wild west story of Cowboys and Indians, there is a lot to be said for the rich detail, involving storylines and strong characterisation.

Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call are retired Texas Rangers, they live on a small rundown ranch, cattle rustling and horse trading on the Mexican Border. When former colleague Jake Spoon reappears in their lives, wanted by the law, he permanently changes all their destinies by encouraging McCrae and Call to consider a move to Montana. A move which leads to the men taking the journey of their lives.

The other half of the story involves sheriff July Johnson who is on the trail of criminal Jake Spoon, and the novel also follows his journey to catch Spoon, suddenly derailed by the apparent disappearance of his wife. Both stories flow nicely, and eventually intertwine. It could be said that their intertwining proves overly coincidental, and it is a little, but it all feels fitting somehow.

Though this is a book about men, working men in groups, and the undemonstrative but deep friendships of men; the book has three women, all of whom are interesting and colourful and bring a different life to the story: Lorena a prostitute who dreams of a better life, Elmira a feckless wife and Clara hard working and straight forward. Their sections light up what can be long patches of journeying.

In addition the company kept by McCrae and Call are also interesting in their own way, fugitive Spoon, young Newt a question mark over his paternity, lovesick Dish, scout Deets and two homesick Irishmen fill this novel full of a sense of energy. They are genuinely interesting characters and it was fun to take their long journey with them. Particularly I think if you liked the film True Grit, you'll like this. 10/10  

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