Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurty

lonesomedoveA love story, an adventure, and an epic of the frontier, Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize— winning classic, Lonesome Dove, the third book in the Lonesome Dove tetralogy, is the grandest novel ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America.

Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers. Richly authentic, beautifully written, always dramatic, Lonesome Dove is a book to make us laugh, weep, dream, and remember.

Find the book on Goodreads.

Take a look at the reviews of Lonesome Dove and you’ll quickly see a pattern emerge.  In almost every review you will see something along the lines of, “The first hundred pages were painful but the ratings don’t lie, so I persevered, and man, am I glad I did.”  Well, I’m here to tell you that while I didn’t hate the first hundred pages, you can only go on reading about the lack of shade and pros and cons of eating beans for so long.  And do you know what?  I’m glad I kept reading.

In the beginning you are introduced to the two major characters, Sergeant Call and his counter part (in every way) Augustus McRae.  They’re ex Texas Rangers who now spend their time keeping and droving cattle at the Hat Creek Outfit with a handful of other characters.  It took me a while to come to grips with all of the different characters, especially because they all range so wildly in age and mannerisms.  I thought I knew who someone was, then it would turn out if wasn’t him, but that other guy.  The confusion clears up the more you read and get to know the men.

But I’m not hear to talk about the men, even though I loved them for the most part and loved to hate one or two of them (Jake), I’m hear to talk about the women.  There are a handful of women in the series, certainly fewer than there are men, yes, but they are all such competent and willful characters that I couldn’t help but admire them.  From the outset I was rooting for Lorena; all she wants is to get to San Francisco and she will get there, damn it.  Then comes Ellie, and while I didn’t like her as much I certainly appreciated the lengths she would go to to get the life she wanted.  And finally, Clara.  Clara is, quite simply, her own person.  She does what needs to be done and isn’t afraid to ask for help when she needs it, and it is women like these that I feel are missing in a lot of books.

It’s another characters driven story and it holds nothing back.  People live, people are hanged, people are struck by giant hailstones and take refuge in the nearby river or are, you know, attacked by clouds of grasshoppers.  All in a day’s work for the lads of the Hat Creek Outfit.  Lonesome Dove is the first book that was published in the series, but is, rather confusingly, third chronologically.  No matter, I was reading it as a stand alone novel.  I’m now reconsidering that decision, especially in light of how Lonesome Dove ended.

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