Mon, 06 Apr 2020
EVERY now and then I read a book that is out of my comfort zone and either give up on it straightaway or get hooked.
Lonesome Dove is a western – not my thing at all; it won the Pullitzer Prize in 1985 – so must have good credentials; was serialised for television and starred Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall – I had no idea; and at 848 pages is not for the faint-hearted – quite a challenge in fact.
But my goodness, how glad I was that I persevered with this one.
Once you get past the first section, which introduces us to the main characters, and the crew set off on their perilous journey from the Lonesome Dove ranch in Texas, to Montana, it really takes off.
McMurtry not only manages to create memorable and believable characters, he also paints a picture of the perilous times and the vast uninhabited landscapes of central America.
Anything can happen – and it does. The story of Gus McCrae and Woodrow McCall, Jake Spoon and Lorena stays with you and the author is brutal in who he disposes of along the way. It is also very funny, the supporting characters are eccentric and the story arc takes you on just as perilous a journey as that undertaken by the cowboys depicted in this book.
And yes, there are Indians, one particularly nasty piece of work – some scenes still haunt me long after I read the last page. But the cowboys can be just as brutal and every day is a fight for survival for everyone.
Harsh, brave and by turns heartbreaking, this is a breath-taking read.