Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
While I was compiling my list of American classics to read I thought that I should have at least one Western in there. Not being at all familiar with this genre I chose Lonesome Dove as its Pulitzer Prize winning credentials gave me some reassurance.
I have to admit that I almost rethought this when the novel arrived from Amazon and I then realised that Lonesome Dove is over 950 pages. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy to tackle a massive epic book over 950 pages under normal circumstances, but this was a genre I wasn’t familiar with or even overly interested in. But heck I will give almost anything a whirl and I did as part of a read-along hosted by My Friend Amy, reading a manageable ten chapters a week.
Having never read this genre before I was not sure what to expect. What I did get were good guys, bad guys, gun fights, harsh landscapes and the odd damsel in distress and I loved every bit of it.
The plot in essence are the adventures of the Hat Creek Cattle Company as they make their way from Texas to Montana driving their cattle. Of course the author has to keep the readers attention for 950+ pages so there are a huge array of characters all with interesting back-stories, an epic plot in which you find plenty of sub-plots and some twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes. I was certainly never bored.
The characters are likeable because they are depicted honestly rather than the clichés they could have been but what surprised me most about this novel was the humour. There are a lot of laugh out loud funny moments in this book and I found myself chuckling in quite a few places.
The ending did feel a little rushed, almost as if the author was in a hurry to finish the job and quickly round everything up but I can forgive him for the 40 or so pages at the end when the other 900+ ones were so brilliant.
I never thought I would enjoy this book as much as I did but I really loved it. As a result I be participating in the Western Read-a-long hosted by C.B.James in May. The read-along is easy, all you have to do is read one western book during the month of May and the details can be found here.
It just goes to show that its sometimes a very good idea to venture into a genre you are not at all familiar with and I'd urge anyone who hasn't to give the Western a whirl.
Posted by Jess