Genres: Historical Fiction, Western, Classic Page Count: 964
Author: Larry McMurtry
Infamous Texas rangers, Call and Gus, lived peacefully in the small town of Lonesome Dove, retired and in Gus’s case, carefree. Until one day, Jake Spoon, an old friend and fellow ranger, rode in town with the law of Arizona behind him and news of the uninhabited, prosperous Montana territory. Jake’s report of this cattle paradise grabs Call’s attention and he, Gus, Jake and his band of cowboys, known as The Hat Creek Outfit, along with a young beautiful woman set out across the United States for Montana.
The American Wilderness is ever defiant however, and their trek takes them through horrors inflicted on them by both men and nature. All the while, uncovering secrets of Call and Gus’s past, that they may not be strong enough to confront. Lonesome Dove is an intense story of humor, sadness, drama, commitment and love worthy of tears and laughter.
Yea, I know, I’ve not done a book review or any kind of post for a long while. Not because I’ve been especially busy or anything but because I decided to review a book that was almost a thousand pages long! I’m going to be honest, I didn’t realize it was that long until I’d already started it.
I don’t exactly regret reading it though! I haven’t absorbed so much emotion and historical information from a book in a long time! Hilarious humor, quirky wit, bitter sadness, moments of relief and regret, joy, loss, and love. It was a beautiful whirlwind told through amazingly rich characters!
The characters felt so real, each with sad and sometimes depressing backstories that added to their individual personalities. Most of them are men, so you can imagine the constant potty language, insults and talk of women I found in this book. It was for the most part, the charm of the story but it was constant and could be tedious five-hundred pages in, especially when the talk of women tended to be whores.
However, the characters could be a little stereotypical. Irish men love potatoes and digging potatoes, Mexicans love beans and sombreros. Some may find it insulting, I found it kind of humorous.
Most of the book, for a long while, seemed to revolve around Lorie, the whore, which meant constant references to sporting. Almost every man in the book (and believe me there were a lot) was madly in love with her. It got sort of annoying, but Lorie was an interesting character and her voice in the story made it tolerable.
I absolutely LOVE how characters were added into the story! It was so casual and felt real. As someone with a good-sized family, I could also appreciate the humor and the hardships in the large or small families told throughout the story. The back-stories could be long, but I found them interesting and entertaining. The arguments and conversations were also very realistic! I really enjoyed Call and Gus’s friendship and their constant bouts. It echoed how much work friendships can be and how even the most unlikely ones can be made.
Call, by the way, was an awesome character! I cannot tell you how many times I’d be reading this book and silently be cheering him on. If you read this book, you’ll know what I’m talking about. He could have his issues but that was part of the flavor of this story, no one was perfect.
I learned a lot about the life of a cowboy and life after the American Civil War. Recently, I was watching a movie about a family with horses and cattle and I realized I understood everything said from herding cattle, to how a horse should be properly approached from bits and pieces I learned from the book. It was pretty awesome to learn something and read an interesting story!
It was a little slow though. I have lots of patience with books, but I know that’s not the case for everyone. The start especially, took a very long time to ramp up. This is a book about traveling, and traveling can be boring.
Virtually, everything bad that you can imagine happening from Texas to Montana happens. The men in this book, protagonists or not, drink, gamble, steal and threaten to shoot each other constantly and, as I mentioned earlier, are always talking about whores. (the women weren’t much better)
I loved this story, but I’m not going to lie, it was very inappropriate. There was no avoiding the inappropriate parts. It was intertwined into the story and it was bad enough for me to, on three occasions, skip two or three paragraphs.
I liked the writing, the world building was excellent. I never expected to enjoy a western book, but I did. It was beautiful, powerful and overwhelming. However, because of the inappropriate content, and graphic violence, I’m listing this as NOT a Clean Book.
Romance: 10-10 (this book got to the ‘seriously?’ for me)
(1 for ‘hardly any’ and 10 for ‘seriously?’)
Constant mention of whores and being with whores: a bed makes noises from a whore’s room, clothes are taken off in a scene with a whore, (nothing described) a man is said to always try to look up a whore’s skirts, a whore doesn’t see a man watching her and lifts up her skirts in a scene to wipe something off her thigh.
References to sex and sexual talk: lots of instances where a man offers payment for sporting, the men talk of naked women and sporting, a bull ‘mounts’ cows and the cowboys comment on it, cleavage is described, Xavier’s past suggests he was with other men’s wives. The writer tries to be funny in many instances like referencing men’s private areas to vegetables but I found it unnecessary and uncomfortable. References to removing clothing and wanting to.
There are three very inappropriate scenes: one with a lonely woman that basically rapes a man. The scene is done in a way where (except for the very start) there is no touching described but you can still tell enough to know it’s a sex scene.
The second scene started with a whore grabbing a man by his area. As soon as I read this, I skipped the entire scene. I don’t read that sort of thing, nope, nope, nope. The third scene was with Clara who was washing her brain-dead husband and noticed his ‘stem of life’ raise and cried because she realized his body wanted a boy. This scene was small and quick.
Some of the scenes were no harm: Gus slept near Lorena and just held her to keep her from being afraid after she was rescued from a horrible ordeal. There are many instances where the men go nude to wash or cross a river without getting their clothes wet. Nothing is described but the color of underclothing and chest hair.
(1 for ‘hardly any’ and 10 for ‘constant cussing’.)
God’s name taken in vain in many different ways: ‘I ___’, ‘ ____ d*mn’, ‘by ____’, ‘good ___’, ‘___ almighty’, and ‘my ___’. There’s also ‘heaven be d*mned’.
Others like: ‘h*ll’, ‘b*tch’, ‘sh*t’, ‘d*mn’, and ‘b*stard.
Crude jokes and constant potty language that could be funny but sometimes too far. One such referred to a boy going for a cow because he couldn’t get a woman and jokes about Indians cutting off the men’s private areas .
Their are different words used for men’s areas in jokes like: balls, testicles, nuts, pod and pecker. Also tit and teat for women’s areas.
(1 for ‘hardly any’ and 10 for ‘graphic violence’.)
It’s a western book. There was lots of violence and threatening to shoot or kill people. Slapping, biting, shooting, stabbing, you name it!
Sad and horrible circumstances all throughout the book, many are just stories from the character’s pasts: centipede sting causes loss of limb, loved ones drowning, children without food, shoes and fathers that beat them, a boy being hung for something his father made him do, a man driving a wagon is shot and killed for his whiskey, a woman shoots herself for hate of life on the plains, a story of a black man being killed for being with a white woman, people accidentally being shot, a man killing his wife for bad behavior, and bears dragging people off, tales of people being hung.
Disturbingly graphic scenes of violence:
Kiowa Indians are described graphically torturing animals and people. The Indians are a few times described eating animals raw and bloody.
The worst scene was horribly graphic and violent. The scene is escalated to when a Comanche Indian named Blue Duck steals away a young whore. He threatens to gut, cut out her tongue and carve her skin if she tries to escape and is said to have a necklace made of human fingers.
He takes her to a handful of Kiowa Indians and two white men who each are implied to rape her and beat her. (not described)
For his feelings, the Indians torture the man. (who was already shot and in pain) They stripped him of his clothing, scalped and then castrated him. Blood was described. This scene was very harsh and I probably made it sound better than it really was.
Another scene describes a man trying to steal another man’s horse. This scene was very violent as the thief fought for the horse and other men got involved and defended the owner and his friend. Blood was described heavily as heads were banged against objects and weapons were used.
A man tries to rape a pregnant woman but she holds him off by kicking and scratching. The man is said to rub his bloody hands (from skinning an animal) over the woman’s bosom and pull off half her clothing. Another man rescues her and grabs the man, beating him to a pulp. ( One of the characters, a young teen girl, was also raped and abused but it’s only known by a struggle heard from a house.)
People who aren’t right in the head, desecrate dead corpses by burning them and hanging them.
Blood described in various scenes:
People are shot constantly in this book, and yes, blood and gore is described graphically in the scenery.
Three protagonists are killed in one scene, two of which were children. This scene made me want to cry! It was so sad. How they were killed is told in later detailed by those who stumble on their bodies: the two kids heads were smashed and the deputy was knifed and castrated.
Enemies shoot at protagonists and they shoot back in defense. Men get in brawls from insults that are usually fast resolved but it happens a lot. All-in-all, it was a pretty violent book.
Drinking, drugs or smoking: 8-10
(1 for ‘hardly any’ and 10 ‘for seriously’
Most of the characters are cowboys and cowboys are known to drink. These were no different. There are many many scenes where the cowboys are drunk and acting foolish. Protagonists or not, most of the characters drank themselves drunk at some point in the story.
A man tries to get a whore drunk. Blue Duck gets men drunk so they’ll lose in gambling. Young men purposely get themselves drunk for experience with whores. A man gets horribly drunk, falls out of a wagon and freezes to death.
Smoking, Spitting tobacco, (Many characters do this) and whore uses an intoxicating drug called ‘powder’.
(If you read this book, and run into the Latin Gus writes on his sign, and have no idea what it means like I did, I got you covered:)
Vauvum Vivendo Varia Fit
A grape changes color when it sees another grape. Go figure!
No Homosexuals or mention