My friend East Texas Red recommended Larry McMurtry’s 1985 novel, Lonesome Dove to me, and mailed me his copy. I just finished it this evening. It’s a beast of a book, 842 pages, but all written in very readable prose. At some point while reading the novel I learned it is one of a group of 4 novels, which I guess can best be called Westerns. I also learned there was a television mini-series based on this book, of which I know nothing.
Lonesome Dove is an historical novel, a frontier epic, and from that standpoint, it’s very interesting to catch the flavour of a difficult cattle drive from Texas to Montana, to catch a whiff of cowboy life. I enjoyed reading it, but although the depiction of the drive rang true, the human relationship stories driving the novel seemed somewhat melodramatic.
I found it difficult to understand why these guys started their cattle drive in the first place. I guess it was as much a big romantic adventure as anything else. The characters were pretty interesting. Some were far more developed than others, but maybe that’s to be expected.
Some severe editing would have helped Lonesome Dove, in my opinion, but in reading some reviews about it (which seem to all heap praise on the book), I didn’t once see that opinion shared.
I read a good chunk of this novel in a screened shelter in a campground near Massey Ontario in the rain. This book was perfect for the situation. I wasn’t for instance, going to finish it in one sitting and wish I had brought a second novel. It moved along at a pretty good pace, and the story and characters were engaging enough to keep me going. I think I’ve had my fill of this author, though, and I’ll leave the remaining books in the series to other readers.