I have finished reading the book brick known as Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty for a buddy read with some fellow Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club members, and boy do I feel blown away by this classic western. It has all the elements of a great story: rich setting, great cast of characters, tension and growth among the group members, a tinge of romance and more as the men route their cattle herd from Texas to Montana.
This book has the feel of an epic and vaguely reminds me of The Lord of the Rings. The group sets off for a long journey where they face numerous trials involving the settings and people they encounter along the way. They also develop a greater understanding of themselves as the battle their perils. I feel thankful I don’t live in this time period as it seems even the women faced their own struggles to have happiness and a sense of independence in this world. I most relate to the scenes on Clara’s homestead as they build a home and welcome travelers, even inviting a couple new people into the extended family. They too face death and heal from it and other disappointments, but they show how they can support each other. My favorite character Lorena might not survive without her friends to stick by her side and remind her she has a place and help she can offer. Augustus offers her a safe place on the journey, and Clara provides a safe place in the home she shares. Most the men, however, have to work together to keep each other safe from the elements so they can become the first herdsmen in Montana.
McMurty writes such vivid scenery and characters. Though western falls outside my normal reading realm considering the last one I read was just over ten years ago, I fully appreciate this book. The characters feel authentic, and their dynamics remind me those tensions exist in any setting. The border war comments they hear in Missouri about Kansas remind me of what they still say in Kansas City; I even remind people of that when they mistakenly say I hail from Kansas and I correct them to say Missouri (unfortunately now it seems I reside on the wrong side of the border in Kentucky, but that can change). These pages take you to another world while reminding you of the present. It certainly deserves its spot on The Great American Read.
I give this book 5 stars and recommend it to readers of all genres. I’m glad this group supported each other in tackling a large book outside their normal reading genres.