The Berrybender Narratives
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A sweeping four-part epic of the American West that could only come from the boundless skill and imagination of Pulitzer Prize– winning author Larry McMurtry.
Over a career that spans fifty years, Larry McMurtry has been celebrated as “one of America’s great storytellers” (The Wall Street Journal) and a writer who “stands among our best not only because of his uncanny ability to compress a cogent narrative arc but also because his eye for the moving detail is infallible” (Los Angeles Times). In The Berrybender Narratives, now published in a single volume for the first time, the author of Lonesome Dove delivers the unforgettable story of an idiosyncratic pioneer family and a truly unique view of the American West, reminding us again that his writing “has the power to clutch the heart and also to exhilarate” (The New Yorker).
In 1830, the Berrybender family—British, aristocratic, and fiercely out of place—abandons their home in England to embark on a journey through the American West just as the frontier is beginning to open up. Accompanied by a large and varied collection of retainers, Lord and Lady Berrybender intend to travel up the Missouri and settle in Texas, hoping to broaden the perspectives of their children, including Tasmin, a young woman of grit, beauty, and cunning. But when Tasmin’s fast-developing relationship with Jim Snow, a frontiersman and ferocious Indian fighter, begins to dictate the family’s course, they move further into the expansive and hostile wilderness and into the path of Indians, pioneers, mountain men, and explorers. As Lord Berrybender’s health falters, and the rest of the family goes to pieces around him, Tasmin finds herself taking command of their collective fate and is finally forced to decide where her future lies.
Full of real and fascinating characters, famous shoot-outs, adventure, humor, love, and loss, The Berrybender Narratives is an epic of the American West during its period of transformation, a landscape that nobody understands better than Larry McMurtry.
family pursue their usual quarrels. If you won’t take me to Santa Fe, then I’ll hire Monsieur Charbonneau to guide me—he’s quite experienced, I believe.” “Sharbo, that old fool! Why, it would be the end of you in a week!” Jim Snow said, his voice registering a high degree of indignation, though, fortunately, not religious indignation this time. “But he traveled with Lewis and Clark,” Tasmin pointed out. “I suppose he must know these prairies rather well.” “No!” Jim Snow said. “It was the
attend to than anything that might possibly involve women—a maddening look. “I guess I’ll stay out of your way next time you’re drunk,” he told her. “I bet Bonney stays out of your way, too. He claims he’s got a sore tooth.” Jim then raced off—once the hunters were gone, Tasmin went over and made a fine apology to Eulalie Bonneville. “I’m so sorry I struck you, Mr. Bonneville,” she said. “I fear I was very drunk.” “It is of no importance at all,” Eulalie said. “I too often strike people when
“They’re slavers, I expect. I know that big fellow on the black mule. That’s Obregon.” “You know him?” Pomp asked, surprised. “It’s Obregon,” Zeke repeated. “He came trading for slaves when the Pawnees had me. Didn’t want me, though. Wanted women, when he could get them. Or boys, if he couldn’t get women.” Tasmin’s mild apprehension turned to a chill of fear. Here was the threat that all the women had talked about when they were still safe on the steamer Rocky Mount: abduction, rape,
much that he must teach her about prairie ways—but the base, at least, was solid; the sweet ache in her body told her that. Dan Drew knew that the young couple wished him gone. Oh, they liked the breakfast he had brought them, but they wished him gone. They had just discovered each other—they wanted no one else. It was only the way of the world. The young lady was too absorbed in the love that was just beginning to really grasp her sister’s peril, or that of the Frenchwoman. With a smile, Dan
“But it’s me he’s married to, and I’m rather a more volatile animal! I won’t be taken for granted, not by Jimmy Snow or anyone else. He can’t just entertain me with a little conjugal sweat and assume I’ll be docile forever. Others are quite capable of working up similar sweats—wouldn’t a good husband know that?” Pomp gave a polite chuckle. “Jim, he’s different,” he said. “I expect he’ll walk you home himself, once it warms up a little.” “Why would the weather matter—cold doesn’t affect him,”