Cover image for The Indian lover
The Indian lover
Murphy, Garth.
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Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2002]

Physical Description:
439 pages ; 25 cm
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With a sweeping sense of history and landscape that contributed to making Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove a classic, and the precise sense of character and passion that made Cold Mountain so successful, Garth Murphy has written a brilliant saga about California in its last days as part of Mexico, and about the lives of those caught up in this moment of historical high drama. Peopled with a sumptuous cast of characters, both real and fictional -- Indians fighting for their survival against the Mexicans and the coming Americans; Hispanics desperate to hold on to the vast tracts of land they have usurped from the missionaries and the Indians; vibrant women determined to assert themselves in a man's world; adventurers, soldiers, scoundrels and heroes -- The Indian Lover tells a major story in the history of our nation, a clash of three cultures that has never been fully explored in fiction, and does it with drama, dazzling storytelling, and a scrupulous sense of reality. The Indian Lover opens in 1844 with the arrival of William Marshall, a penniless young American seaman, sailing down the coast of California aboard the whaler Hopewell. Enchanted by all he sees, Bill jumps ship in San Diego and falls in love with the mayor's elegant daughter, Lugarda. Thwarted in his bid to marry Lugarda and rejected by the Mexicans, Bill and his cultured Indian companion, Pablo, journey north to seek shelter in the crumbling grandeur of Mission San Luis Rey, Pablo's childhood home. But there is no going back, for either of them, and Pablo leads Bill farther and farther into the wilderness, to the native town of Cupa, where they take up life with the local tribe. Pablo and Billsettle into Indian society: Pablo dancing with the warriors, plotting against the wrongs done to him and his people by the Mexicans; Bill, innocent and naive, pining for Lugarda, learning the native ways, helping them to cope with the arriving Americans, and sliding into love with Falling Star, the beautiful daughter of the chief. Their love blooms, and Bill becomes dangerously involved in his adopted tribe's struggles, never imagining the eventual cost of his stubborn but divided loyalties and of the enemies he is making. Garth Murphy has crafted a novel of immense breadth, at once a great love story and an extraordinary unsung chapter of American history. The Indian Lover shouts out with truth: the growl of a grizzly, the sing of an arrow, the lover's cry, the toll of a mission bell, the crack of the lash on bent back, the rattlesnake's rattle, the sizzle of white-hot steel on living flesh, the roar of the mob, the silent struggle, the splash of falling tears on bare breast. Overflowing with affection, delight, wit, and insight, The Indian Lover captures the heart and imagination with timeless prose and holds them captive to the thrilling end.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In a slow-building but ultimately richly panoramic story, first-novelist Murphy writes about California in the 1840s, its last days as part of Spain and Mexico. Idealistic New England whaler Bill Marshall is lured to California, where he is determined to make his fortune and find a beautiful Mexican senorita to marry. In San Diego, he becomes enamored of Lugarda Osuna, a flirtatious beauty who rejects him but continues to hold sway over his imagination for years to come. His Indian friend Pablo persuades him to join a native tribe, who provide him with the great comfort and satisfaction of their communal way of life and among whom he finds a wonderful wife. As tensions break out among landowners, Bill must decide whose side he will take in what is certain to be a bloody conflict. Rich in characterizationfather-in-law and lively wife are standouts--this is an exhilarating adventure story that also imparts a full-bodied picture of a long-vanished way of life and a little-known historic conflict. --Joanne Wilkinson

Publisher's Weekly Review

This sprawling, romantic debut novel by a native Californian historian/songwriter spans the years 1845 to 1851-the final days of California under the rule of Spain and Mexico-and follows the fortunes of a young Cupa Indian rancher and a starry-eyed American pioneer. Eighteen-year-old Bill Marshall, the son of a Puritan farmer, has just spent four years at sea on a whaling vessel when he is seduced by the siren song of John Trumbull Warner, an entrepreneur who hopes to persuade Congress to build a railroad to California and promises those who travel west a land of milk and honey. Bill persuades Warner's friend Pablo Verdi, a Franciscan-educated young Indian ranch-owner Warner brought East with him, to make the return trip on a whaler. They sign two-year contracts and plan to jump ship together when they make it to San Diego. The first night ashore, Bill falls in love with the mayor's daughter, who is already promised to the son of the ex-governor of California. Pablo, too, finds his plans thwarted-in his two-year absence from the territory, his ranch has been stolen by the present governor. Together they travel north on the Camino Real, heading for Pablo's tribal lands in the shadow of Mt. Palomar. Finally resigned that he cannot have the mayor's daughter, Bill marries the daughter of the local chief. His fate is then bound up with that of the Cupa as they are buffeted between U.S. and Mexican forces and overrun by the gold rush. At times a bit overburdened by detail and repetition, the narrative offers a vivid picture of the early years of pioneer life on the westernmost edge of the continent. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

At the heart of this debut are two historical figures Fr. Antonio Peyri, who founded the San Luis Rey Mission in California, and Bill Marshall, who jumps ship with an Indian companion and joins the local tribe. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.