Cover image for By sorrow's river : a novel
By sorrow's river : a novel
McMurtry, Larry.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, 2003.
Physical Description:
347 pages ; 25 cm.
Format :


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In this tale of adventure, at once high-spirited and terrifying, set against the background of the West that Larry McMurtry has made his own,By Sorrow's Riveris an epic in its own right with an extraordinary young woman as its leading figure.At the heart of this third volume of his Western saga remains the beautiful and determined Tasmin Berrybender, now married to the "Sin Killer" and mother to their young son, Monty, who, although Tasmin intends him to be an English gentleman like his grandfather, is at the moment living the childhood of a savage.By Sorrow's Rivercontinues the Berrybender party's trail across the endless Great Plains of the West toward Santa Fe, where they intend, those who are lucky enough to survive the journey, to spend the winter. Along the way, Tasmin, whose husband, Jim Snow, has vanished off to scout ahead of them, falls in love with Pomp Charbonneau, only to see him killed by the ruthless commander of Spanish troops, while her father, Lord Berrybender, now reduced to limping along on one leg and a pair of crutches, increasingly makes a fool of himself by falling in love with his own mistress. They meet up with a vast cast of characters from the history of the West: Kit Carson, the famous scout; Le Partezon, the fearsome Sioux war chief; The Ear Taker, an Indian whose specialty is creeping up on people while they are asleep and slicing an ear off with a sharp knife; two aristocratic Frenchmen whose eccentric aim is to cross the Great Plains by hot air balloon; a party of slavers led by the cowardly but bloodthirsty Obregon; a band of raiding Pawnee; and many other astonishing characters who prove, once again, that the rolling, grassy plains are not, in fact, nearly as empty of life as they look. Most of what is there is dangerous and hostile, even when faced with Tasmin's remarkable, frosty sangfroid. She is one of the strongest and most interesting of Larry McMurtry's women characters, fairly resistant to shock, whether at bloodshed, the behavior of children, or sex, and at the center of this powerful and ambitious novel of the West.

Author Notes

Larry McMurtry, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, among other awards, is the author of twenty-four novels, two collections of essays, two memoirs, more than thirty screenplays, & an anthology of modern Western fiction. He lives in Archer City, Texas.

(Publisher Provided) Novelist Larry McMurtry was born June 3, 1936 in Wichita Falls, Texas. He received a B.A. from North Texas State University in 1958, an M.A. from Rice University in 1960, and attended Stanford University. He married Josephine Ballard in 1959, divorced in 1966, and had one son, folksinger James McMurtry.

Until the age of 22, McMurtry worked on his father's cattle ranch. When he was 25, he published his first novel, "Horseman, Pass By" (1961), which was turned into the Academy Award-winning movie Hud in 1962. "The Last Picture Show" (1966) was made into a screenplay with Peter Bogdanovich, and the 1971 movie was nominated for eight Oscars, including one for best screenplay adaptation. "Terms of Endearment" (1975) received little attention until the movie version won five Oscars, including Best Picture, in 1983.

McMurtry's novel "Lonesome Dove" (1985) won the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 and the Spur Award and was followed by two popular TV miniseries. The other titles in the Lonesome Dove Series are "Streets of Laredo" (1993), "Dead Man's Walk" (1995), and "Comanche Moon" (1997). The other books in his Last Picture Show Trilogy are "Texasville" (1987) and "Duane's Depressed" (1999).

McMurtry suffered a heart attack in 1991 and had quadruple-bypass surgery. Following that, he suffered from severe depression and it was during this time he wrote "Streets of Laredo," a dark sequel to "Lonesome Dove." His companion Diana Ossana, helping to pull him out of his depression, collaborated with him on "Pretty Boy Floyd" (1994) and "Zeke and Ned" (1997). He co-won the Best Screenplay Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain in 2006. He made The New York Times Best Seller List with his title's Custer and The Last Kind Words Saloon.

McMurtry is considered one of the country's leading antiquarian book dealers.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

A party of Ute warriors placidly negotiates the price of trade goods with a group of mountain men whose encampment they had murderously raided the previous day. A pair of slightly absurd European travelers manages to escape menacing Sioux by inflating a hot-air balloon and flying over their stupefied foes. This is the third installment of the projected four-volume Berrybender saga, which tracks a British family and a motley assortment of comrades as they traipse across the trans-Mississippi West in the 1830s. As in the earlier novels, the focus of the narrative is Tasmin Berrybender and her strange (even to her) attachment to her husband, the rather primitive frontiersmanim Snow. As the Berrybenders move from South Pass toward Santa Fe, McMurtry relates numerous, seriocomic incidents like those above, revealing the West as a place where irony, vanity, and tragedy are inevitably intertwined. Tasmin andim are certainly wonderful literary creations; equally interesting and memorable are McMurtry's finely drawn portrayals of actual historical characters, includingit Carson,im Bridges, Charles Bent, and Pomp Charbonneau. Each plays his part in an exciting, humorous, but often heartbreaking story that unfolds across magnificent, dangerous, and often deadly landscapes. --Jay Freeman Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this third volume of McMurtry's Berrybender Narratives, Lord Berrybender and his obnoxious, sniveling brood are, surprisingly, still alive on the dangerous Great Plains of Wyoming and Colorado. The wry story of mountainman adventure and European stupidity, set in the 1830s, is just as wacky and gruesome as its predecessors, Sin Killer and The Wandering Hill. Lord Berrybender is a pompous, lecherous, drunken, one-legged English aristocrat on a hunting expedition in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. Surrounded by his four willful and opinionated daughters, inept servants and a haughty mistress, he is protected by an accompanying group of unwashed mountainmen and trappers. His eldest daughter, the vulgar and loudmouthed Tasmin, is married to Indian fighter Jim Snow, aka Sin Killer, and their marital relations are anything but blissful. In this installment, the hunting party slowly travels from its winter camp in the north, southward toward Santa Fe, on a journey filled with seduction, infidelity, short tempers, heat, thirst, Indian attacks and ever more lusty copulation. The sudden and unlikely arrival of two European journalists in a hot air balloon brings more tragic comedy to the prairie soap opera; other irritants include a smallpox epidemic, a mysterious Indian who cuts off the ears of sleeping white men and a murderously insane Mexican army captain. McMurtry's Europeans are all idiots, while the Indians and mountainmen, including Kit Carson, Tom Fitzpatrick and Hugh Glass, are portrayed as honorable men. The Berrybender clan is so annoying one wishes they would all be massacred by the Indians, but enough of them survive to ensure there will be plenty of Berrybenders to kill off in the next installment. One can only hope. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

As the Berrybenders make their way toward Santa Fe, Tasmin's husband (the "Sin Killer") conveniently scouts ahead, giving her the opportunity to fall in love with Pomp Charbonneau-who's promptly done in by the Spanish. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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