Synopses & Reviews
In andlt;Iandgt;The Wandering Hill,andlt;/Iandgt; Larry McMurtry continues the story of Tasmin Berrybender and her family in the still unexplored Wild West of the 1830s, at the point in time when the Mountain Men and trappers like Jim Bridger and Kit Carson (both lively characters in the book), though still alive, are already legendary figures, when the journey of Lewis and Clark is still a living memory, while the painter George Catlin is at work capturing the Mandan tribes just before they are eliminated by the incursion of the white man and smallpox, and when the clash between the powerful Indian tribes of the Missouri and the encroaching white Americans is about to turn into full-blown tragedy. andlt;BRandgt; Amidst all this, the Berrybender family -- English, eccentric, wealthy, and fiercely out of place -- continues its journey of exploration, although beset by difficulties, tragedies, the desertion of trusted servants, and the increasing hardships of day-to-day survival in a land where nothing can be taken for granted. andlt;BRandgt; Abandoning their luxurious steamer, which is stuck in the ice near the Knife River, they make their way overland to the confluence of the Missouri and the Yellowstone, to spend the winter in conditions of siege at the trading post of Pierre Boisdeffre, right smack in what is, from their point of view, the middle of nowhere. By now, Tasmin is a married woman, or as good as, and about to be a mother, living with the elusive young mountain man Jim Snow (The Sin Killer), and not only going to have his child, but to discover that he has a whole other Indian family he hasn't told her about. andlt;BRandgt; On his part, Jim is about to discover that in taking the outspoken, tough-minded, stubbornly practical young aristocratic woman into his teepee he has bitten off more than he can chew -- Tasmin doesn't hesitate to answer back, use the name of the Lord in vain, and strike out, though she is taken aback when the quiet Jim actually strikes her. andlt;BRandgt; Still, theirs is a great love affair, lived out in conditions of great risk, and dominates this volume of Larry McMurtry's Berrybender Narratives, in which Tasmin gradually takes center stage as her father loses his strength and powers of concentration, and her family goes to pieces stranded in the hostile wilderness, surrounded by interesting savages with ideas of their own and mountain men who are all of the "strong, silent type" of later Western legend, and hardly less savage than the Indians. andlt;BRandgt; From the murder of the iced-in steamship's crew to the appearance of the Partezon, a particularly blood-thirsty Sioux warrior with a band of over two hundred followers (the Partezon thoughtfully buries one of Lord Berrybender's servants alive in a gutted buffalo, ordering his feet and hands to be chopped off so he will fit into the body cavity, to see if the man can get out), andlt;Iandgt;The Wandering Hillandlt;/Iandgt; (which refers to a powerful and threatening legend in local Indian folklore) is at once literature on a grand scale and riveting entertainment by a master storyteller.
"[T]he most compelling and memorable of McMurtry's characters since...Lonesome Dove....The landscape is stunningly beautiful, but the beauty is often disrupted by spasmodic, gruesome violence....[A]n engrossing, exciting, and sometimes heart-rending saga of the American West that shows McMurtry at his best..." Jay Freeman, Booklist (Starred Review)
"McMurtry tosses in famous hunters and mountain men...plus a buffalo stampede, grizzly bears and an Indian ambush, but these are just props to support the soap-opera antics of the Berrybender clan. A few folks manage to get themselves killed, but there are plenty of annoying Englishmen left to people the next two volumes." Publishers Weekly
"[M]ore of an installment than a novel. Dramatic things happen...but they make little sense to those who haven't read [Sin Killer]....The Wandering Hill is full of rich incident and provocative people, but reading it by itself is like walking in on the middle of an unusually detailed, possibly wonderful shaggy dog story and then leaving before the punch line is delivered." David Willis McCullough, The New York Times Book Review
"Tongue still wedged firmly in cheek, McMurtry throws his supremely confident band of aristocrats up against the toughest challenges....Big issues masquerading as light fun. Highly entertaining." Kirkus Reviews
"The tension between chaos and order or, in Larry McMurtry's terms, between wilderness and civilization fuels his admirable and much-admired 1985 masterwork, Lonesome Dove. This same tension drives with equal force the first two books so far of...the Berrybender Narratives..." Robert Wilson, The Washington Post
"McMurtry's respect for the unspoiled wilderness he portrays so compellingly is clear. Yet except for eldest daugher Tasmin, the characters lack depth. There are so many secondary characters that the cast list is a necessity rather than a convenience....Although this novel can stand alone, the reader would be better served by reading Sin Killer first." Library Journal
Continuing the story of Tasmin Berrybender and her family as they contend with the Wild West of the 1830s, The Wandering Hill
conjures all the excitement and brutality of a singular era in American history.
The Berrybender clan rich, English, fiercely out of place continues its journey up the Missouri River. Tasmin, the unforgettable heroine of Sin Killer, is on the verge of motherhood and living with the elusive Jim Snow. Their exhilarating, deeply ambivalent love affair comprises the heart and soul of this mesmerizing story, as McMurtry charts the course of Tasmin's gradual ascendance to familial power, which comes in poignant counterpoint to her father's mental and physical demise. The Wandering Hill is a divinely human comedy and a contemporary masterpiece as big as the West itself.
Simply irresistible storytelling, rich and satisfying.
About the Author
Larry McMurtry, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (Lonesome Dove), among other awards, is the author of twenty-five novels, two collections of essays, three memoirs, and more than thirty screenplays, and the editor of an anthology of modern Western fiction. His reputation as a critically acclaimed and bestselling author is unequaled.