By Sorrow's River (Berrybender Narratives Series #3)

By Sorrow's River (Berrybender Narratives Series #3)

4.3 15
by Larry McMurtry
     
 

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In this tale of high-spirited and terrifying adventure, set against the background of the West that Larry McMurtry has made his own, By Sorrow’s River is 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,

Overview

In this tale of high-spirited and terrifying adventure, set against the background of the West that Larry McMurtry has made his own, By Sorrow’s River is 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. By Sorrow’s River continues 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. They meet up with a vast array of characters from the history of the West: Kit Carson, the famous scout; Le Partezon, the fearsome Sioux war chief; two aristocratic Frenchmen whose eccentric aim is to cross the Great Plains by hot air balloon; a party of slavers; 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, and is at the center of this powerful and ambitious novel of the West.

Editorial Reviews

Howard Frank Mosher
From the Missouri Breaks to the Rocky Mountains, and the Canadian border to Mexico, no novelist since Wallace Stegner has written as well about the American West as Larry McMurtry. By Sorrow's River, volume three of McMurtry's Berrybender Narratives, is no exception. It's lively, funny, historically illuminating and, best of all, full of unforgettable individualists, from an irascible English big-game hunter, Lord Berrybender himself, to his headstrong and beautiful daughter, Tasmin.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Molina keeps the bar raised high with his latest performance of McMurtry's third Berrybender Narrative. As with his readings of the previous two volumes, Sin Killer and The Wandering Hill, Molina creates richly nuanced voices for the many characters in this Wild West tale, from the energetic and innocent young guide Kit Carson to the comically selfish old Lord Berrybender, whose pursuit of drink, fornication and wildlife to shoot is what has brought his aristocratic, idiosyncratic and self-centered British clan to the wild and unforgiving Great Plains. This installment revolves around Berrybender's eldest daughter, Tasmin. Having married and mothered a child with the stoic and sometimes brutal frontiersman Jim Snow, also known as the Sin Killer, Tasmin's heart is now drawn to their quiet and emotionally distant guide, Pomp Charbonneau. Though the story seems to lose some of its steam as it explores the nuances of Tasmin's torn-between-two-lovers quandary, Molina's pace never slows. Even when he is not breathing life into a character, his role as narrator is played with such earnest urgency that it keeps the momentum high and the listener wanting more. Simultaneous release with the S&S hardcover (Forecasts, Aug. 25, 2003). (Nov.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
One tends to think that the Great Plains of the 1830s was empty, but the wandering Berrybenders manage to meet just about everyone who was anyone at the time. This third of a four-part series suffers because there is no beginning and no end-the action is much the same as in the previous installments. Lord Berrybender, the one-legged English aristocrat, is still alive and still hunting and still randy, although his mistress's threat to tear his throat out subdues him somewhat. The old man is traveling south toward Santa Fe with his four daughters and his moronic servants, a bunch of Indians, and the ever-faithful mountain men when the group is joined by a pair of hapless European journalists in a hot-air balloon. What could have been a rather exciting event deflates quickly into the same old tragicomedy that hallmarks these works. The listener will be grateful that Alfred Molina gives his usual dazzling performance and that the pacing is good. Recommended for public libraries where the other volumes have circulated.-Barbara Perkins, formerly with Irving P.L., TX Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Third in the brutal and amusing saga of the dissolute Lord Berrybender and his lusty brood in the great American West (Sin Killer, 2002, etc.). Readers who have not been put off by McMurtry’s over-the-top (much scalping, butchering, piercing, dismemberment and spur-of-the-moment sex) take on the unsettled American frontier will be happy to follow the Berrybenders, whose numbers stay roughly constant as births in the bush balance deaths by all sorts of brutalities, as they take a big left turn from the undeveloped northern plains to head for purported comforts of Santa Fe. Berrybender, whose taste for big-game hunting seems unaffected by the loss of numerous limbs and digits, has returned his attentions to his erstwhile mistress, the distinguished cellist Venetia "Vicky" Kennet. Lady Tasmin, Berrybender’s beautiful eldest daughter, irritated by the constant disappearances of her free-range frontiersman husband Jim "Sin Killer" Snow, is now focusing her formidable energies on Pomp Charbonneau, diffident son of trapper Toussaint Charbonneau and Sacagawea (yes, that Sacagawea). There’s a liaison, but an unsatisfactory one: Pomp, although he doesn’t disappear like Jim, is nowhere near as ready to, as Tasmin delicately puts it, rut whenever Tasmin is in the mood. Into the mix float a pair of European balloon-equipped journalists on assignment and their factotum, still bleeding from the midnight loss of an ear to the Ear Taker. Numerous Indians lurk in the neighborhood, but their numbers have been suddenly and devastatingly reduced by smallpox. Indeed, the great Sioux warrior known as the Partezon, whose maraudings nearly meant the end of the saga, correctly sees aviation and the plague as theend of the way for his people and heads for the Black Hills to die. Santa Fe lies on the other side of a seemingly endless desert, but the plucky Brits and their wild American assistants walk on. The Berrybenders may be de trop, but the scenery continues to be worth the trip. Agent: Andrew Wylie
From the Publisher
"In this tale of the exploration, and exploitation, of the West, McMurtry is telling us something about our checkered past — and perhaps about our uncertain present."
People

"From the Missouri Breaks to the Rocky Mountains, and the Canadian border to Mexico, no novelist since Wallace Stegner has written as well about the American West as Larry McMurtry. By Sorrow's River is no exception. It's lively, funny, historically illuminating and, best of all, full of unforgettable individualists."
The Washington Post Book World

"By Sorrow's River is a brilliant combination of adventure and plainspoken storytelling with a bittersweet love story and a richly imagined long-gone America."
The Seattle Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781451607703
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
06/01/2010
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
67,321
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"In this tale of the exploration, and exploitation, of the West, McMurtry is telling us something about our checkered past — and perhaps about our uncertain present."

People

"From the Missouri Breaks to the Rocky Mountains, and the Canadian border to Mexico, no novelist since Wallace Stegner has written as well about the American West as Larry McMurtry. By Sorrow's River is no exception. It's lively, funny, historically illuminating and, best of all, full of unforgettable individualists."

The Washington Post Book World

"By Sorrow's River is a brilliant combination of adventure and plainspoken storytelling with a bittersweet love story and a richly imagined long-gone America."

The Seattle Times

Meet the Author

Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays. He lives in Archer City, Texas.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Archer City, Texas
Date of Birth:
June 3, 1936
Place of Birth:
Wichita Falls, Texas
Education:
B.A., North Texas State University, 1958; M.A., Rice University, 1960. Also studied at Stanford University.

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By Sorrow's River (Berrybender Narratives Series #3) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Somewhere along the line Larry McMurtry has grasped an important concept: that we can try to be the best, but in the end we can only be the most. In Lonesome Dove, McMurtry found a voice that he and his audience found enthralling. Since then, through the sequels and prequels to L.D. and the well-written but misguided lapses into modern domesticity, he has developed a unique style his readers crave, and each of the Berrybender narratives reflects more... more interesting characters, more shocking hardships and tortures, more self-reproachment, more vexation, more willingness to play with historical characters... 'By Sorrow's River' is McMurtry at his most McMurtry, so far at least, and I can't wait to see if there's anything left.
LisasGeode More than 1 year ago
Tasmin Berrybender, the daughter of Lord Berrybender, wife of Jim Snow aka Sin Killer, feisty, independent, sharp-tongued, and emotional, takes the forefront of this, the third of four Berrybender tales. As in many of McMurtry’s westerns and the previous two Berrybenders (Sin Killer and The Wandering Hill), the cast of characters is wildly and frequently amusingly creative. Joining Tasmin, her father, and Jim Snow are quirky folks across the spectrum, Indians (Greasy Lake, High Shoulders, The Partezan, Little Onion, and Ear Taker among others), frontiersmen drawn from history (Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, Jean (Pomp) Charbonneau), Tasmin’s sisters, and those who serve the Berrybenders or are in their traveling party. That sounds like many, but keeping them straight is no problem since they are all written so uniquely. The story continues the saga of the Berrybender family’s journey into the American west when it was unpopulated and untamed. The travelers have many adventures, some harrowing in terms of weather or adversaries, some frequently comical and heartening, such as the relationships of various couples, including more than a few references to intimacy using a variety of proper and idiomatic references to it, and more than one relationship which crosses class or ethnic lines. There is the oddball appearance of two famed European journalists traveling by hot-air balloon. Altogether, this makes for a most enjoyable trip, with setting-appropriate violence to balance all the funny characters, interchanges, and events. I look forward to book four, Folly and Glory, soon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This third part of the Berrybender series continues to satisfy. (Watch out for the spoiler in the Critics Review on this page, though)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked it. Hope more to come.
dlone More than 1 year ago
As a work of fiction By Sorrow's River is as entertaining as most of Mcmurtry's work. And though I have no problem  with an author taking liberties to fill in the blanks, so to speak, when attempting to offer dialogue and detail to a historical figure, it's beyond me why Mcmurtry seems to feel the need to include historical figures in his work that he then fictionalizes to an extent to disregard and completely contradict the well documented history of a that character. Why not just create his own imagined characters? Is it his grand statement on mythologized history and our Western myth in particular? Ok, grant him that license, but consider that rather than mythologizing an event Mcmurtry is actually disregarding it completely and creating a whole new fiction. One example is the death of Pomp Charbonneau which Mcmurtry details as resulting from the hand of a disgruntled  Mexican  army captain. Charbonneau actually died much later in life from pneumonia. Why the complete rewrite of history? I love Mcmurtry's work  but instead of seeing his treatment of history as a great artistic approach and statement and instead regard it as a pointless excercise that only serves to offer Mcmurtry pre made characters with historic fame to better attact readers.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
do not eat while you listen to these books they will ruin any appetite