The Barnes & Noble Review
The second novel in Larry McMurtry's spirited and lively Berrybender series is packed with the the same blazing humor and satire as as its predecessor, Sin Killer. But The Wandering Hill also establishes a more thoughtful ambiance as the aristocratic Berrybender family perseveres on its quest through 1830s frontier America.
Trapped at a trading post by awful weather during a devastating winter, the contentious brood must contend with Indian attacks, a buffalo stampede, and boorish mountain men -- as well as one another. Raucous and playful, this installment in the saga is a highly amusing read populated with colorful, unforgettable characters -- a perfect blend of adventure, whimsy, and charismatic folktale. McMurtry's shrewd and astute narrative is filled with lissome prose, keen authenticity, and the kind of droll wit that will keep you chuckling nonstop. Tom Piccirilli
McMurtry certainly has the talent to write a captivating tale of the early wild, wild West.
The New York Times
Action-packed set pieces appear at irregular intervals throughout the novel: Indian raids, a buffalo stampede, an accident-filled hunting trip. Sometimes they are comic turns (like the aborted ''escape'' of Lord Berrybender's Spanish gunsmith and Italian carriage maker, both broadly drawn Mediterranean types), but more often they are serious and dramatic. The eerie account of an Indian attack in dense fog is the artistic high point of the book. — David Willis McCullough
The Washington Post
"Chaos is the rule of nature," Henry Adams once wrote; "order is the dream of man." 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 a planned four-book cycle he calls the Berrybender Narratives, which follows an aristocratic British family and its party as it tours, and then simply tries to survive, the far-from-civilized American West of the years 1832-36. — Robert Wilson
New York Times Book Review
Exquisite descriptions....Simply irresistible storytelling, rich and satisfying.
Fans of Molina's reading of Sin Killer, the first volume in McMurtry's over-the-top Berrybender Narratives, will be pleased to find that he has lent his considerable talents to this second volume. Again, the marriage of McMurty's capable storytelling and Molina's dramatic reading gifts create a sum that is greater than its parts. The Berrybenders are a noble English family bent on exploring the Wild West in the 1830s. Just as the West holds no sympathy for its inhabitants, so it is with the Berrybenders, whose lives are rife with dark wit and unexpected (and often strangely humorous) violence, as when Lord Berrybender, himself "whittled down" by a leg, seven toes and three fingers, pokes out his son Bobbety's eye with a carving fork. As with all their hardships-stampedes, murderous Indians, grizzly bears, etc.-the victim as well as his family take this in stride. "You've made Bobbety a Cyclops, Papa," says young Mary Berrybender, "only his one eye is not quite in the middle of his head as it should be in a proper Cyclops." Listening to Molina capture the comic subtleties of every character-from the shy young Kit Carson to the Berrybenders' pet parrot-is to experience the art of the audiobook at its very best. Simultaneous release with the Simon & Schuster hardcover (Forecasts, Mar. 31). (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
The eccentric Berrybender clan, along with a colorful entourage, continue to traverse the American frontier of 1830s Yellowstone when they are stopped in their tracks at a trading post by the onset of winter. The eldest daughter, Tasmin, is heavily pregnant by her exasperatingly enigmatic husband, Jim Snow, a.k.a. the Sin Killer, who is bent on eradicating sin in everyone but himself. Seemingly, their love is as passionate as their knock-down-drag-out fights. In the midst of fierce snowstorms, this obnoxious family must live in close quarters with a bevy of mountain men (actual historical characters) who watch bemusedly as babies are born, eyes are plucked out with forks, Indians attack, and the old lord descends into madness. McMurtry is at his rip-snorting best, and both of these productions are excellent. Henry Strozier, narrating for Recorded Books, is slower and more restrained than the dazzling Alfred Molina, whose ability to change his voice characterizations is so expert it can be distracting at times. Libraries cannot go wrong purchasing either program. In fact, the only caveat is the author's use of "clever" chapter titles that are repeated word for word in the opening paragraph, and, with 60 chapters, this is rather teeth-grating by the end. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Barbara A. Perkins, formerly with Irving P.L., TX Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Lord Berrybender and brood continue their western exploration, in this second in a four-part series (Sin Killer, 2002). Tongue still wedged firmly in cheek, McMurtry throws his supremely confident band of aristocrats up against the toughest challenges, including a buffalo stampede, hostile Indians, wretched weather, and bloody-minded mountain men. None is rougher than Lady Tasmin Berrybender's handsome husband Jim Snow, the gifted trapper and brutally fundamental Christian whose distaste for Tasmin's erudite and occasionally profane chatter leads him to paste her one in the kisser. Two actually, one to the temple and one to the mouth, her pregnancy notwithstanding. Leaving Tasmin to ponder the error of her ways and the mystery of his, Jim strikes out alone, to clear his head and give his ears a rest from the incessant prattling of the diminished but still large brood of aristos and their retainers. Their river transport having been crushed by the frozen Missouri and the crew having been hacked to pieces by angry natives, the Berrybenders have holed up for the winter at a trading post where time and pregnant bellies hang rather heavy. Tasmin, irritably sorting out her feelings for Jim, has the ardent attention of tongue-tied Kit Carson and the artistic attention of painter George Catlin, who has in mind an epic American allegorical tableau featuring Tasmin and her father's equally gravid ex-mistress Vicky. Meanwhile, the errant Jim Snow decides to reclaim his two Ute wives, who will show Tasmin the right and silent way to go about being a wife. Alas, the senior and more competent wife has died in his absence, but the teenaged number two proves to be a superb nanny after Tasmin is deliveredof a son, Montague. Will Jim warm to his heir? Will he deal with those pesky anger management issues? Will Tasmin learn to control her tongue? Will she come to terms with bigamy? Will there ever be a meeting of the minds between the overcultured Europeans and the oversimplifying Americans? Big issues masquerading as light fun. Highly entertaining. Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club alternate selection; Literary Guild featured alternate selection
From the Publisher
New York Times Book Review Exquisite descriptions....Simply irresistible storytelling, rich and satisfying.
Read an Excerpt
In The Wandering Hill, Larry McMurtry continues the story of Tasmin Berrybender and her family in the unexplored Wild West of the 1830s, at that point in time when Lewis and Clark are still a living memory, 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.
Amidst all this, the Berrybender family -- English, eccentric, wealthy, and fiercely out of place -- continues their journey of exploration, although beset by difficulties, tragedies, and the increasing hardships of day-to-day survival.
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. Tasmin is about to become a mother, living with the elusive young mountain man Jim Snow. Theirs is a great love affair, lived out in conditions of great risk.
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, The Wandering Hill is at once literature on a grand scale and riveting entertainment by a master storyteller.