Larry McMurtry's four-volume series, The Berrybender Narratives, is like a cross between John Ford and Quentin Tarantino: a genre-bending Western farce that follows the misadventures and couplings of a sprawling English family and its hangers-on as it makes its roundabout way across the West in the 1830's...While McMurtry doesn't stint on frantic action, violence or seemingly round-the-clock gropings, Folly and Glory marks a somber and satisfying end to a long, rambunctious trip.Rodney Welch
This is the fourth and final volume in McMurtry's Berrybender Narratives (following By Sorrow's River), a frontier epic of lusty and bloody proportions, in which, fortunately, nearly everyone is killed off. Lord Berrybender, an arrogant and lecherous Englishman and his whining brood of daughters, their brats and servants have been arrested by Mexican authorities and are under house arrest in Santa Fe in the mid-1830s. Tensions between Mexicans and Americans run high as the dispute over Texas drifts toward war. When the Berrybender party is expelled from Santa Fe, the group is forced to march across the desert to Vera Cruz, escorted by inept Mexican soldiers. The grueling journey is filled with hardship and death as thirst, cholera and hostile Indians whittle the group by half. Meanwhile, Jim Snow, aka the Sin Killer, a famous mountain man, plans to rescue his white wife, Tasmin Berrybender, and her family somewhere along the desert route. Once the rescue is complete and the surviving Berrybenders are safely in Texas, Jim goes after the gang of slavers who murdered his son and his Indian wife (mountain men seem to have a lot of wives). Here McMurtry really shows why Jim is called the Sin Killer and why white men and Indians fear the mountain man who shrieks "the Word" and shows no mercy when he is riled up. Of the four books in the series, this is the bloodiest and most brutal, with rapes, torture, mutilation and death heaped upon the characters until grief and despair nearly consume them. Add the disaster at the Alamo and a passel of colorful Texas heroes to the enduring figures of mountain men Kit Carson and Tom Fitzpatrick, and this grisly frontier soap opera concludes with a bang. (May) Forecast: Reader opinions are mixed on the blackly comic Berrybender series, and McMurtry may have lost some readers along the way, but this strong wind-up should sell solidly. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The wonderful actor Alfred Molina reads what is mercifully the final installment of the four-part "Berrybender Narratives." At the close of By Sorrow's River, the increasingly disgusting Lord Berrybender, his irritatingly whiny daughters, and the rest of the entourage were under house arrest in Santa Fe. It is the mid-1830s, and tensions between the Mexicans and Americans are heating up as the dispute over Texas heads toward war. When the Berrybenders are expelled from Santa Fe and forced to cross the desert without food, their disasters multiply to the point that the listener will shudder from all the mutilations, rapes, tortures, starvation, and slow deaths from thirst. This epic is definitely not for the faint of heart, but it is always a pleasure to hear the words of one of our premier writers read by one of our premier actors. Recommended for public libraries.-Barbara Perkins, Sachse P.L., TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Lord Berrybender's epic four-year hunting trip through the unsettled West comes to a wistful close. Under comfortable house arrest in Santa Fe, McMurtry's large cast of peers, painters, trappers, priests, Indians, and the crop of infants who have replaced the many characters left dead on the deserts and by the many tributaries of the Missouri await rescue and relief. Everyone is edgy in this most remote reach of the rickety Mexican republic. Lady Tasmin, the improbable but appealing eldest daughter of the boozy earl is in black despair following the death of her reticent lover Pompey Charbonneau, son of Sacagawea. (Yes, that Sacagawea.) Were it not for the loving ministrations of Little Onion, Tasmin's sort-of-in-law, her husband's Indian wife, Tasmin's son Monty and the twins Petey and Petal would have no emotional home. Tasmin has no emotional room for anything. Not even her husband Jim when he returns. Her sister Buffum worries constantly about her Indian husband High Shoulders, who is on the Mexicans' most-wanted list. Tasmin's stepmother and friend Vicky, the cellist and former mistress to Lord Berrybender seethes as Lord B. cavorts with a voracious but deeply blue-blooded 16-year-old. Only little Petal seems untouched by the provincial malaise. Petal is truly her mother's daughter. Impetuous, brilliant, bossy, demanding, and precocious, the pretty child steals everything her twin brother might want and demands her mother's full attention and, if possible, devotion. She's unimpressed by her father when he returns, but they eventually bond. Suddenly the great caravan lurches into motion again. The governor's governors have ordered the removal of the party to old Mexico, where everyonewill be held hostage for dealings with the soon-to-rebel Texans. Their resumed odyssey brings horrible deaths to both family and retainers from cholera, slavers, and indigenous tribes, and as the Republic of Texas rises, the great adventure winds down. A fitting end to McMurtry's odd but wise saga of Old Europe in the New World (By Sorrow's River, 2003, etc.).
"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."
"Like a cross between John Ford and Quentin Tarantino: a genre-bending Western farce that follows the misadventures and couplings of a sprawling English family and its hangers-on as it makes its roundabout way across the West in the 1830s."
The New York Times
"McMurtry hits the bull's eye...to make readers eyewitnesses to the crucial decade in which the West was both won and ruined."
San Antonio (Texas) Express-News