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Book Review: Lonesome Dove

February 14, 2011

A friend gave me a dog-eared copy of Lonesome Dove with the words, “It’s the best book I’ve ever read.” High praise indeed, but when I sat down to read the book I couldn’t get past the first 50 pages. Dust and heat and dust and pigs and heat and pigs and dust. I couldn’t have been more bored. I put the book down and picked it up again a few weeks later with the same result. I gave the book back to my friend with the excuse that Westerns weren’t my thing, but my friend told me to keep the book. Maybe one day when I had nothing else to read I’d pick it up and try it again. About a year later I tried Lonesome Dove again and that time something clicked and while my reaction to the book wasn’t quite as hyperbolic as my friend’s was, I can easily say that Lonesome Dove was ‘one of’ the best books I’ve ever read.

A synopsis of this Pulitzer prize-winning novel is simple. Two former Texas Rangers, Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call, plan a cattle drive from their home in Texas, north to Montana. Beyond that, I’m not the person who is able to write a review of Lonesome Dove that could do the story justice and I’d only wind up insulting the author and anyone else who was unlucky enough to read my review. Should I try a real review, and actually finish, if I were lucky, I’d come off with something resembling an elementary school book report so I’ll leave the real reviews for those with experience at that sort of thing.

Lonesome Dove is filled with unforgettable characters who are so richly drawn that not only are they never boring or clichéd, but they honestly become more than just characters in a book; they become a part of you. You think of them at work, you dream about them, you worry about them. You want to be with them. Lonesome Dove’s themes of friendship, love and loss are universal. Ultimately, Lonesome Dove is a story of not just two old friends, but of each of us.

I never gave the book back to my friend (it’s a long story) and even with my now limited book space, Lonesome Dove still sits with it’s bent and faded binding on my shelf. I couldn’t give any book a higher recommendation.

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