Saturday, November 21, 2020

Books: The Homesman

I recently enjoyed The Homesman, a Western novel by Glendon Swarthout.  In the book, four wives have been driven insane by the travails of pioneer life. When none of their husbands volunteer to take them home to the East, the task falls to hardworking-but-plain spinster Mary Bee Cuddy and unscrupulous drifter George Briggs. Their odyssey takes them through ice storms, bandits, hostile native Americans, and con artists, but perhaps the greatest peril is the isolation and sorrow of the harsh frontier.

The Homesman takes a far more cynical view of the frontier than Swarthout's other big Western, The Shootist, which is probably why it took over two decades for the book to be adapted into a faithful but money-losing film by Tommy Lee Jones. Swarthout carefully researched 19th century life on the plains,  so there aren't many gunfights or wagon chases - just the West, in all its terrible desolation.


Post a Comment

<< Home