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The Berrybender Narratives Four Volumes

Mcmurtry, Larry

ISBN 10: 0743233026 / ISBN 13: 9780743233026
Published by Simon & Schuster, New York, 2002
Condition: Fine Hardcover
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About this Item

all four volumes fine/fine first printings. sin killer, the wandering hill, by sorrow's river and folly and glory. handsome set. the old west courtesy of larry mcmurtry. Size: 8vo. Bookseller Inventory # 018448

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Berrybender Narratives Four Volumes

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, New York

Publication Date: 2002

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

Larry McMurtry's Sin Killer, the first novel of a major four-volume work, is set in the West when it was still unexplored, with a rich, brilliant cast of characters, their lives as intertwined and memorable as those of Lonesome Dove, a work that is at once literature and great entertainment. It is 1830, and the Berrybender family, rich, aristocratic, English, and fiercely out of place, is on its way up the Missouri River to see the American West as it begins to open up. Accompanied by a large and varied collection of retainers, Lord and Lady Berrybender have abandoned their palatial home in England to explore the frontier and to broaden the horizons of their children, who include Tasmin, a budding young woman of grit, beauty, and determination, her vivacious and difficult sister, and her brother. As they journey by rough stages up the Missouri River, they meet with all the dangers, difficulties, temptations, and awesome natural scenery of the untamed West, as well as a cast of characters including Indians, pioneers, mountain men, and explorers, both historical and imaginary, and with as many adventures as Gus and Call faced in Lonesome Dove. At the very core of the book is Tasmin's fast-developing relationship with Jim Snow, frontiersman, ferocious Indian fighter, and part-time preacher (known up and down the Missouri as the Sin Killer), the strong, handsome, silent Westerner who eventually captures her heart, despite the fact that they are two intensely strong-willed people, from very different backgrounds. Against the immense backdrop of the American West, still almost (but not quite) unspoiled, Larry McMurtry has created a wonderfully engaging familyconfronting every bigger-than-life personality of the frontier, from the painter George Catlin to Indian chiefs, beaver trappers, mountain men, and European aristocrats and adventurers, as they make their way up the great river, surviving attacks, discomfort, savage weather, and natural disaster. Sin Killer is a great adventure story full of incident, suspense, and excitement, from a buffalo stampede to an Indian raid, coupled with a charmingly unlikely love story between a headstrong and aristocratic young Englishwoman and a stubborn, shy, and very American product of the West, in the person of Jim Snow. At once epic, comic, and as big as the West itself, it is the kind of novel that only Larry McMurtry can write.

Review:

Larry McMurtry's Sin Killer is a wildly entertaining ride through the untamed Great Plains. The first installment of a proposed tetralogy, The Berrybender Narratives, Sin Killer follows the adventures of the Berrybenders, a large, noble English family traveling the Missouri River in 1832. This deeply self-absorbed and spoiled family leaves England for the unknown of the American West, based solely on a "whim" and Lord Berrybender's desire to "shoot different animals from those he shot at home." The novel joins the family as they make their way toward Yellowstone aboard a luxury steamer, accompanied by a motley assemblage of servants, guides, and natives. Along the way, this "floating Europe" and its bickering, stubborn passengers encounter constant adversity, including warring natives, hellacious weather, accidental deaths, and kidnappings.

Thanks largely to Sin Killer's gallery of colorful personalities, McMurtry keeps most of the action firmly in the realm of fish-out-of-water farce. One such character is the independent and opinionated eldest daughter Tasmin, who, frustrated by her family's conventions, escapes the steamer, whereupon she meets and falls in love with Jim Snow, a.k.a. Sin Killer. Snow, an Indian killer raised by natives, is a stoical, God-fearing man who won't tolerate blasphemy. With prose that flows as naturally as the Missouri, McMurtry weaves together a large cast and vast setting into a thoroughly exciting, hilarious adventure novel. Though Sin Killer focuses on a love story and contains plenty of realistic violence, McMurtry's efficient voice and matter-of-fact perspective leaves little room for tragedy or sentimentality, instead emphasizing high comedy. This is wonderful storytelling from a narrator in perfect agreement with his subject. Sin Killer should please McMurtry's many fans, who now have much to look forward to. --Ross Doll

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