Waiting for something to happen Sep 1, 2013
I was surprised, when I read this book, at how truly boring it was, given the good reviews it had received. I am guessing that the reviewers were reminiscing more on the quality of McMurtry's 'Lonesome Dove' than on the quality of the writing in this particular novel.
The book began well enough, and the main character of Nellie started off full of mouth and grit. However, there was no character development, the woman's mouth and spunk became annoying over time and the character remained shallow. There were so many places that McMurtry could have taken this character - but as a man writing from a woman's perspective, McMurtry took her to the place where so many men want a woman to be - having promiscuous sexual dalliances and cleaning up men's messes.
There was no recognizable plot, with the narrative appearing simply to be a forum for McMurtry to "name drop" every cowboy or outlaw hero from that period of the west, from Buffalo Bill to Wild Bill. The author overstretched himself in places simply to include a famous character (e.g. Jesse James or Billy the Kid) whose presence did nothing to further develop or improve upon the story.
About 2/3 through the book it becomes abundantly clear that McMurtry has become as sick of the character of Nellie as the reader has, and he ups the pace, skipping years and even decades with the flourish of a pen where initially the pace of the narrative was measured and slow. Characters who could have had some importance to the story are named once and forgotten, and only those with a name worth dropping are discussed further.
I kept waiting for something to happen. It didn't. The ending did nothing to round off the story. The final chapter simply ended like any other chapter - I turned the page, having no indication from the author that this was the end, and there was simply nothing more. I admit to feeling disappointed that I wasted my time reading toward something epic, as the book had initially seemed to promise - and that something even mildly fascinating never came.