The Homesman by Glen Swarthout


Re published February 14th by Simon & Schuster 
Format: Paperback
Page count: 256

This was my first Glen Swarthout book so I had no idea what to expect from this. Like others (probably) I've seen the trailer for the film and liked what I saw. I then proceeded to rush out and buy the book so I could be all pretentious with the whole “ I liked it before it was a movie line”

This was a hard book to review. My god it was bleak. Really bleak but it doesn't try to be anything other than bleak. Considering the subject matter how could it be anything else?

In return for saving his life Briggs agrees to help Mary Bee Cuddy ferry 4 women who have lost their minds across the western plains back home to their families. Not exactly a laugh a minute.

But for all its bleakness there is beauty in it. Mary Bee is an amazing character. She lives alone as all the men have wrote her off for being plain as tin. They refuse to look beyond to see what a remarkable woman she really is. She lives alone and manages to stay sane and strong. Something women with a husband for support have not managed to do. They seem to think that having a husband and a lock of kids will solve everything. When it clearly doesn't !

When it comes time to bring these poor women home she commits the ultimate act of selflessness by agreeing to take on this seemingly impossible task.

I was so utterly disgusted by how easy it was for the husbands to just wave the wives off. Glad to be free of the burden. I know it was common at the time especially with the lack of asylums but it didnt make it any easier to read, or accept.

I found the pacing very very slow. The story trundles along very much like the wagon itself. The landscape seems to affect every aspect of this story. The journey is fairly uneventful until the unexpected twist near the end. I have to say I didn't see it coming at all but when it did happen I could see why it happened. It didn't make it any less heartbreaking though.

I'm still torn on the ending. It was almost like Swarthhout just ran out of material. It was strange.

If your looking for a slow burning western that's a little bit different then I'd definitely recommend The Homesman


★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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