What I’m Reading: The Homesman

I just finished up The Homesman: A Novel by Glendon Swarthout.  When I was scrolling through Audible to find a new book this one caught my eye right away.  In the description it said that the book was being made into a movie and Tommy Lee Jones was directing it.  Well I am a huge Tommy Lee Jones fan.  I’ve loved him ever since I saw Lonesome Dove years ago.  So I immediately downloaded the audio book.

The book has most things I like…..pioneers..the west…soddies..a strong woman character…all things I am completely drawn too.

I was even more excited when I saw that Tommy Lee Jones was starring in it too.  There are more greats in the cast including Meryl Streep and Hilary Swank.  I knew I was really wanting to listen to this.  I grabbed some fabric, turned on the MP3 player and started listening.  It was good.  Really good.  Good until I got to the middle of the book.

There people died who shouldn’t have…the strong became week.  The insane became more sane.  I was ready to quit the book but stuck with it hoping it would turn around and a reason would come to the obviously unpredictable plot.  It didn’t come.  The book was so strong in the beginning and then just turned into a wet noodle.

I can’t believe that Amazon readers gave it 4.5 stars…well maybe I can as only 12 people have reviewed it.  I’d give only 3 at best…3 because it did start out so good.

Here’s Amazon’s description, “Soon to be a major motion picture directed by Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman is a devastating story of early pioneers in 1850s American West. It celebrates the ones we hear nothing of: the brave women whose hearts and minds were broken by a life of bitter hardship. A “homesman” must be found to escort a handful of them back East to a sanitarium. When none of the county’s men steps up, the job falls to Mary Bee Cuddy—ex-teacher, spinster, indomitable and resourceful. Brave as she is, Mary Bee knows she cannot succeed alone. The only companion she can find is the low-life claim jumper George Briggs. Thus begins a trek east, against the tide of colonization, against hardship, Indian attacks, ice storms, and loneliness—a timeless classic told in a series of tough, fast-paced adventures.

In an unprecedented sweep, Glendon Swarthout’s novel won both the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award and the Western Heritage Wrangler Award. A new afterword by the author’s son Miles Swarthout tells of his parents Glendon and Kathryn’s discovery of and research into the lives of the oft-forgotten frontier women who make The Homesman as moving and believable as it is unforgettable.”

Will I go to the movie…probably.  I still love the actors that are slated to play the characters.  I still love Tommy Lee Jones a lot and I’m always happy with his movies.  Maybe they will change the part of the book that I didn’t like…you know they do that sometimes-change the book from the movie.  I sure hope..or at least maybe if I see it on screen, I’ll be more understanding of event that made me not like the book…It’s scheduled to be released in 2014 so you can bet I’ll be watching for it.

3 thoughts on “What I’m Reading: The Homesman”

  1. I’m going to give this book a shot. I hadn’t heard of it, but it looks interesting. On a side note – I once cooked dinner for Tommy Lee Jones in my home. :)

  2. “Started out strong and then became a wet noodle”: I’m so glad someone else had the same experience I did! I listened to it on audible while quilting also, and found it very disappointing that the “insane” women never became more than objects that had to be toted around. And even worse that the one strong woman became mush when she developed a liking for the man. The author must be quite a chauvinist, if not misogynistic. Very disappointing.

  3. Hi, Jo!
    Longtime lurker here (love your blog). I heard of this story years ago, when Paul Newman was supposed to be the lead. I don’t know if this was the same book. The story is compelling and there are a number of stories about women going mad from the isolation brought about by homesteading. Laura Ingalls Wilder alludes to it in some of her later books. Thank you for your review–I’ll have to check it out.

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