The Wandering Hill
The Berrybender Narratives, Book 2
The second volume in Larry McMurtry's four-part historical epic featuring the Berrybender family as they continue their journey through the West during the 1830s.
In The Wandering Hill, Larry McMurtry continues the story of Tasmin Berrybender and her eccentric family in the still unexplored Wild West of the 1830s. Their journey is one of exploration, beset by difficulties, tragedies, the desertion of trusted servants, and the increasing hardships of day-to-day survival in a land where nothing can be taken for granted. By now, Tasmin is married to the elusive young mountain man Jim Snow (the "Sin Killer").
On his part, Jim is about to discover that in taking the outspoken, tough-minded, stubbornly practical young aristocratic woman into his teepee he has bitten off more than he can chew. Still, theirs is a great love affair and dominates this volume of Larry McMurtry's The Berrybender Narratives, in which Tasmin gradually takes center stage as her father loses his strength and powers of concentration, and her family goes to pieces stranded in the hostile wilderness.
The Wandering Hill (which refers to a powerful and threatening legend in local Indian folklore) is at once literature on a grand scale and riveting entertainment by a master storyteller.
This is the second volume in McMurtry's four-book series the Berrybender Narratives, following last year's Sin Killer. Set in 1833 along the banks of the Yellowstone River, the comedic melodrama mixes unwashed mountain men with an arrogant, obnoxious and uncouth family of English aristocrats in a saga of high violence, low morals and lusty copulation. Lord Berrybender and his brood of selfish bumbling children, servants and mistress are touring the American West, shooting every animal in sight. The lord is a one-legged, drunken satyr who cares only for his own pleasure, and pokes his son's eye out with a fork. The rest of the family is just as self-centered and irresponsible. Eldest daughter Tasmin, a vulgar, opinionated woman, is married to enigmatic mountain man Jim Snow, known as the Sin Killer for his fervent brutality in the punishment of sin (not his own, of course). He cannot understand why Tasmin willfully refuses to be more like his two Indian wives, silent, obedient and submissive. Still, their love is passionate and so are their fistfights. The English group and a bunch of smelly, hairy mountain men winter over at a trading post through months of quarrels, meanness and downright coarse behavior, while marauding Sioux under the command of a white man hating war chief called the Partezon gruesomely torture and slaughter any white they can catch. McMurtry tosses in famous hunters and mountain men like Hugh Glass, Kit Carson and Tom Fitzpatrick, plus a buffalo stampede, grizzly bears and an Indian ambush, but these are just props to support the soap-opera antics of the Berrybender clan. A few folks manage to get themselves killed, but there are plenty of annoying Englishmen left to people the next two volumes.