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Buffalo Girls

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  1,956 ratings  ·  115 reviews
A strange old woman cakes in Montana mud pens a letter to her darling daughter back East. The writer's name is Martha Jane, but her friends call her Calamity...
Paperback, 250 pages
Published May 1st 1995 by Pocket Books (first published 1990)
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WORST Book Cover Art
98th out of 209 books — 169 voters
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Calamity Jane
3rd out of 4 books — 1 voter


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,708)
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Jesse
I like to think about this: while 2nd generation Puget Sound pioneers were felling the old growth Doug firs from which my house is built, and Irish immigrant carpenters were nailing together my roof beams, Calamity Jane was still alive and kicking around Deadwood. It's true that the American wild west was history by then, but young Calamity had lived that wild west in her youth when it was the real thing.

This book isn't about the wild and audacious life Calamity lived, it's about the truth that
...more
Paul Parsons
Okay, this one surprised me. At first I thought this to be another McMurtry cast of misfits wandering through meaningless lives. And for the most part, it is, with the added history of real Western characters such as Bill Cody and Calamity Jane. The story is told through multiple points of view and can be a little confusing. The one constant was Calamity writing letters to her long lost daughter about her adventures. The twist at the end was unique and made me reflect on the whole book different ...more
Jenny
A fictional story of Calamity Jane. Several characters are real (Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill Cody, Sitting Bull) others are based on real people, all are fictionalized. It's the story of people who live beyond their time - in this case the Wild West after it was tamed. It's a beautiful sad story I've read many times. Betty Buckley reads the audio version and she is just heartbreakingly wonderful.
Bonnie
This book starts slowly but it does deliver in the second half. A fun summer read with many sad parts. It's almost like he wrote it for the movie.
Jimmy
Historical fiction with such historical names as Martha Jane Canary, Dora DuFran, Teddy Blue Abbott, William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, Jack Omohundro, Sitting Bull, Annie Oakley, the Countess of Warwick (Daisy), Russell of the Times, and Potato Creek Johnny. But the person who steals the whole book is a fictional ancient Indian scout named No Ears. When he's in the story, it's MacMurtry at his finest.

One flaw in the book for me were the letters from Calamity Jane to her daughter who is also calle
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Max
Very, very disappointing as I have other McMurtry novels on my shelves (Lonesome Dove, Leaving Cheyenne, The Last Picture Show, Texasville) and have thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them. I looked forward to Buffalo Girls as another enjoyable read. Boy, was I let down. The entire story revolves around Calamity Jane and her ability (or inability) to adapt to changes that the Wild West is going through during the mid 19th century. The indians are gone from the plains, there are no more buf ...more
Jean C
The main character's personality (Calamity) truly shines through and you just want to hug her (then wipe off the dust). McMurtry adds in her best friend Dora, who is near equally engaging, as is Calamity's Indian friend, No Ears. I liked his character even more so than Calamity's. While I'm at it, practically all the characters are endearing, each in their eccentric way and you will love meeting them. This is a 95% character-driven book--not so much plot.

I do think the book could have been trimm
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Fiona Squires
Forget about Doris Day. This novel tries to ground the legend of Calamity Jane in something of the reality of the West.
The novel focuses on Jane and several of her friends as they try to eke out a living in a West which has changed substantially since they started out. The animals have been hunted to extinction and the Indian wars have been won, leaving these aging frontiers people with little option but to parody their past as part of Buffalo Bills travelling Wild West show.
McMurty fictionalise
...more
Betty Silvia
I was drawn to this book because of the title and setting. I grew up in the North Dakota, and have long heard tales of these wild west legends, Annie Oakley, Wild Bill Hickok, Sitting Bull. It was entertaining to read about their interaction with each other as well as the changing times. I felt the loss of the "good old days" when the west was truly wild. I understood the dilemma of the characters when the west no longer supported their lifestyle and so they joined the traveling Wild West show.

T
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Lynley
This is the first Larry McMurtry novel I've read, though the films based on some of his books are among my most favorite. I haven't seen the TV film version of this, and didn't know it existed, and I didn't know anything much about Calamity Jane, either. About halfway through the novel I looked her up and realised the cast of characters was based (to a certain extent) on real historical figures, or at least upon the myths surrounding them.

I really enjoyed this book, and appreciated some of the t
...more
Michele
I liked the idea of this story more than the execution: Calamity Jane traveling the old west and accompanying Wild Bill Cody to England with his Wild West Show, which they performed for the Queen. Exciting stuff! Well, not exactly. By the time the book opens, Jane is a drunk that wanders around with other sad friends as they pine for the time before the west was won.

Most of the characters behave like idiots, and you can't believe they survived as long as they did. Jane spends most of the story
...more
Becky
Buffalo Girls was an easy summer read which didn't meet my expectations; however, it did parcel out tidbits of historical interest. Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show (the European tour) is only a small part of the story. Chapters and sections of the book shift focus between the main characters that hang out with Calamity Jane who is the main character. I found No Ears, the old Indian in the story,very interesting as he shed wisdom and insight into events that others seemed to ignore. Calamity J ...more
Tom Burke
I loved this story. With the last page turned I whooped out loud with pleasure. Wonderful dialog, dense characters, a good dab of history and literary technique (like the aside on the stage or screen) that builds and builds to the last. So glad I picked this book up!
Ricky Orr
At first I didn't think this book was special, but my opinion began changing with each new page. As the characters in the story age and fade like the wild west, I formed a connection with the characters and I felt their longing for the glory of a bye-gone era.
Elaine
Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart

The memoir SUMMER AT TIFFANY is the delightful story if two Iowa sorority sisters great adventure to NYC in the summer of 1945. Marjorie and Marty, inspired by a fellow Kappa's summer job as a sales girl at Lord & Taylor, leave Iowa for the first time to hopefully find jobs at the famed store themselves. With a bit of luck, a good connection and a bit of mixup, they are hired as the first female pages at Tiffany & Co. earning $20.00 per week!

Their "pied
...more
Shawnee Bowlin
Larry McMurtry kept me entertained throughout the book Buffalo Girls. Calamity was wild and careless, untamed for sure! No Ears was intriguing. His perspective was certainly welcomed, as I've not read much from an Indian point of view. Dora's story was heartbreaking.
I found the male parts interesting since the book was supposed to be mainly about the female cowgirls. I feel too much was included on the males only because of this aspect.
However, the shocker towards the end was amazing! I certain
...more
Shelly
"I am the wild west, no show about it. I was one of the people who kept it wild...." Calamity Jane. An old woman in the Montana mud writes a letter to her daughter in the East. Her name is Martha Jane, but everyone in the west calls her Calamity. This is the story of Calamity's last days. Here you will find Indians, beaver hunters, saloons, gunfighters, frontier history, everything you could possibly want in a western. Calamity Jane and Annie Oakley along with other Western legends go with Buffa ...more
Trey Bahm
One of my favorite quotes of all times comes from this book:

"Out west, no one is too crazy to hang."
Susan
Thoroughly enjoyed this audio book on a long drive through the back country in Oregon.
Rachel
An old compliment to actors that you rarely hear anymore is, "I'd listen to him read the phone book," and I thought of that as I was reading Buffalo Girls. When it comes to Larry McMurtry, I'd read it if he wrote the phone book because, as plotless as it might be, he would somehow manage to convey in it all the pain of daily living. Not that Buffalo Girls has no plot, but it's a thin one; it's mostly just a few old characters coming to grips with the fact that the time of the American West as an ...more
Patricia
Seventeen members attended the Buffalo Girls Meeting which was held at the gazebo, Madeline's Birders Rest on Wednesday. The walk a round the reservoir was pleasant. We were not bothered by too many bugs and we were off the trail by dark. Buffalo Girls is a story of a small tribe of mountain men and women and Indians, real people, whose stories outgrew their lives. The west was settled, the bison and beaver were gone and their life styles were about to become extinct. The story centered on Marth ...more
Honey
I can't help it. I love Larry McMurtry. Ever since I fell in love with Lonesome Dove and as a result, old western novels in general, I have been a sucker for just about everything this guy makes up and writes about.

This was a sad book, mostly because the story follows the end of the wild west and the diminishing lives of adventurous, wandering old-timers. There's a feeling of finality and conclusion that pervades the tale, bringing with it an introspective sense of change, and of course, death.

I
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Cathy Simonds
Quick read.
Had a sudden interest in Calamity Jane after catching the 1950's Doris Day movie. Could anything be further from the dirt of the Black Hills than a Hollywood sound stage? Could anything be further from the truth about Martha Jane and Bill Hickok than the movie? The music is excellent, though.

Felt I had to read something quickly to balance the godawful cheeriness of Doris. This book did the trick. MuMurtry focuses on an alocholic Martha Jane in her forties and her long-time friends -
...more
Steve
An historical fiction account of the period after the Wild West has passed its hay day that centers around the character of Calamity Jane. While Calamity is the central character, the novel is as much about Dora DuFran, T. Blue Abbott, Buffalo Bill Cody, and fictional(?) Bartle Bone, Jim Ragg, No Ears, and others, both real and fictional, as it is about Calamity Jane. All the characters struggle in different ways to come to grips with the increasingly settled Wild West, trying to find ways of ma ...more
Michelle
I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book. I would not categorize as a Westen action novel. Rather it is a very well drawn portrait of the last days of the Old West. As McMurtry wrote, the Old West was a place where a person relied upon "energy, muscle and will." There is a certain sadness to this story as we meet the characters in the latter days of their lives and witness how their skills are no longer in demand. Interestingly, McMurtry focused more on fleshing out the women characters than ...more
Jeff Dickison
A good fictional biograpny of Calamity Jane and her friends. The book is wildly innacurate, but does capture what feels like the truth about the alcoholic Calamity. One of the worst inacuracies is having Dora DuFran die before Calamity, although she really outlived her by about 30 years. Well written, semi-humorous account of the changing of the old west. Recommended.
Brent Soderstrum
I always enjoy a Larry McMurty book and this one doesn't disappoint. In this historical fiction novel McMurtry tells the story of how various characters adapt to the Wild West winding down and becoming more civilized. Some like Buffalo Bill Cody handle it well making a lot of money taking Wild West shows all over the US and Europe. Others like Calamity Jane and her friends Bartles and Jim get disappointed at the loss of all they had loved whether it was the beaver, the buffalo or the Wild West i ...more
Cormacjosh
I have not done enough research on the life of Calamity Jane to vouch for this novel’s historical accuracy. I have some question regarding it, since McMurtry’s book on Billy The Kid was loaded with falsity and inaccuracy, but this book was at least more entertaining a read nonetheless.
Alex
Calamity Jane, Bill Cody, and a the last cowboys Indians and mountain men that the west has to offer find themselves heading to London with their wild west show. This novel is mostly a remembrance of an idealized west that has already passed its inhabitants by as the country has followed in their heels with civilization. AN assortment of historical western figures are given lives and personalities, many of which are presented via Jane’s letters to her fictional daughter conceived with Wild Bill ...more
Richp
This is a fictional account based on the latter part of the life of Calamity Jane, and is really about the passing of the American Wild West and the creation of its mythology. While not LM's best, so-so for him is still above average.
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Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays.

Among many other accolades he was the co-winner of an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain in 2006.

Larry McMurty was born in Wichita Falls Texas in 1936. His first published book Horseman, Pass By was
...more
More about Larry McMurtry...
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