Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “By Sorrow's River ” as Want to Read:
By Sorrow's River
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

By Sorrow's River (The Berrybender Narratives #3)

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  1,640 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
In this tale of high-spirited and terrifying adventure, set against the background of the West that Larry McMurtry has made his own, By Sorrow’s River is an epic in its own right, with an extraordinary young woman as its leading figure.

At the heart of this third volume of his Western saga remains the beautiful and determined Tasmin Berrybender, now married to the “Sin Kill
ebook, 368 pages
Published June 1st 2010 by Simon Schuster (first published 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about By Sorrow's River, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about By Sorrow's River

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Hock Tjoa
Jan 28, 2011 Hock Tjoa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love the lyricism of McMurtry's description of West Texas. Quite apart from his people and the development of their lives and character, he writes about the desert, the dust, the heat - all - with evident reverence and heart.
aPriL does feral sometimes
'By Sorrows River' continues the story of the Berrybender safari into the dark plains and deserts of 1833 America! The Berrybenders are a ragged group at this point in their exploration, having had many disasters by accident and Indian fights. However, nothing deters the alcoholic Lord Berrybender from his desire to shoot every animal which crosses his path, not the deaths of kith and kin, not the unsuitable marriage of his daughter, Lady Tasmin, to an uncouth mountain man, Jim 'Sin Killer' Snow ...more
May 24, 2014 Nigel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
We pause in our heedless wanderings to think and ponder and wrestle with relationships. Well not a pause in the journeying, but during the journeyings, between actually getting anywhere and anything else happening, we get our interlude of romantic complications. Or anti-romantic complications. Poor Tasmin, falling out of love with her fierce, taciturn, wandering husband, and into love with a gentle, passive, guide without a lustful bone in his body. It's a typicially McMurtrian triangle, where d ...more
Feb 17, 2009 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You must read this book. It is one of the best examples of the skillful writing of Larry McMurtry. This book will redefine your impressions of the modern western.
Nov 02, 2009 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McMurtry places this story in Western Texas of British travelers enroute to Sante Fe. We meet Kit Carson and "Pomp" Charboneau as the guides to this group making their way across the Great Plains. It's a hard trek and makes one pause to consider how and why anyone would want to venture out on such a journey.
Sam Sattler
Mar 23, 2012 Sam Sattler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western, series
By Sorrow’s River is the third book in Larry McMurtry's four-book series known as "The Berrybender Narratives."

By the beginning of this book, the Berrybender family and its traveling party have several fewer members than they had at the beginning of Lord Berrybender's quest to kill as many of the wild animals populating America's West as he possibly can. But the old man is not ready to call it a day and, in fact, he could not do so even if he wanted to because he has placed himself and his enti
Aug 23, 2013 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was so excited to find this in the bargain bin outside Brookline know those bargain racks? Where all the books are a buck or two and you always look through them and there are never, ever any good books? Well hope springs eternal and there was Berrybender book three, the very book I needed to continue my trend of one Berrybender saga per summer! How exciting.
It was really nice to return to the crazy Berrybenders and their servants and the local mountain men and Indians as they
Jun 15, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tasmin Berrybender, the daughter of Lord Berrybender, wife of Jim Snow aka Sin Killer, feisty, independent, sharp-tongued, and emotional, takes the forefront of this, the third of four Berrybender tales. As in many of McMurtry’s westerns and the previous two Berrybenders (Sin Killer and The Wandering Hill), the cast of characters is wildly and frequently amusingly creative. Joining Tasmin, her father, and Jim Snow are quirky folks across the spectrum, Indians (Greasy Lake, High Shoulders, The Pa ...more
I enjoyed this perplexing and unique tragicomedy saga, which is the third of a four part series of the journey of an aristocratic British family traveling through the West in the early 1830's on a hunting party. At this critical time, the Indians have yet to be conquered, buffalo still roam, white settlements are sparse, and the Southwest has yet to be wrested from the Spanish. The attractions of this vast wilderness are contrasted with the many dangers and sources of death. The focus of the tal ...more
Jim Clinton Slusher
It's still not "Blood Meridian," but this series has proved as engaging and intriguing as I could ever hope for. I marvel at the artistry of McMurtry's writing, the depth of his description and narration and the intensity of his thinking. I keep comparing this series to McCarthy's masterwork, and that may not be fair. A more appropriate comparison would be to the "All the Pretty Horses," series. Here, the comparison becomes purely a distinction of taste. Which is the better song, Springsteen's " ...more
Mikey B.
Oct 04, 2013 Mikey B. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Much like volume II I felt this should have been condensed. A merge of volumes II and III would have been far more effective. It is puzzling in that some interesting characters are introduced and just as summarily killed off as if the author didn’t know how to weave them into his story (view spoiler). We are basically left with the psychological vicissitudes of Tasmin and the story suffers from this singular fixation. Tasmin ...more
Oct 26, 2014 Mallory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The journey continues on toward Santa Fe, in spite of many obstacles, the harshness of the territory being traveled, and the growing body count. The Berrybenders and their party find themselves in so many preposterously funny situations, I was always laughing aloud or reading with a smile. Torn between two loves, that of her husband Jim and her friend Pomp, Tasmin is still her own woman and the focus of this novel. She knows her own mind and takes orders from none. The West has not broken her, b ...more
Tom Haynes
I always enjoy McMurtry characters, especially in his western, suedo-historic titles. Pomp, Father Jeff and the French crew, Tas and the Berrybender English clan, plus high shoulders and the other indians are just some of the crew irritating the Mexicans with their intrusion into New Mexico territory. This is the first in this series for me. Now I have to read "Sin Killer". The dialog and chatter is colorful and amusing. Good reading.
Oct 05, 2016 Morgan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Felt rushed, not as rich or interesting as the first two books. Felt like he's just pushing the narrative, achieving a third book. Still, will read fourth. I do like McMurtry's writing. I'm also reading a book from which I'll learn. When I'm tired, in bed, I read the easier book. Reading McMurtry's fourth Berrybender book then.
Apr 24, 2008 Val rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anne Duggan
The third of the four Berrybender narratives, this one is unrelenting in its grim depiction of exploring the West. There are no solutions, it seems, to the whites taking over the land, to the violence and to the loss of habitat to Native Americans. There's also a love/lust story happening, inbetween having babies. Ugh. Now I have to find and read the fourth one to see how it all ends.
Paul Parsons
Jan 29, 2013 Paul Parsons rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book III of the Berrybender family's trek across the plains in 1833. Life was cheap in the American west with threats of severe weather, smallpox, Indians, slavers and warring Mexicans. Many of our party succumb.
Copulation and corpses abound in the third installment of the four-part Berrybender narratives. Luckily, both elements are nicely handled with a steady dose of black humor and sharp dialog. The end is terrific. The best book in the series so far.
Aug 17, 2014 Perry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best book of the Berrybender narratives thus far. A bit more tragic in another tough travel book.
Oct 20, 2014 Thurston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series, western
I can tolerate my friends ignominy and say I am hooked on this series.
Steve Saunders
Aug 11, 2014 Steve Saunders rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The crazy fun continues!
Heidi Burkhart
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 01, 2017 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just love all of the books I have read from Larry McMurtry. Although....this book had a lot of romance, which makes me laugh bc it is a western. If you haven't read a western...or think they are not for you give it a shot. Go to the library today and try one of his books!
Steve Chaput
Apr 10, 2012 Steve Chaput rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The third book in McMurtry's saga of the Berrybender family in the American West. Lord Berrybender continues his efforts to hunt the West, taking his family, servants and various hangers-on through drought, Indian attacks and near starvation. They are led by his daughter Tasmine's husband the American scout & trapper, James Snow (nicknamed the Sin Killer by local tribes). McMurty takes the family through a number of trials, including deaths, births and various natural & man-made disaster ...more
May 01, 2012 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The strength of this, the penultimate book in the Berrybender series, lies with its dialogue. Far less seems to happen in terms of story, perhaps because for much of the novel the clan stays at a trading post. Tasmin has an affair, younger sister Buffum marries an Indian, while fourteen-year-old Mary Berrybender discovers that her older botanist boyfriend prefers nude spankings to "fornication." Worst of all, Lord Berrybender is unable to obtain a drop of booze and must endure sobriety for much ...more
May 11, 2010 Trilby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western
What do you do when you've listened to most of the book CDs at your local library? You take out something, anything, to listen to as you drive. That's what I did when I picked up this opus, the third in a series about an aristocratic Scottish family, the Berrybenders, and their adventures Out West in the 1830s. By the time I finished the 10th CD, I was ready to go on a berrybender myself. Sex, violence, violence, more sex, more violence, sex, more violence, etc. ad nauseum. Arggh! I quickly got ...more
Morris Graham
I read this without having read the previous two books. Lord Berrybender, a nobleman from England, continues to lead his ill-fated hunting expedition across the untamed west. His son aparently was killed at the close of the last book by Pawnees. Lord B was simply unaffected at all by his son's death, probably largely due to the fact that he stays drunk whenver spirits are available. There are many scenes and chapters in this book that are indeed engaging, and the author's ability to describe the ...more
Jan 30, 2016 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, series, western
My somewhat spoilerish review:
Book 3 of the Berrybender Narratives. This one seems to focus a bit more on romance and less on action than the previous two, but it is still full of humor and surprises. Tasmin spends the whole book seducing Pomp Charbonneau only to see him die in the end (a fact which was egregiously revealed on the book jacket!) as the party crosses the dry southest plains on their way towards Santa Fe. The party gets smaller and smaller as members keep getting killed off, though
The journey continues but feels a bit more 'plodding' this time 'round. I am way too invested in this story to stop now, but can't help think that the second and third book could have been scaled down to one. I'm still enjoying the series but the "romance" side of the story, which took up most of this book, just doesn't appeal to me as much as the action! There was an unexpected turn at the very end of this book which has motivated me highly to pick up the very last one in the series. But much l ...more
Dec 03, 2007 Toby rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
You know, I had to quit on this. I really like the plots and characters, but McMurtry just spends too much time on sex. Seriously. I listened to only 3 discs out of 10, and there had already been numerous sex scenes, including an adulterous relationship. I'd love it if it were just the western stories of the trappers and all that, but I really just don't enjoy or need to entertain myself with ribald tales of random love affairs. It is unfortunate because the stories are pretty good!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Violent Land (The Family Jensen, #3)
  • Desperadoes
  • The Time It Never Rained
  • A Sudden Country
  • Brimstone (Virgil Cole & Everett Hitch, #3)
  • Welcome to Hard Times
  • Dead Soul (Charlie Moon, #8)
  • Payback At Morning Peak-A Novel Of The American West
  • Autumn of the Gun (Trail of the Gunfighter #3)
  • Blood Money and Other Stories
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 about Larry McMurtry...

Other Books in the Series

The Berrybender Narratives (4 books)
  • Sin Killer (The Berrybender Narratives #1)
  • The Wandering Hill (The Berrybender Narratives, #2)
  • Folly and Glory (The Berrybender Narratives, #4)

Share This Book