The Lonesome Gods is the first full-length book I’ve read from Louis L’Amour. His s...more(Originally posted on Elizabeth Editorializes, my book review blog)
The Lonesome Gods is the first full-length book I’ve read from Louis L’Amour. His short stories are thrilling and often heart-warming, so I expected a L’Amour novel to be the same, but more fully developed and thorough. I was not disappointed.
Johannes Verne is the hero of this story, a boy who comes west across America with his father, Zachary Verne. It is a dangerous journey, for they travel across a desert filled with hostile natives and bandits, in a lone wagon with strangers for companions. Zachary is ill and dying, but determined to get his son to Los Angeles.
The destination is just as dangerous, for it is to Don Isidro, Zachary’s father-in-law, that he hopes to transfer care of 5-year-old Johannes – a man who tried to kill Zachary for marrying his daughter, who pursued the couple into the desert and forced them to go into hiding, and who might still hold a grudge. Zachary knows that Don Isidro may wish his grandson dead as well, but he is the only family left to a boy who has already lost his mother and will soon lose his father as well.
Just as in his short stories, L’Amour has packed this novel with gunfights, chases on horseback, friendship and enmity with native peoples, and un-flowery romance. Without page limitation, there is an increase in the number of characters, as well as a more in-depth development of those central to the story. The length of the novel also allowed the author to span a great deal of years, so that the reader witnesses young Johannes growing from a child to a man, with the aid of loyal friends and some harrowing experiences.
Looking at the book from a technical perspective, there are some passages that are a touch unpolished, and the author has a slight tendency to repeat himself during certain scenes. The examples that come to mind are the few times when a character has a thought that he then repeats nearly verbatim to a companion. These instances don’t amount to much, and likely wouldn’t fill more than a page altogether, but it is sloppy and perhaps a bit distracting.
The only other criticism I have in terms of nuts-and-bolts writing technique is repetitious word usage. I tend to notice this in others’ writing because I am vigilant of it in my own. One of the first things I look for is how often and how recently I’ve used a particular word, and I try to use synonyms whenever possible. This was apparently not a concern for Mr. L’Amour or his editors, but it is a small complaint in the grand scheme of a very successful book.
What really counts in The Lonesome Gods is the story. L’Amour was such a marvelous storyteller, that anything else takes a distant second place in importance. The narrative has an ideal pace, keeping the reader involved on every page, emotionally invested and wide-eyed for much of the book.
There are scenes that are so enthralling, reality completely slips away. At one point, during a silent standoff that was sure to explode in gunfire at any moment (or any sentence, really), I found myself jumping at the sound of my husband scraping a chair leg on the floor. I was so fully inside the story that I startled as though one of the characters had made a sudden move.
Not many authors can write like that, can make you feel entirely present in the story in that way. The text fades away, and all you see is action, as though the page in front of you were a movie screen. The alertness of the narrator becomes your own alertness, his fear your fear. It is quite an accomplishment. Louis L’Amour was a true entertainer of the highest degree.
The Lonesome Gods is such a beautiful melding of history, culture, and adventure, that it should be recommended reading in American public schools. It is a fascinating portrait of the formative years of the United States’s western cities, a purely great story about a very admirable young man, and it is chock full of moral fiber and freedom-loving sentiment.
If I had read this book in my high school English classes, I would have taken much more interest in American history, but at least I have read it now. I am so pleased to have my own copy of it, and would recommend it to absolutely anyone, without reservation.(less)
This is the second one I've read of these, and it is chronologically much earlier in the series than the first one I've read, so now I feel I must sta...moreThis is the second one I've read of these, and it is chronologically much earlier in the series than the first one I've read, so now I feel I must start the series from the beginning... since I'm really enjoying them!(less)
This is really more of a 4.5-star book, but it didn't quite warrant a full five. The book was basically excellent. I did not think I would enjoy readi...moreThis is really more of a 4.5-star book, but it didn't quite warrant a full five. The book was basically excellent. I did not think I would enjoy reading a story that was all journal entries and letters, but it worked really well. There were a couple of details that were unclear to me, leaving me confused throughout a great deal of the book whenever those particular issues were discussed, and they were only mostly cleared up by the end of the story. The end seemed quite abrupt after all that build-up, and seemed to leave a few loose ends.
My biggest issue with this book was the author's obsession with manliness and femininity. It was quite sexist the way he continued to assert (through his characters) that a female is too frail to even handle knowing certain things, let alone being in on the action. Also, the characters who were lauded the most were those who were the most masculine, the most 'daring,' 'fearless,' strong, impulsive, etc. He was really harping on these stereotypical gender roles. I understand that part of that is the era in which the book was written, but a lot of it was the author's own mentality.
That blatant sexism is really the only thing that kept the book from being absolutely top-notch, however, and I would absolutely overlook that flaw and recommend it to anyone. It exceeded my expectations.(less)
This was really good, but didn't quite live up to the high standard set by Girl With A Pearl Earring, at least for me. Her characters in this book wer...moreThis was really good, but didn't quite live up to the high standard set by Girl With A Pearl Earring, at least for me. Her characters in this book were interesting and enjoyable, but in my opinion, there were a couple too many. I did not think that she allowed the reader to spend enough time with each character, and so I did not feel as close to any of the young women as I did with Griet in GWAPE.
Even so, there was enough emotional depth, wit, and irony to keep me happy, plus the added bonus of the author's continued skillful use of subtle feminist undertones.
All in all, I thought it was very well written and quite enjoyable. (less)
I'm a sucker for a Salem witch trial book, and this was a fresh take on it - switching between modern day and colonial times, delving into the occult/...moreI'm a sucker for a Salem witch trial book, and this was a fresh take on it - switching between modern day and colonial times, delving into the occult/supernatural, and throwing in a few twists along the way. I really enjoyed it - I'm glad I picked it up at that garage sale!(less)
This book was really fun and clever. I sped through it, picking it up every chance I got, because it was so engaging. It wasn't an amazing book, but I...moreThis book was really fun and clever. I sped through it, picking it up every chance I got, because it was so engaging. It wasn't an amazing book, but I really enjoyed it.(less)
What a handy, humorous little reference guide to the traditional wisdom of capable women! I love this book, and it has already helped me get out a few...moreWhat a handy, humorous little reference guide to the traditional wisdom of capable women! I love this book, and it has already helped me get out a few stains (from spilling things on my clothes).
This book has everything from choosing produce, ironing things properly, growing an herb garden, dealing with difficult neighbors, to spending a romantic date night at home without having to shell out money for an expensive restaurant dinner, and much in between - all written in such a way as to give you a chuckle no matter what you're looking up.
The advice comes mostly from various women who lived (successfully) through the Great Depression, one way or another.
This guide is all about being frugal and living very enjoyably, by simply being resourceful, clever, and kind. It's my kind of book.(less)
In about 5 years, maybe a couple more, I intend to lend this to my little niece. I think it would be right up her alley - at least the first two books...moreIn about 5 years, maybe a couple more, I intend to lend this to my little niece. I think it would be right up her alley - at least the first two books. You've got to love a strong, independent, clever, fearless, and opinionated heroine! I think every tween/teen girl should read these books for that reason; plus, they are funny and well-written as an added bonus.(less)
This was actually really funny. I did not expect that. I'm really enjoying Jane Austen, and I didn't expect that, either. I am almost done with the no...moreThis was actually really funny. I did not expect that. I'm really enjoying Jane Austen, and I didn't expect that, either. I am almost done with the novels, all I have left is to read Persuasion and re-read Pride and Prejudice. Then I can re-read The Jane Austen Book Club and get even more out of it!(less)