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Let Him Go

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  2,090 ratings  ·  410 reviews
"With you or without you," Margaret insists, and at these words George knows his only choice is to follow her.

It’s September 1951: years since George and Margaret Blackledge lost their son James when he was thrown from a horse; months since James’s widow Lorna took off and remarried that thug Donnie Weboy. Now Margaret is steadfast, resolved to find and retrieve her grands
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 3rd 2013 by Milkweed Editions (first published January 1st 2013)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,090 ratings  ·  410 reviews

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Richard Derus
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
2020 UPDATES Author Watson on the film: "I thought it was terrific—intelligent, moving, and suspenseful. It’s as propulsive as any thriller, but it’s also as tender as any love story. Every performance is excellent, and every scene has something original and interesting." Read the whole interview with him on LitHub.

The 6 November 2020 film has a really intense trailer!

**2019 UPDATE** There's a major motion picture on its way...starring Kevin Costner as George and Diane Lane (!!) as Margaret. It'
Imagine a woman who lost her adult son when he was thrown from a horse. Now imagine that the same woman fears that she has also lost his young son, her only grandchild. Do you think she could let him go? That’s her husband’s advice, not because he doesn’t love his grandson, but because he doesn’t see any clear solution to the problem.

If you are Margaret Blackledge you are not going to follow the advice of your husband, George. You are not about to let him go. You are not about to let Jimmy go be
Cathrine ☯️
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5 🥃 🥃 🥃 🥃 🥃
This book just took over my Sunday morning plans, had to let them go. After sitting on my stand for weeks and weeks I finally got to it and at the fifty percent mark could not put it down. I was tempted to wait on the movie with Kevin Costner and Diane Lane but so glad I succumbed to reading temptation. It should be a great film but there is so much nuance in the pages which cannot be transported to the screen. My first Watson but surely not the last. Hot Damn! This delivered on every
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[4+] A spare, intense novel about a couple's quest to find their grandson. There is tension and some action in their journey but mostly this about George and Margaret and their relationship. Watson shows how it is done, stripped of all sentimentality. A stunning love story. ...more
Sep 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
WOW! The suspense begins in the very first chapter and keeps building as the story evolves subtly warning you that danger is on the way. The relationship between George and Margaret is so full of deep emotion, and unconditional love which makes the (view spoiler) This is not a happy, feel good book, but definitely one of my 2013 favorites. ...more
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really am too much in awe of this novel to offer a coherent review so instead I offer a list of adjectives: brilliant, desolate, violent, searing, linguistically perfect.

1951 South Dakota is not my typical read but everything about this novel captured me. Watson never wasted a single word but evokes these aching people in these lonely places with grace and integrity. It's the kind of book that made me want to stop every few pages just to appreciate the language. I will certainly read more of W
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent!!! Not sure two characters could be any better suited for each other. I’m anxious to see Kevin Costner play the role of George in the movie. Can a love story be gritty and raw? Larry Watson seems to say “hell yeah!”

Update: of course the book was better than the movie. But the movie was good. So read the book then watch the movie. I hope this movie has success and we see more Watsons on the big screen.
Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5 Stars. I can't believe I just discovered Larry Watson. ...more
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Larry Watson’s bare bones writing style tells a deceptively simple story. Just as the pitch perfect title is packed with multiple meanings, the author’s lean economy with words end up delivering surprising layers. Clean and raw, yet magically lyrical.

The characters are as striking as any you are likely to find within the pages of a book. The Weboy clan – the boys are pure D mean stupid, a dangerous combination. Blanche, the mama, is not stupid, but meaner than a snake. As another reviewer noted,
Diane S ☔
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
The 1950's and North Dakota, not exactly the days of the old west but much of the attitude and history is still present. A hardy people, hardy stock and hard-working like Margaret and George. Unfortunately in places it is still the old west in that laws don't apply to everyone and fear can still have a huge impact. They take a journey with the hope of retrieving someone that has the utmost of importance, to Margaret more than George. They find more than they anticipated and will never be the sam ...more
Jun 06, 2020 rated it did not like it
There were at least two things I did not like about this novel.

1. I felt that the conversations between the husband (George) and wife (Margaret) were contrived and were mainly for the reader to understand things and events that had happened in the past between the husband and wife. It’s not how normal people talk who have been married a good long time. At times, it was like they had just met.

Good god, I could have done without the stupid sex scene between the husband and wife. I felt it was so
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Book Club read #28 Jan. 2020.

Had this on my nightstand for quite a while, unread. Maybe it was the title - it just didn't grab my attention. It took a 5 star review from a trusted GR friend, Cathrine, to make me take another look at it, to convince my book club to make it our next read, and to sit down with it today and finish her off in no time. Like Cathrine said, this book will take over your schedule and whatever was planned for the day won't get done.

George and Margaret have lost their so
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So well written!!!! At first it reminded me a little of Kent Haruf's fiction- gripping, simply told, American West, etc.--but it really is even more. It is suspenseful, it is "a wonder"( Diane S-again!). Larry Watson is a MASTER of fiction! Read it- you won't be sorry!!!! ...more
Larry H
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Winter is approaching in rural Dalton, North Dakota in the early 1950s. One day retired sheriff George Blackledge returns home from work to find his wife, the headstrong, stubborn Margaret, packing up the contents of their house and loading their car. She is determined to track down Lorna, their former daughter-in-law, who remarried following George and Margaret's son's death in a freak accident, and moved away with her ne'er-do-well husband, Donnie Weboy, and Margaret and George's young grandso ...more
Nov 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-i-own
I’ve read several Of Larry Watson’s novels and I always enjoy them. He did not disappoint me with Let Him Go. I figured I had better read it before the movie comes out. I don’t want to have the actors in my mind when I read a book. I want to picture the characters myself and not have the influence of Hollywood. (Especially now that I found out Costner is the main actor - I’m not a fan.).

Back to the story....Larry Watson has the ability to tell a big story with few words. I love that! This is a
Bonnie Brody
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you read a book so good that it leaves you breathless and not wanting to come up for air. That is the case with Larry Watson's, Let Him Go: A Novel. Written in language rich, poetic and spare like the land it takes place in, it is a story that will leave you wanting to read whatever else this author has written.

The year is 1951. Margaret and George Blackledge have lost their son in a horse accident. He was thrown off the horse and his neck was broken. He left a wife, Lorna, and a son n
JoAnne Pulcino
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-fiction

Larry Watson

Montana 1948 was my first encounter with the wonderful author, Larry Watson. Now I am again quite in awe of his straight forward but masterful writing, characters that fly off the page, and creative everyday plots that become heroic and almost mystical.

LET HIM GO is the story of a grandmother who has lost her son and the mother of her grandson has remarried in haste to a despicable ne'er do well and has taken her only grandson with them. The grandmother is determined to ge
Nov 26, 2020 rated it liked it
I came upon this book after watching the film that I mostly hated, finding the story sparse and poorly told and the runtime exceeding what the tale warranted. And I have never understood how Diane Lane can make a living as an actress.

The only way that I can explain why so many people love this book is because they are looking for another Cormac McCarthy. Larry Watson tries to fill those shoes.

Creative writing. Two words that are synonymous with horror, in my book. If you want to rewrite the rule
Crystal Craig
I read this book as a precursor to seeing the movie. Once I watch the movie, I'll add a little blurb about what I thought.
As for the book, I'm disappointed. I was expecting more.
I didn't care for the lack-lustre climax and the abrupt ending. The lack of quotation marks for dialogue did not make for a smooth reading experience.

On a positive note, I thought the characters were alright, and the writing was decent. Unfortunately, it lacked that WoW factor.
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Unlike this reviewer, Larry Watson has a way of writing sparse little quips that make you stop, drop, roll in it, and then wonder if anyone else saw you. Further, no quotations just like Cormac, but these deletions don't strain your brain and rip your guts out in that same way.........instead this syntax puts you in the characters' real lives (because who except late show hosts use quotation marks when they are talking).

Second point- I will admit it.........the trailer of the movie made me read
Sep 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The simple plotting of Larry Watson’s Let Him Go – the quest of Margaret and George Blackridge to reclaim their young grandson, who lives with his mother and rotten-to-the-core stepfather – belies the strong emotional impact of this exquisitely powerful book.

The power sneaks up on the reader when it is least expected – in a snatch of dialogue, a perceptive insight, a small detail that turns everything around. Larry Watson is a master of breathing life into his characters through ordinary convers
Nicola Mansfield
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Exquisite literary country noir piece centering on poor families, clans and kin, what extent they will go to to keep kin with kin and the hierarchy such families have in place. This is a devastating story and while short, a slow read, a piece that deserves to be lingered over rather than devoured. This is not a happy story and if that is what you like to read it won't be for you. Gritty, bleak and oppressing even, at times, this is the kind of story that makes me think and appreciate the good in ...more
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I do not remember where I first heard of this book or why I added it to my list of books to be read, but whomever that messenger was all I can say is thank you. This book is breathtakingly brilliant. The author has picked up each word and placed it so precisely and perfectly that it reminds me of a typesetter setting type; nothing is said that need not be and everything that needs to be said is expertly conveyed. This book packs a wallop; it hits you in the heart and in the gut. Beautiful, smart ...more
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: librarything
The novel is set in 1951 in North Dakota. Margaret Blackridge convinces her husband George to take a road trip to rescue their grandson Jimmy. After their son James was killed in an accident, their daughter-in-law married a ne’er-do-well, Donnie Weboy, and moved to Montana, taking Jimmy with them. Margaret fears that Donnie is not a good step-father, and her fears seem justified when she and George are told by one person that the Weboys “are nothing but trouble” (34) and by another that “I go ca ...more
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
On one hand, I really had some problems with this book, on the other hand, after finishing it I found myself thinking about it more than I do most novels. On the surface, it is a modern "western" set on the border of North Dakota/Montana in 1951. Yet the setting just serves the atmosphere of isolated, lonely ccmmunites. The real North Dakota badlands between states is symbolic of a divide between "home" and a quest to bring home what has been lost. Margaret and George, seeming ordinary 60 year o ...more
Sep 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Four stars for the writing, two stars for the plot line. Of course I understand Margaret, grandmother to Jimmy, wanting to chase Jimmy’s mother, Lorna, across North Dakota and into Montana when Lorna takes off with a new guy. And a lazy, no-good guy at that. Hard to imagine a grandmother who could bear the idea of her precious grandson – her only tie to her grown son who died too early – disappearing into a questionable and perhaps unwholesome situation hundreds of miles away. This I get. What’s ...more
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had not heard of Larry Watson until a goodreads friend sang his praises recently. What a talent he is. In 270 pages, he draws full pictures of a long-married couple, other people in their sphere, and the very land on which they live in North Dakota, as well as the land they travel in search of their grandson. In 1951, after 40 years together, George and Margaret Blackledge are each coping in their different ways with several losses: the too-early death of their beloved son, the physical and em ...more
Nov 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
3.5 stars
The book is as intense as the trailer to the new movie.
Michelle Morrill
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
More of a 3.5 but I liked the writing so much I went with a 4. Loved the dialogue (though the lack of quotations took some getting used to). The storyline was..interesting. There was so much unsaid that was said. Great writing. I get the feeling this author could write about anything, even about watching paint dry, and it would keep you reading.
Dick Aichinger
I found another one. When did it become acceptable to write conversation without quote marks? This one was handled better with other formatting, but still ... it is a distraction.

This is a story (another that has been made into a movie) about an aged couple living in a small town in North Dakota in 1951. Their son dies when thrown from his horse leaving behind a young wife and son. The wife marries within a year of being widowed and the couple take the boy away. The woman knows in her heart that
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Larry Watson was born in 1947 in Rugby, North Dakota. He grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota, and was educated in its public schools. Larry married his high school sweetheart, Susan Gibbons, in 1967. He received his BA and MA from the University of North Dakota, his Ph.D. from the creative writing program at the University of Utah, and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Ripon College. Watson ...more

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“Autumn has come to northeast Montana. The vapor of one’s breath, the clarity of the stars, the smell of wood smoke, the stones underfoot that even a full day of sunlight won’t warm- these all say there will be no more days that can be mistaken for summer.” 11 likes
“A four-year-old has so little past, and he remembers almost none of it, neither the father he once had nor the house where he once lived. But he can feel the absences – and feel them as sensation, like a texture that was once at his fingers every day but now is gone and no matter how he gropes or reaches his hand he cannot touch what’s no longer there.” 5 likes
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