The last of my October reads – I really didn’t read much in October! I’m not sure why – I have had some busy work weeks but had some quiet ones in October, too. I know I got on with some quite big books, and I caught up with my Mag Lag too … Anyway, here are three reads and one DNF …

Mary O’Hara – “Green Grass of Wyoming”

(1980s)

Ken is 16 now and his brother Howard is off to West Point. Ranch finances have improved thanks to the sheep and cattle, and Nell has her extension and furnace, but the prize bull is terrifying and Nell s having horrible premonitions and feels ill. Thunderhead has got out of the secret valley and is stealing mares to set up a new herd, and when he comes across a prize racehorse filly, Ken gets to meet her owner, Carey, and it’s love at first sight. But Carey has an overbearing grandmother, Jewel can’t be found, and Ken and Howard find themselves squaring up as rivals. The romance, which I loved during my teenage reads of this book, seems a bit rushed and naive now, but Nell’s struggles are heartbreaking. I could go on and on reading about this family and their horses, but this is the last one … Really glad I have re-read them all over the past few months, though.

I seem to have last read this along with the others in the series in July 2000 (interestingly close to my readings of the Larry McMurtry Thalia series): here’s my review from then:

“The characters from the previous books, people and horses, grow up and face more challenges. More overtly Christian than the earlier books, and with a new love interest, but still the same excellent, spellbinding stories and characters.”

Frances Osborne – “The Bolter”

(26 January 2012)

Another from my great Stratford charity shop haul, and a Virago, too.

The story of the author’s naughty great-grandmother, by what I realised is Tory Chancellor, George Osborne’s wife (sorry – that put me off a bit!). All the tales of wild goings-on were competently enough told with the right amount of detail, but the fact remains that it’s all pretty sordid, and while it’s obviously good to be a strong woman in charge of your destiny, it’s all a bit shallow and nasty, and Idina actually comes across as pretty weak and needy, but all sympathy is geared towards Idina and her awful behaviour. You can’t help remembering, too, that behaviour condoned in the very rich is castigated in the poorer levels of society …

Larry McMurtry – “Duane’s Depressed”

(11 April 2000)

Third in the original Thalia trilogy, being re-read before I get to books 4 and 5, purchased recently, and more wonderful realistic McMurtry. Duane gives up his pick-up truck and starts walking everywhere, for no apparent reason, then living in a shack on his property. There is lots of satisfying detail about how he arranges things, but the local community and his family proclaim his depression. There is a general improvement in the family, however, as everyone pulls their socks up, although golden boy, Sonny, from The Last Picture Show is actually in more of a decline. A great description of psychoanalysis and – separately – the redeeming quality of gardening. McMurtry pulls a shocker with one beloved main character, but it’s mainly great to be back wallowing in the world of Thalia.

This is the one out of the three that I’d only read once, and I didn’t remember much of it at all. Oddly, I don’t seem to have recorded a review of my first read, even though I mention it in a review of “The Last Picture Show” in 2000.

E. A. Markham – “Meet me in Mozambique”

(29 September 2012)

I wanted to like this, especially as I had found the other two books in the trilogy in January via BookCrossing and bought this second hand so I had the first one, and it is about returning Caribbean immigrants, which is right up my street, but I just could not engage with it for some reason, and gave up.