"It is 1830, and the Berrybender family, rich, aristocratic, English, and fiercely out of place, is on its way up the Missouri River to see the American West as it begins to open up." "Accompanied by a large and varied collection of retainers, Lord and Lady Berrybender have abandoned their palatial home in England to explore the frontier and to broaden the horizons of their children, who include Tasmin, a budding young woman of grit, beauty, and determination, her vivacious and difficult sister, and her brother."--BOOK JACKET.
Outrageous is the best general characterization of these stories. The adventures and their characters seem larger than life and more colorful than neon. Not for the faint of heart, unexpected, random, senseless and disturbing atrocities, injuries, and deaths litter these tales, with a side of lots of “rutting.” The majority of the initial primary characters do not survive to see book four4 of the series.
Yet, the stories grabbed me. I went through the series like popcorn, wanting to see what amazing events would occur to the crazy Berrybenders and their growing entourage. The series is intense, rollercoastering through every facet of human emotion and many aspects of abnormal psychology. Nothing dull in these books. The frequent connections to actual historical persons and events keep the tales interesting and grounded, despite the continuum of bizarre incidents. Not for everyone, but I liked it.
If you enjoy stories in which you're invited as reader to sit back and watch a cast of crazy characters, this may well be your ticket. Personally, I prefer stories in which I can identify with one of the main characters.
With all of Lord Berrybender's amputations, this would have to be the definition of 'dark humour'. McMurtry does dark humour well. But I'm slightly squeamish. I preferred the dark humour of Buffalo Girls.
I felt so bad for the American frontiersmen and ship captain for all that they had to put up with these fops.
Tasmin had more sense than her father and most of her family, but not as much as she should have had to navigate the frontier alone as she thought she could. She mostly wanted escape from her family and Jim Snow, Sin Killer, was her answer. Jim Snow is amenable for the most part, but it has to be on his terms and his are pretty harsh. He's a good person, but he has rules he lives by and Tasmin has to follow them, too.
I will likely listen to the rest of the series or read them since DH and I collect all of McMurtry's books, but it's going to be a while before I will be ready to put up with more of the Berrybender antics.
Four frontier beans....