The tale of three generations of the Northumbrian Tye family, told by three generations of Tye women – Betsy, Bell and Hetta.
The main focus is the men in their lives, in particular Will – Hetta’s brother, Bell’s nephew, Betsy’s grandson – who like his uncle before him, was inspired (in part) by The Night Climbers of Cambridge to climb one of the spires of King’s College, Cambridge, and, like his long dead uncle, fell.
The Wife is my first Meg Wolitzer. I only picked it up because I’d been unable to find The Interestings on the Barbican Library bookshelf, my appetite for that particular Wolitzer whetted by her recent turn on BBC Radio 4’s World Book Club.
It wasn’t until I looked at the cover of The Wife that I realised she’d written the book behind the recent film starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce. Not that I’ve seen the film, but it did mean I read the book knowing the final twist, and able to spot the clues en route.
Nine year old Dido skilfully looks after for her depressed mother, Eliza (who we soon learn is her aunt), in a windswept London council tower block. Some weekends she stays with her sort-of step-dad Giles and his newer girlfriend, Julia in the former family home – a fine north London residence.
Down in Cornwall we are introduced to Pearce who took on the family farm, reluctantly, when his father died. His separated sister Molly and her daughter Lucy live in a nearby town. Not one of the pretty ones.
Elizabethan madrigals and Roger Trevescan, a disgraced sixteenth century Cornish courtier, brings everything and everyone together.
Borrowed from Phil, on the recommendation (his and USA Today’s) that “If you only read one Western, read this one”, I started this weighty tome a few weeks before flying out to Nepal. I found Lonesome Dove a slow start, and although it accompanied me all the way to Tsum and around the Manaslu Circuit, it remained largely unread during the trek, partly due to lack of opportunity and partly due to lack of inclination.
However, once back in London I reached the stage where retired Texas Rangers, Captains Call and McCrae, are ready to leave Texas, leading their crew of cowboys on an epic cattle drive from the heat of the Mexican border, north across the plains and the rivers that run down from the Rockies, to the blizzards and mountains of Montana.
Cowboys and Rangers. Young settlers and old trappers. Indians and outlaws. Cows and buffalo. Grizzlies and rattlesnakes. Happiness and sadness. Lonesome Dove turned out to be a very good read.