The Homesman

  • by Glendon Swarthout
  • Narrated by Candace Thaxton
  • 7 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In pioneer Nebraska, a woman leads where no man will go.
Soon to be a major motion picture directed by Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman is a devastating story of early pioneers in 1850s American West. It celebrates the ones we hear nothing of: the brave women whose hearts and minds were broken by a life of bitter hardship. A "homesman" must be found to escort a handful of them back East to a sanitarium. When none of the county’s men steps up, the job falls to Mary Bee Cuddy - ex-teacher, spinster, indomitable and resourceful. Brave as she is, Mary Bee knows she cannot succeed alone. The only companion she can find is the low-life claim jumper George Briggs. Thus begins a trek east, against the tide of colonization, against hardship, Indian attacks, ice storms, and loneliness - a timeless classic told in a series of tough, fast-paced adventures.
In an unprecedented sweep, Glendon Swarthout’s novel won both the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award and the Western Heritage Wrangler Award. A new afterword by the author’s son Miles Swarthout tells of his parents Glendon and Kathryn’s discovery of and research into the lives of the oft-forgotten frontier women who make The Homesman as moving and believable as it is unforgettable.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

hugely disappointing

This begins as an interesting inversion of the western formula, with a strong spinster rancher carting four madwomen home to the east. She co-opts a rascally claim-jumper, after saving his life, and the crew sets off. So far, excellent. But Swarthout betrays this promise by abandoning the strong woman (after first negating his own creation by making her turn weak and silly) and switching point of view to the claim-jumper. The four madwomen, whose backstories are painstakingly detailed, are slammed into a box and never speak or act with volition again; they're no longer characters but just Woman 1, 2, 3, 4. I won't do a spoiler, but Swarthout cripples his own book by killing off a vital character in a ridiculous denial of everything the character is about, and then lets the story dwindle off for ages in a diminishing, eternal, and very disappointing denouement. This is not a book for women listeners, especially any who might identify either with a strong self-sufficient woman or a woman who's gone insane after dealing with fate, winter, and idiots.
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- Marina "Early adopter, longtime listener, bookhungry."

Interesting topic, great for discussion

I read this book a year ago and it was suggested for my book club. I didnt want to read it again so I listened the second time around. I enjoyed the audio better than the hard copy. It's an interesting story about a topic I didn't think much about before - women on the prairie who had mental breakdowns. I found it to be a fascinating subject. It was a great bookclub choice and generated excellent discussion. I was looking forward to seeing the movie, but it never seemed to make it to the movie theatres. This story makes you very thankful for living in modern times!
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- Taryn "Addicted to Audible!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-11-2014
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio