I have been looking forward to this review for a while now. My first taste of McCarthy was when I saw the deeply disturbing but fantastic 2009 movie The Road staring Viggo Mortensen previously known for playing Aragorn in Lord of the Rings and the star role in A History of Violence. It would be years before I actually picked up my first two McCarthy books, two for one deal at a second hand book shop got The Road and All the Pretty Horses, and what excellent purchases they were. Sadly I may have to re-buy my book collection since I’m in the process of beginning the naturalisation process so I can be a full UK citizen and I did not realise how steep the shipping and handling over seas is! However I did bring some of my books, All the Pretty Horses being one of them.
Setting: 1949, San Angelo, Texas => Mexico
Three Sentence Summary:
- John Grady, our main character, has lost his grandfather and the novel opens with a viewing of the body and the news that the ranch he lives on will be sold.
- John and his friend Lacey decide to ride their horses south into Mexico in search of fun and work and pick up another companion, reluctantly, a young outlaw calling him self Jimmy Belivins.
- John and Lacey loose Belivins at some point and ride further south in to the Mexican landscape eventually finding work but the trouble Belivins got into catches up to John and Lacey who are put into prison and narrowly survive long enough to be bailed out when Lacey decides to ride back to Texas and John tries to find the girl he fell in love with on the ranch but ultimately gets revenge on the corrupt officials who imprisoned him and his friends, reunites with Lacey, and then rides off into the sunset.
This story is a seriously sad one. Some main themes include isolation, loneliness, being “the stranger in a strange land”, and loss. John Cole Grady, over the course of the book looses his grandfather in the beginning which also means that his family is selling off the ranch something he was deeply attached to, later John Grady falls in love with a young woman living on the ranch, Alejandra, whom he will later be forced to never see again, after him and Lacey are arrested they reunite with Belivins only to witness him being walked off and executed off the record, by the end of the novel John Grady’s father dies along with the longtime family caregiver (his mother has been out of the picture for a long time), and it’s somewhat implied by the ending that the strain of the journey on the friendship between John Grady and Lacey ultimately breaks them up leaving John Grady with no more ties and no home to ride off alone into the sunset with his horse and Belivins bay horse.