Cities of the Plain – Cormac McCarthy

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This is the book that I found sitting in the exhibition area of the Planetarium and felt it was my duty to read. It is a part of bookcrossing.com, a website that promotes sharing books with others to enjoy by passing them on physically or leaving them behind in a place to be found. I haven’t fully decided where I plan on leaving this book however I want to leave it behind for someone else to find and enjoy. Although I don’t think this is something I could do on a regular basis as I love holding onto my books and keeping them on display. It’s true that a book can bring back memories of how you felt when you read it or where you were when you read it so I love looking at my bookcase, at a particular book and reminiscing at the time I read it.

Cities of the Plain is the third book in The Border Trilogy which tells the story of John Grady Cole and Bill Parham who are working in New Mexico on a ranch. Set in 1952 they live like what I would imagine a modern cowboy would be like, telling stories by the fire and selling and buying horses. I haven’t read the previous two books so it took me a while to get into the book and get to know the characters and their personalities but I never expected for the plot to head in the direction it did. Blind to the overall storyline, it was a shock when John Grady fell in love with a Mexican prostitute and set of a string of events and action.

I haven’t read any of Cormac McCarthy’s work before but have some of his books piled up on my TBR self. From what I have read of his personality and the nature of his novels I didn’t expect this book to have such a well written love story. The scenario is tough as the young woman is dominated and held by her boss Eduardo. She isn’t allowed to leave with John and Eduardo would rather her die than find happiness with another man. Despite these dark undertones, how McCarthy writes about love is extraordinary, pure and innocent. The characters in this novel are all hard working and don’t have life handed to them, yet we know what they feel and that they are human beings under their strong appearances.

I liked the characters in this book as they were strong and realistic. As I read this book it panned out like a movie in my head and I couldn’t help see it as an old fashioned movie with some of my favourite classic actors and actresses.

This novel is fast paced and perfectly matches the plot. It is fuelled with tension and suspense especially as the action unfolds. This novel really surprised me because I didn’t expect it to be something I would enjoy. As far as horsemen and ranches go, it wouldn’t be my chosen genre however I did enjoy this book and before I knew it I was wrapped up in the plot. It has encouraged me to move Cormac McCarthy’s works to the top of my TBR pile so I can experience more of his work.

This book covers so many areas so it would be suitable for many different readers. For fans of Cormac McCarthy, you will know what to expect, from what I’ve read this is similar in standards to the rest of his work, yet branches out to cover a love interest. With the masculine strength and male dominated world of this book it covers more sensitive and romantic issues. I enjoyed it and gave this book 3 out of 5 on goodreads. It would have been nice to lead into this book having read the first two in the border trilogy but each book seems to concentrate on its own action and plot.

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