Larry McMurtry's 1985 novel "Lonesome Dove" begins in the small Texas border town of Lonesome Dove in the 1870s, where McMurtry introduces a cast of characters, including retired Texas Rangers and best friends Woodrow Call and Augustus McRae, who made a name for themselves fighting Indians in their youth. Former Ranger colleague and friend Jake Spoon returns to town after ten years of traveling the west. He is a drinker, a gambler, and a rogue, but he is charming, and he captures the heart of the town prostitute Lorena Wood. Jake tells of the untamed lands in Montana, so a group leaves Lonesome Dove to drive cattle to Montana and establish the first ranch in that territory, which sets off a series of adventures, dangers, and unlikely reunions.

Before his arrival, Jake accidentally shot a man in Arkansas, leading Sheriff July Johnson to hunt for Jake. Johnson's new wife, Elmira, grew bored of her married life and abandoned her town and her husband, so July spends part of his journey searching for her.

The story is complex, involving a diverse array of characters whose paths cross unexpectedly and sometimes implausibly. McMurtry fills his tale with tragedy and selfishness. The nineteenth-century American West is a harsh world, and the people of this novel harden themselves to it.
It is a breath of fresh air when we encounter a moment of tenderness. The characters feel real to the reader. Their flaws can be found in many of us. Some of them redeem themselves, while others meet a deserved or undeserved fate.

A theme of the story is acceptance of responsibility for one's actions. One character refuses to acknowledge paternity responsibilities; others are punished for their association with villains and the fear that prevents them from escaping that association.

"Lonesome Dove" won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and inspired a TV mini-series and multiple follow-up novels by McMurtry. It is a story of hope and disappointment; of friendship and loyalty; of unrequired love; of regrets for paths not taken; and of challenge, failure, and triumph. It is a tale of aging gunfighters coming to terms with the changing world around them.  It is an epic tale of life in the Old West.

Despite all the sorrows of "Lonesome Dove" and its characters, I loved the journey.