The Desert Rose

Larry McMurtry

08 October 2015
240 pages


Bittersweet, funny and touching, Larry McMurtry's The Desert Rose is the story of Harmony, a Las Vegas showgirl.

At night she's a lead dancer in a gambling casino; during the day she raises peacocks. She's one of a dying breed of dancers, faced with fewer and fewer jobs and an even bleaker future. Yet she maintains a calm cheerfulness in that arid neon landscape of supermarkets, drive-in wedding chapels, and all-night casinos.

While Harmony's star is fading, her beautiful, cynical daughter Pepper's is on the rise. But Harmony remains wistful and optimistic through it all. She is the unexpected blossom in the wasteland, the tough and tender desert rose.

Warm and funny . . . The real triumph of the book is Harmony herself, an unabashed romantic whose optimism and tenderness refuse to wilt in this arid, unromantic setting . . . McMurtry can transform ordinary words into highly lyrical, poetic passages . . . and presents human dramas with a sympathy and compassion that make us care about his characters in ways that most novelists can't
Sad and sweet yet rigorously unsentimental. Mr McMurtry has the power to clutch the heart and also somehow to exhilarate
The astounding thing about Harmony . . . is that she really does have a heart of gold, and despite everything, she is wholly believable, oddly moving, even lovable