I’m a big Brad Pitt fan, lifetime member kind of fan and one of my favourite film’s of his has to be Legends of the Fall. So when I was offered the chance to read the Legends of the Fall book by Jim Harrison, on which the film was based, I was never going to say no. Recently republished through Grove Press, I had no idea that this was actually a novella, and the book also contains two other stories, Revenge and The Man Who Gave Up His Name.
As I started to read the first novella in Legends of the Fall, Revenge, the storyline seemed vaguely familiar. Indeed the Kevin Costner film of the same name is based on it. Revenge is a love triangle with no winners. Cochran, a Vietnam veteran travels to Mexico and falls in love with the wife of a notorious gangster called Baldassero “Tiburon” Mendez AKA Tibey. We follow Miryea and Cochran as they begin their affair, thinking they are away from prying eyes. But Tibey has contacts everywhere and his wife’s treachery is soon reported back. Tibey extracts his revenge on his wife by cutting her beautiful face, drugging her, and giving her to a whorehouse where she is forced into have sex with strangers over and over again.
As a drug addict she is close to death and Tibey eventually arranges to move her to a remote convent in the belief that Cochran will never be able to find his love. Meanwhile he arranges to have Cochran beaten to a pulp.
He’s not counted on that love though, and Cochran is determined to find our what has happened to Miryea and to make Tibey pay.
The story has violence and love and you soon get drawn into the storyline and characters. Even though the story is much shorter than a novel, I really enjoyed Revenge and wanted there to be a happy ending, alas, that wasn’t to be.
I struggled a little more with the second novella, The Man Who Gave Up His Name. Nordstrom is your average middle-aged man. He’s a successful wealthy business, who suddenly realises that his marriage has been dead for years. He is no longer happy with his life and the trappings of wealth. We watch as he decides to change everything, agrees to a divorce and decides to head across America, giving away his money. He wants a new life, being a chef in a seafood restaurant. But he gets beaten up by thugs in New York before his final departure and everything changes.
The story just didn’t grab me and I had no interest in Nordstrom or his fate to be honest.
Legends of the Fall is the last novella in the book and reading it, I fell in love with the story all over again. It’s 1914 and we meet three American brothers who decide to ride into Canada so they can sign up to fight for the British. The brothers are all so different, Alfred is stable and dependable, Tristan is wilder and loves the native American way of life, while their younger brother Samuel is the dreamer, a lover of nature. Tristan swears to look after his brother but unfortunately he can’t. When Samuel dies, Tristan deserts, finds his body, removes his heart in the native American way, so he can return his brother to their homeland. He manages to escape to England and then on to Canada. The story sees Tristan marry Susannah, but his heart is never really with her, as he can’t escape his guilt over his brother’s death. We follow Tristan as he leaves her behind and goes on adventures. He becomes a bootlegger and re-marries a native American who sadly gets killed in the crossfire when a deal goes wrong.
It’s a beautifully tragic story and one I very much enjoyed reading. I’ve included my Amazon Affiliate link below for your reference in case you fancy reading the three novella’s in Legends of The Fall for yourself this summer.
disclosure: we were sent the item mentioned in exchange for an honest review