The Desert Rose

ISBN: 0684853841
ISBN 13: 9780684853840
By: Larry McMurtry

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About this book

Pulitzer Prize-winner Larry McMurtry writes novels set in the American heartland, but his real territory is the heart itself. His gift for writing about women -- their love for reckless, hopeless men; their ability to see the good in losers; and their peculiar combination of emotional strength and sudden weakness -- makes The Desert Rose the bittersweet, funny, and touching book that it is. Harmony is 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. Hers is a loving portrait that only Larry McMurtry could render.

Reader's Thoughts


Lonesome Dove still takes the cake, but I love Larry McMurtry and I truly loved this book.


And I thought McMurtry was only Lonesome Dove! The preface in the book I read by McMurtry describes how the Desert Rose evolved while he was still writing Lonesome Dove- I love it when the author does that! It adds some history and perspective to the story. Anyway it was a good pool side read. You had to love Harmony- she just keep moving forward. As a feminist her relationships with all these looser men was a bit of an irritant- but such is life. Daughter Pepper, in all her beauty, has a lot of difficult growing up to do (I heard there is a sequel that does just that!)

L. Peat

Fun read about low down life in Las Vegas.

Brooke Spencer

I mostly just felt bored and sorry for all of the characters.

Tom Leland

My first McMurtry...makes me wonder if he always writes like this...sentences written much as a very casual, mediocre writer might...anyway, I bet it's quite accurate/realistic in terms of the free and simplistic attitude toward sex and relationships and exhibitionism and life itself, in the Las Vegas show community.One of those works that seems so one-dimensional on the surface, but a multi-dimensional reader will draw bigger things from it...

Jody Dickerson

Not great Larry. It only got a three because I like you and you wrote it during a break from writing Lonesome Dove, so I guess your genius was all used up!

Eric Zimmerman



Larry McMurtry has always has a gift for engulfing you in the life of his characters. It is amazing to me that he can write about women with such accuracy-I wonder if he had lots of sisters. This is a story of a Vegas showgirl gone old and all that comes with it. A great read.

Kristen Morris

from the author of Lonesome Dove and Terms of Endearment, comes this novel about an aging Los Vegas Showgirl and her beautiful daughter. Author is very skilled at instilling characters mood to the author. Both women, are hopeless and rather dismal-- resulting in a bleak and depressing read. However the fact you feel like this after reading Desert Rose is testament to great writing.

Jenni Finlay

My favorite McMurtry.


I thought that the characters deserved more of an ending. The end of the book suggests that the aging Vegas showgirl and her up-and-coming, dancing daughter are destined to repeat all their mistakes and that nothing will really change... it's probably realistic, but I wanted more.


This is a small book for Larry McMurtry, but the subject was fascinating to me: a look at the life of a showgirl in Las Vegas about 20 years ago. I found it realistic but touching.

Debbie Reschke Schug

This wasn’t the most profound book, nor did it have the most beautifully written passages, but it was a treat to read. I finished this in the time span of two plane rides (one of them really, really bumpy). The characters are so fully flushed and vibrant, it’s hard not to love all of them. I even loved Pepper, although McMurtry writes in his forward that he didn’t mean to make her as much as a monster as she turned out. But I really understood why she was the way she was…with a mother like Harmony, it’s easy to get. That’s not to say I didn’t find Harmony sweet and kind. She was, too much so, and that’s why she was flawed as a person and a mother. Of course, it doesn’t take much insight into the human condition to comprehend her either. None of the characters in the book do, and that’s why it was so much fun to read. I felt like I was sitting outside their messy Vegas abode, watching the peacocks as the day passed us by.Lifestyles like theirs are fun to read about because their world is so different than mine. And people in Vegas and the surrounding area really do have an alternate form of reality. An ex-coworker of mine once told me a story when he was working in a TV station in those parts and a new hire showed up for her first day. He could smell alcohol on her breath, so almost ashamedly he asked if she had been drinking (this guy was a pretty mild mannered person, but had a legal obligation to at least ask). The woman very casually said, “Oh yeah, I always have a beer or two when I’m getting ready for work.” That woman could’ve been the real Harmony.

Tom Haynes

I'm a fan of this writer. I love how he makes so many weird, interesting and really flawed characters. Vegas to the east coast. Let's go meet some goof balls. Jump in the van.OOps, I'm a book ahead. The above is for Late Child. The follow up.


Fiction,Western fiction

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