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Terms of Endearment: A Novel Paperback – June 4, 1999

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Editorial Reviews


The New York Times Very special...very will make you laugh and cry.

The New Republic A vivid and richly detailed novel about ourselves and those we love.

Newsday McMurtry at his best! He is one of the few male authors who can write convincingly from the woman's point of view.

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10 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (June 4, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684853906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684853901
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove. His other works include two collections of essays, three memoirs, and more than thirty screenplays, including the coauthorship of Brokeback Mountain, for which he received an Academy Award. His most recent novel, When the Light Goes, is available from Simon & Schuster. He lives in Archer City, Texas.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By on May 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
I'm a big fan of Larry McMurtry, and am amazed at the amount of quality material he has cranked out over the years. Be it with his "Lonesome Dove" series, or his more contemporary novels such as this one, there always seems to be parts of the story that make one despair about life in general. There is usually death of some kind. While many authors will write something 'redeeming' about a death, McMurtry will tend to show the stark fact that life goes on, and often a death is indeed a big waste. Cruel as it sounds, it is probably more real than we'd like to admit, and for that, I like his work.
While this novel doesn't contain the wholesale slaughter of his westerns, there is enough pain to carry the story in his manner described above. What makes the book great is how he takes a pair of characters who are not that pleasant a couple, and makes us really care for them. Aurora, the widowed mother, is an overweight, overbearing woman who constantly cajoles those close to her. Her daughter Emma, also overweight and seemingly without focus in life, is not exactly someone you're gonna turn the TV on to see. One is tempted to close the book early on and look for more uplifting characters, but McMurtry hooks you, first with comedy, then tragedy.
I was surprised to see how much I grew to like Aurora by the end of the book, and have sympathy for Emma. There is a method to Aurora's rudeness. For example, being a widow, she has a handful of male suitors. At first I was wondering what all these older guys saw in her, as elderly guys, by sheer numbers, would have the pick of much more numerous older ladies. We see how she keeps them at arm's length, and as the book goes on, we see how they fit into their lives.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Hand on April 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
When I first saw Shirley MacLaine as Aurora and Debra Winger as Emma I knew there was more to thair characters then just fun loving and tears. I picked up the novel 'Terms of Endearment' and finished it in two days, it made me laugh, wonder, and cry. The book surpasses the movie by FAR which is remarkable because the movie is fantastic (and has the 1982 Best Picture Oscar). I enjoyed every minute of this delightful and heartmelting book. The friends and characters that come along in the book are hilarious and touching. The General is smooth talking and Rosie and Verne are just as the title, endearing.
Must read this one!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. T. A. Oliveira on May 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
`"No choice", Aurora muttered, abandoning the field. It was another of her favorite expressions, and also one of her favorite states. As long as she could feel robbed of all choices, then nothing that went wrong could b her fault, and in any case, she had never really enjoyed choosing unless jewels and gowns were involved.'

This is Aurora Greenway, the restless matriarch and protagonist of Larry McMurtry's perennial classic "Terms of Endearment". She is a person who leaves no choice for those around her. She is the one who makes the choices - what makes life a little hard for her bunch of suitors and her grown-up daughter, Emma, whose marriage could be seen as both a escape from her dominant mother and a relationship doomed to fail.

McMurtry, in this novel, is able to create to vivid female characters by displaying more of their actions than their inner thoughts. As the real life of the narrative, Aurora is a dominant presence in the book. Sometimes she seems to threaten to jump from the pages and steal the novel from the author and transform it into something else- what might not necessarily be a bad thing.

As much delineated as Aurora is, as a character, sometimes the lack of a pre-narrative life burdens of her shoulders. Who is she? And more why is she the way she is is a fault in the narrative. Some flashback, or even in a dialogue, some hints could be given of Aurora's past life. Not only would this add dept to the character but nuance to the narrative. "Also, Aurora was easier to like when she was down. The minute her spirit rose she became contrary again." Would glimpses like these into Aurora's psyche be more frequent, "Terms of Endearment" could be a better novel, because they would bring strength to the narrative and humanize the characters.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Christopher on January 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
I suspect many people who read this book came to McMurtry from the movie version and maybe the miniseries or novel Lonesome Dove. If so, I can understand why this book on its own would appeal to them. But if reads to me like a betrayal of McMurtry's characters from Moving On and All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers, as well as to his previous writing style.

Artistically this book is frustrating because almost everything is told rather than dramatized. We get a lot of summery, a lot of exposition. We are often told a character thought or felt this or that, rather than having their thoughts or actions dramatized. McMurtry says he considers this his most European novel, and it certainly reads like an awkward translation of a 19th century novel into English. Everything he'd been so good at in his previous novels--his sense of place, his sardonic sense of humor, his ability to capture people as they are in very contemporary way--is gone.

The book is equally frustrating for he did with his characters. The Aurora Greenway of this novel is nothing like the woman glimpsed in Moving On. We only see her for a moment, and from Patsy Carpenter's perspective, but I think Patsy, though intense, idiosyncratic and prone to a lot of crying, is a fairly trustworthy character. Amazingly Patsy, who took care of Emma and Flap when Flap tried to kill himself, and was frustrated by Aurora's selfish obliviousness to the event, is described in this book as being herself selfish. And Emma thinks Patsy is just like the Aurora of Terms, only less so. (Huh? In Moving On, Patsy flew out to California to help her drug-addicted, abused younger sister, kept peace in her family, tried her best to make her marriage work and was Emma's best friend.)

All the characters in Terms seem like t.v.
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