This is kind of a silly book about a woman who is writing a country-western romance. In order to add verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative, she decides to take riding lessons. Now why a country-western romance writer decides to take lessons in a high-end dressage barn is beyond me, but that is what she does.
Told from alternating viewpoint of a broken-down cow pony name Sonny, we follow Clarissa as she enters the world of high-end show horses. Along the way, she catches the eye of a young, handsome, Argentinian dressage teacher. He could have any of the young, nubile women thirsty after his body, but he is attracted to this middle-aged writer on an old cow pony.
Clarissa’s life comes to a crisis when her husband asks her to come to Paris where he is enjoying a vacation. Which is it to be? Her boring husband of many years, or the hot Argentinian teacher with his mysterious, tragic past?
Simon has to grow up quickly when his friend and mentor is killed in an eventing accident. As he struggles to cope with his feelings for his friend, he also struggles with some health issues and personal challenges. This third (and I hope not final) book takes us even deeper into the mind of a top-notch rider. Pagones has hit her stride with this account of a less than likable character. I suppose no one reaches the top of a competitive world by being a nice guy, and yet I find myself rooting for Simon. He needs a good horse and a good man to make his life complete.
I’ve been wanting to read Jane Smiley but was put off by the high prices her publishers demand for her books. When a copy of this book was on sale for $2.99, I gave it a shot. I am so glad I did. This farrago of characters kept me amused for months. As I neared the end, I read in smaller and smaller bites to make the book last longer.
For a reader like me, more interested in characters than plot, this book was made in heaven. It takes place over two years, and all the people and horses (and one dog) involved in racing get their time in the sun as the book goes on. We learn about the owners, trainers, grooms, psychics, horse masseuse, bettors, and most importantly, the horses. Their personalities, fears and ambitions make up the novel.
One complaint lodged against the book is that there isn’t a plot. There wasn’t a plot to the Seinfeld show, either, but it made for excellent television. This book makes for excellent reading.
It is difficult to review this book. It would be easier if it were a rant or a rave. Instead it’s just ‘meh.’ The author looks at six uses of the horse from the dancing horses of the haute ecole to the draft horses that are making a comeback in agriculture. There is no unifying thesis to bind these disparete articles into a whole. Instead they read like magazine articles published at various times.
If you know a young person who is horse mad and not very critical, this book might make a nice gift.