Monday, May 24, 2010

Book Review - Hearts of Horses

During my recent travel, I bought a book.

I'm usually a library person myself, but the schedule has been so intense I haven't been able to get to the library. So I was scouring the airport book store for a book to read. I found one on the way up and one on the way back. I recommend both, but for the sake of horsecentricness, let's focus on the Hearts of Horses.

The setting is America, in the West, during World War I. I'm not usually one for historical novels, but this one was right up my alley. Here's the description from Amazon:

After she leaves home in 1917, 19-year-old Martha Lessen plans to travel from farm to farm in Elwha County, Oregon, breaking horses left behind by owners away fighting. She winds up in small town Shelby, where farmers George and Louise Bliss convince her to stay the winter with them after she domesticates their broncos with soft words and songs instead of lariats and hobbles.

It was fascinating reading, Gloss has done a wonderful job bringing both Martha Lessen alive and the time - balanced between the "wild west" and the mechanization of the world - comes into view fully realized in her descriptions.

I enjoyed catching the details of how she worked with horses, using techniques of gentling most of us are familiar with. Round penning. Sacking out. Ponying. Tieing peacock feathers to manes to desensitize horses to spooky things around their necks (I'm totally trying that). The balance of firmness and patience and above all, concern for the horse, not merely the job to be done.

The community she works in comes alive too, I cried and laughed, and was sorry to see the story end. Always the sign of a great book.

I've finished my copy and don't tend to re-read fiction. If you'd like me to send this your way, let me know in the comments. If there's more than one person, then I'll draw a name.

What are you reading these days?


AareneX said...

I *loved* this book!

I picked it up a few years ago (when it was first published) while I was at an endurance riding conference in the Pasco area where the book was set. Came home to my library and started recommending it to all the book groups--so now a LOT of folks here have read it.

The author did a ton of research and read a lot of local/oral histories to make the historical (non-horse) parts accurate. You can sort of tell which incidents were taken from real life (the cancer patient, the ice skating party...), which I appreciate.

Once Upon an Equine said...

Sounds like a great book. No time to read these days, but I will add that to my list and when I get through the stack of books I'm working on now, I may pick it up.

Leah Fry said...

I have not read it and would love to!

Grey Horse Matters said...

I'd never heard of this book before. It sounds good I'll give it a try. Thanks for the review.

Crystal said...

Sounds like and interesting book. said...

I liked this book until a lot. Could have lived without the ending.... when the horse stuff stopped. Loved the horse stuff! The end was ok, but the horse part was really nice. Really!

Adventures in horse training said...

Liked this book a lot! Especially the horse training! It felt very quiet and it just struck me. The end got a little less....less horse related.

Beth said...

Humm. . .I have looked at this book but I always wonder if it just another one of those books that has a horse on the cover and that is most you see of the horse. This sounds good though, I'll have to add it to my "to read" list. Thanks!