Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Molly Gloss, THE HEARTS OF HORSES
An historical novel about a 19-year-old female "horse whisperer" named Martha Lessen during WWI, who creates a circuit for herself of twelve horses that need to be "broke" among a group of farms in Oregon--but she does it the good way. It's a coming-of-age story, about a young woman finding her somewhat unconventional place in the world, and a romance (with both horses and a man named Henry), but I loved best how some of the minor characters are so well sketched, how Gloss captures voices. She has a wonderful, sometimes wry, turn of phrase, sometimes for the narrator (it's told in 3rd person) and sometimes to give us an immediate feel for her characters. "There was turnip and carrot in the soup, and a chicken may have run through the pot on its way to somewhere else, or more likely this was one of the meatless days that had become patriotic in the last few months." And Louise (whose husband first gives Martha a job): "Well my goodness, I have a sister and a cousin both named Martha, so that's a name will come easy to my lips." An enjoyable read, especially for those who love horses, and clean enough for tweens and up, I think. Gloss's earlier book THE JUMP-OFF CREEK was a finalist for PEN/Faulkner, and I liked this one enough that I'll go find it.