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Riding Lessonsby Sara Gruen
Synopses & Reviews
A stunning new voice in American fiction, Sara Gruen makes a masterful debut with a novel of family, tragedy, rebirth ... and the breathtaking love of something wild.
As a world-class equestrienne and Olympic contender,Annemarie Zimmer lived for the thrill of flightatop a strong, graceful animal. Then, at eighteen, atragic accident destroyed her riding career and Harry,her beloved and distinctively marked horse.
Now, twenty years later, Annemarie is coming hometo her dying father's New Hampshire horse farm. Jobless and abandoned, she is bringing her troubled teenaged daughter to this place of pain and memory, where ghosts of an unresolved youth still haunt the fields and stables — and where hope lives in the eyes of the handsome, gentle veterinarian Annemarie loved as a girl ... and in the seductive allure of a trainer with a magic touch.
But everything will change yet again with one glimpse of a red and white striped gelding startlingly similar to the one Annemarie lost in another lifetime. And an obsession is born that could shatter her fragile world.
"Like The Horse Whisperer, Gruen's polished debut is a tale of human healing set against the primal world of horses. The Olympic dreams of teenaged equestrian Annemarie Zimmer end when her beloved horse, Harry, injures her and destroys himself in a jumping accident. In the agonizing aftermath, she gives up riding and horses entirely. Two decades later, she returns to her family's horse farm a divorcee, with her troubled teenaged daughter, Eve, in tow. There, her gruff Germanic mother struggles to maintain the farm and care for Annemarie's father, who is stricken with ALS. Although Annemarie decides (disastrously) to manage the farm's business, her attention quickly turns to an old and ostensibly worthless horse with the same rare coloring as Harry. Her long-denied passion for riding reawakens as she tracks the horse's identity and eventually discovers it to be Harry's younger brother. She must heal both horse and herself as she struggles with her father's deterioration, Eve's rebellion and her attraction to both the farm's new trainer and her childhood sweetheart Dan. Impulsive and self-absorbed, Annemarie isn't always likable, but Gruen's portrait of the stoic elder Zimmers is beautifully nuanced, as is her evocation of Eve's adolescent troubles. Amid this realistically complex generational sandwich, the book's appealing horse scenes — depicted with unsentimental affection — help build a moving story of loss, survival and renewal. (Apr.) Forecast: Never underestimate the public's fascination with horses. Harper Torch certainly isn't; the house is launching Gruen's debut with an impressive 400,000-copy first printing. While this book isn't likely to be the next Seabiscuit, its striking cover image, featuring a silhouette of a wild horse, will help attract a broad spectrum of readers." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"So exquisitely written it's hard to believe that it's also a debut." Shelley Mosley, Booklist (starred review)
From a stunning new voice in American fiction comes this masterful debut with a novel of family, tragedy, rebirth, and the breathtaking love of something wild. Original.
About the Author
Sara Gruen lives with her husband and three children in a conservation community outside of Chicago. This is her first novel.
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