We listened to the end only because it was all we had, and because we developed a fascination with how bad it was, wondering how the author could turn this self-centered, singularly unappealing character into someone sympathetic who grew and learned by the end.
Well, it never happened. She never grew, never became more reasonable, never took an interest in others except how they reflected back on her. In a more mature writer's hands, this might've become a powerful portrait of a totally dysfunctional, tragic character.
At some point, we lost all curiosity about how the author would redeem this character, because it was clear she wouldn't. And because she was the narrator, we never learned much of interest about any of the other characters. Eventually, it became a challenge -- could we make it to the end?
We agreed if we were reading the book, we both would've tossed it across the room long ago. But we egged each other on, taking turns predicting plot twists and laughing uproariously at the heroine's self-absorbed descriptions of her trials.
At the end, we both burst into laughter -- at relief we had made it all the way and at the author's ham-handed romance novel descriptions. Unless you like bodice rippers, learn a lesson from our experience and run, run away from this book!
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k1e2n3z, June 29, 2008 (view all comments by k1e2n3z)
I read this book last weekend, and was hooked- I couldn't put it down
I ran out and bought the sequel today
It was brilliant it was absolutely stunning
wonderful wonderful book!
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"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.)
by Shelley Mosley, Booklist (starred review),
"So exquisitely written it's hard to believe that it's also a debut."
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.
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