Synopses & Reviews
This breakout novel from the author of The Jump-Off Creek tells the heartwarming story of a determined young woman with a gift for gentling” wild horses.
In the winter of 1917, a big-boned young woman shows up at George Blisss doorstep. She's looking for a job breaking horses, and he hires her on. Many of his regular hands are off fighting the war, and he glimpses, beneath her showy rodeo garb, a shy but strong-willed girl with a serious knowledge of horses.
So begins the irresistible tale of nineteen-year-old Martha Lessen, a female horse whisperer trying to make a go of it in a mans world. It was thought that the only way to break a horse was to buck the wild out of it, and broken ribs and tough falls just went with the job. But over several long, hard winter months, many of the townsfolk in this remote county of eastern Oregon witness Martha's way of talking in low, sweet tones to horses believed beyond repairand getting miraculous, almost immediate resultsand she thereby earns a place of respect in the community.
Along the way, Martha helps a family save their horses when their wagon slides into a ravine. She gentles a horse for a dying mana last gift to his young son. She clashes with a hired hand who is abusing horses in unspeakable ways. Soon, despite her best efforts to remain aloof and detached, she comes to feel enveloped by a sense of community and family that shes never had before.
With the elegant sweetness of Plainsong and a pitch-perfect sense of western life reminiscent of Annie Dillard, The Hearts of Horses is a remarkable story about how people and animals make connections and touch each other's lives in the most unexpected and profound ways.
"Sometimes it seems that literature is an excellent medium for measuring intimacy; sometimes the white space and the black letters seem to gleefully record thedistances between us. "The Jump-Off Creek," written by Molly Gloss in 1989 andreissued by Mariner, is about a woman, Lydia Sanderson, who homesteads alone inWashington state. The book is a prism of loneliness in the form of a novel." -- reviewed by SUSAN SALTER REYNOLDS The Los Angeles Times
"As authentic as sand in one's shoes." - Edward Hoagland
"A rare treat to find characters we can care about this much." The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Gloss has ... a permanent place on the shelf of American literature [featuring] smart, independent women." Kent Haruf, Plainsong,” Eventide”
"A shining example of Molly Gloss' gifts." -- Amy Bloom, "A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You"
"An acutely observed, often lyrical portrayal
has as much to say about people as about horses." Kirkus Reviews
[Gloss] brings the period during World War I vibrantly alive.
Gloss ignores boundaries instead of defying them ... her re-creation of a romantic past and its irrecoverable dreams feels solid.
"[An] affecting, timely novel that lays explicit emphasis on empathy as a yardstick of humanity." - San Francisco Chronicle
Not just a horse story or a tale of the West, Gloss's moving novel ... is a story not soon forgotten.
"Gloss's lyrical story follows the mesmerizing journey of 19-year-old Martha Lessen." - Hallmark Magazine
"A shining example of Molly Gloss's gifts." -- Amy Bloom ("Love Invents Us" and "Away")
"Molly Gloss has made herself a permanent place on the shelf of American literature." -- Kent Haruf ("Plainsong," "Eventide")
"The moving story of a ... strong-willed woman bucking society's norm to gently train horses without breaking their spirit." - Temple Grandin
"Gorgeous! Pitch-perfect ... utterly engaging ... deft." - Andrea Barrett (National Book Award winner "Ship Fever")
"Magnificent .. Molly Gloss has brilliantly recreated a bygone time and place." - Howard Frank Mosher ("On Kingdom Mountain")
"Truly, one of the best books you'll ever read." - Jane Kirkpatrick ("All Together in One Place")
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist and winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award. William Kittredge called The Jump-Off Creek "a truly beautiful piece of American storytelling." The struggles of a widowed homesteader braving the austere and unsparing Blue Mountains contain "enough valor to make an ordinary life seem heroic" (Los Angeles Times). Told with Molly Gloss's unsentimental reserve, this novel is an inspiring reminder of a rich and uniquely American past. (A Mariner Reissue)
A reading group favorite, The Jump-Off Creek is the unforgettable story of widowed homesteader Lydia Sanderson and her struggles to settle in the mountains of Oregon in the 1890s. Every gritty line of the story rings true” (Seattle Times) as Molly Gloss delivers an authentic and moving portrait of the American West. A powerful novel of struggle and loss” (Dallas Morning News), The Jump-Off Creek gives readers an intimate look at the hardships of frontier life and a courageous woman determined to survive.
About the Author
MOLLY GLOSS is the best-selling author The Hearts of Horses, The Jump-Off Creek, winner of both the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award and the Oregon Book Award, The Dazzle of Day, winner of the PEN Center West Fiction Prize, and Wild Life, winner of the James Tiptree Jr. Award.