In Horse Heaven the universe of horse racing is woven into a marvellous tapestry of joy and love, chicanery, folly, greed and reckless courage. Spanning two years on the circuit, from Kentucky and California to New York and Paris, Jane Smiley's wonderful novel puts us among trainers and track brats, horse-obsessed girls, nervy jockeys, billionaire ...
In Horse Heaven the universe of horse racing is woven into a marvellous tapestry of joy and love, chicanery, folly, greed and reckless courage. Spanning two years on the circuit, from Kentucky and California to New York and Paris, Jane Smiley's wonderful novel puts us among trainers and track brats, horse-obsessed girls, nervy jockeys, billionaire breeders and restless track wives.
I have now purchased three copies of this book?the one I read when it was published, another for a friend who works in the racing biz, and a third for myself to replace the first one, which I must have loaned out. This is one of Smiley's best works, I think. She gets animals like no other writer I can think of save Temple Grandin. Maybe it's all those years of living in Iowa, or maybe it's that she loves horses and people, but as in "Moo" (another favorite) the animal characters are as interesting as the humans. She's generous with both, but she knows a villian when she meets one, and she tells a good tale.
Apr 2, 2007
You don't have to know racing to enjoy!
This is a great book in the typical Smiley fashion of bringing all of the characters together even though you wonder how she will pull it off. You don't have to know about racing or horses to follow this book. Fun reading and hard to put down.
Publishers Weekly, 2000-02-28 The Chinese calendar aside, 2000 may be the Year of the Horse. Almost neck and neck with Alyson Hagy's Keeneland, this novel about horses and their breeders, owners, trainers, grooms, jockeys, traders, bettors and other turf-obsessed humans is another winner. Smiley, it turns out, knows a prodigious amount about Thoroughbreds, and she is as good at describing the stages of their lives, their temperaments and personalities as she is in chronicling the ambitions, financial windfalls and ruins, love affairs, partings and reconciliations of her large cast of human characters. With settings that range from California and Kentucky to Paris, the novel covers two years in which the players vie with each other to produce a mount that can win high-stakes races. Readers will discover that hundreds of things can go wrong with a horse, from breeding through birth, training and racing, and that every race has variables and hazards that can produce danger and death, as well as the loss of millions of dollars. (A scene in which one horse stumbles and sets off a chain reaction of carnage is heartbreaking.) Characters who plan, scheme, connive and yearn for a winner include several greedy, impetuous millionaires and their wives; one trainer who is a model of rectitude, and another who has found Jesus but is crooked to the core; two preadolescent, horse-obsessed kids; a knockout black woman whose beauty is the entrance key to the racing world; the horses themselves (cleverly, Smiley depicts a horse communicator who can see into the equine mind); and one very sassy Jack Russell dog. Written with high spirits and enthusiasm, distinguished by Smiley's wry humor (as in Moo), the novel gallops into the home stretch without losing momentum. Fans of A Thousand Acres may feel that Smiley has deserted the realm of serious literature for suspense and romance, but this highly readable novel shows that she can perform in both genres with Úlan. 150,000 first printing; 15-city author tour; Random House audio. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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