Tag Archives: The Horse Dancer

The Stars are Fire … and More

To not forget some of the books I read last month, I’m listing them with short reminders.  What have you been reading?  Send me your comments.

9780385350907_p0_v2_s192x300   The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve

I eagerly anticipate each new Anita Shreve novel and The Stars Are Fire did not disappoint.  Although the fire in Maine begins the story with horror, Shreve wisely introduces two romantic leads to replace the uptight authoritarian husband who conveniently disappears fighting the fire.  The relief brings romance and a career to the heroine, but her reprieve is not longlasting.  The husband returns, scarred and needy, and more demanding – dangerously vindictive.  Her solution requires courage to save herself  – perhaps the small children motivate her to act.  Happily, all ends well, incluidng the opportune reappearance of a lover, but I’m not sure many women would take the path she did in the nineteen forties.  I cheered her on, thinking how lucky she was to have the haven of a good friend.

9780143130628_p0_v3_s118x184  The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes

Horses and girls – always a good formula..  News of the Kentucky Derby and a documentary on the  Maryland Hunt Cup with Senior Senator, the winning horse given a second chance, inspired me to read The Horse Dancer. (The horse named Boo in the book reminded me of Senior Senator. )

Like all Moyes’ stories, this one has problems and romance, connecting unlikely lives for a happy ending.  When Sarah’s grandfather, a master horseman, has a stroke, the teenager tries to continue caring for herself and her horse Boo, but she is caught one night stealing fishsticks for her dinner.  Natasha, a lawyer recently separated from Mac, a photographer, saves her from jail and eventually offers her the safety of her house.  Although the story has a slow start, when the main characters finally  intersect, the drama improves.  Thrown back together by their mutual concern for Sarah, Natasha and Mac work through a series of obscure and unlikely issues but after a dramatic chase across the English Channel to a French riding school, all ends well, with everyone living happily ever after – even the horse.

Always by Sarah Jio

A quirky romance with a shaky love triangle –  I admit I did skip through and bypass most of the hand wringing episodes. But Jio’s love story kept me reading to find out who the heroine would pick – her first love who reappears as a homeless man twenty years after abandoning a successful career or the old monied handsome swain with a penchant for real estate.  Although most of the incidents seemed unrealistic, Always was a nice distraction.

Follow Your Heart by Susanna Tamaro

Olga is a dying Italian grandmother’s giving advice to her granddaughter through twelve letters, talking about her childhood, her marriage, her secrets, her lovers, her mistakes.  As she relives her experiences, Olga makes peace with herself and leaves her granddaughter with a story explaining who she is and why she acted as she did.  You need to be in the frame of mind for philosophy and a little angst, but this short epistolary gave me some interesting quotes.  Here is one from the last page:

Every time you feel lost, confused, think about trees, remember how they grow.  Remember that a tree with lots of branches and few roots will get toppled  by the first strong wind, while the sap hardy moves in a tree with many roots and few branches.  Roots and branches must grow in equal measure, you have to stand both inside of things and above them, because only then will you be able to offer shade and shelter, only then will you be able to cover yourself with leaves and fruit at the proper season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Books and Counting

Yes, I am still reading.  A few quick notes on some of the books:

Recent Publications

9780062469687_p0_v1_s192x300  The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler

If there is an opposite to chick lit, this is it.  A story about men, boys, Boy Scouts, coming of age, growing old – all men, but focused on a few – Wilbur, the Scout Master, who saves Nelson, the upright nerd, and Jonathan, an older boy who wavers between being the cool dude he wants to be and the righteous man of goodwill he tries not to be. A good story across generations with friendship among men as the angle.    And the author has the hallowed credential of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.

 Unknown-4  Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

So – is Ingrid, the mother, still alive?  Did she find the courage to swim away from her philandering husband who betrayed her with her best friend?  Did she leave the old coot English professor who used her secret fantasies to finally write his best seller?  Did she start a new life or end a desperate one? You decide.

Classics I Finally Got Around to:

Unknown-1  Remembering Laughter by Wallace Stegner

Reading Wallace Stegner’s first novel – Remembering Laughter – reminded me of how great an author he is.  The poignant story of two women continuing to live together after the younger one has an affair and gets pregnant with her sister’s husband.  Though short, the story had the same impact on me as his famous Crossing to Safety.  If you have never read Stegner, this is a good place to start.   If you know him, the reissue of his first book is a gift.

0031398233688_p0_v1_s192x300   Unknown-2 Genius and Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe

In the movie “Genius” with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, the editor Maxwell Perkins gleans the best from Thomas Wolfe’s manuscripts to produce the first two of his lengthy novels.  Jude Law plays the writer, Thomas Wolfe, but his contemporaries are just as fascinating – a clever F. Scott Fitzgerald moping over his wife’s debilitating depression and his subsequent inability to write, and Ernest Hemingway, gloriously manly as he is about to go off to war.  Maxwell Perkins was editor to them all.  I had read Ftizgerald and Hemingway, but never Thomas Wolfe and Perkins was a stranger to me.   Inspired by the movie, I am reading Look Homeward Angel with a long introduction by Maxwell Perkins.  Only ten pages into the 508 of the story, I am convinced Wolfe is the genius portrayed.

 

Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell

Poor Mrs. Bridge – she lived in her insular world, not knowing or caring to know what happened around her.  Republished in paperback to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, Connell’s depiction of a privileged white woman in the nineteen thirties has notes of women in the fifties, but sadly, her plight could be applied to some women today.  Written in short paragraphs and chapters, Mrs. Bridge slowly evolves but never really grows.  Pathetic in her ignorance, she protects herself from the world, sometimes wondering about issues she is never curious enough to pursue – lest they disturb her bubble.  Of course she is sad and unfulfilled, yet she never realizes she could do something about her life – why would she?

Now Reading

Unknown-5   The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes

9780385316576_p0_v2_s192x300   Follow Your Heart by Susanna Tamaro