Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Getting It Right

. . . Makes for a Good Read

I love it when writers of horse books get it right—when they demonstrate a knowledge of horses and horsemanship.

The worst horse book I ever read was this one, in which a novice jockey ran his first race in the Kentucky Derby and tied with an elderly woman jockey who hadn’t ridden for several years but just happened to have her jockey silks in her vehicle, and—I can’t go on. The book was just too dreadful.

I’ve read another book, which I actually liked, by an author who has a home on the lake. I believed the suspense and intrigue surrounding a woman who’d won a rigged lottery, but I didn’t believe that—while escaping a dangerous situation—she put her horse in a stall at a strange barn (unattended) and left it for two days.

I'm suspicious of books in which horses gallop all day and require no food or grooming, where ladies (in period costume) are forever vaulting unassisted into their sidesaddles and galloping away, where riders can gallop bareback down a steep hill while carrying a newborn infant in one arm and luggage in the other, etc. I’ve read books like that and cringed when I read the absurd scenes.

I loved Sara Gruen’s Riding Lessons and Flying Changes because she got it right. I loved Richard Adams’ Traveller because it was written from the viewpoint of Robert E. Lee’s horse as he told the story of his life to a barn cat.

I love Gigi Amateau’s new book, Chancey of the Maury River, because she writes from the horse’s viewpoint and because she—as a horseperson—gets it right. Her protagonist, an elderly albino Appaloosa with health problems, reflects on his life and how he found his purpose. The plot could easily be depressing, but it isn’t. Chancey’s story is one of hope and inspiration. The theme is universal: One must find one’s true purpose in life.

Her style (Chancey’s?) is lovely and lyrical and loaded with equine philosophy. Anyone who’s ever owned and loved a horse knows the truth of these statements directly from the horse’s mouth:

Horses can detect truth easily because truth is conveyed with not only words, but also with body and heart. (p. 66)

I have observed, on multiple occasions, that people and their animal friends occasionally reflect one another physically and often also in manner. (p. 75)

I will take heart and loving-kindness over technical ability any day of the week—for a rider with an open heart allows the fullest possible joining up, whether galloping over the Maury River, slowly walking a figure eight, or merely standing in my room watching the blue mountains. (p. 184)

And there are more. The book is targeted to readers ages ten to fourteen. However, it’s just as appealing—and perhaps more so—to us sixty-somethings who have loved horses all our lives—especially to us sixty-somethings who have an elderly horse in our back yard, a horse we’d never dream of selling.

I talked to the author last April when we were in a long line together for the restroom at the Richmond Public Library. She was one of the panelists at the SCBWI meeting, and she discussed her up-coming book. While we waited in line, we talked horses. I couldn’t wait to read her book when it came out.

Chancey of the Maury River was worth the wait.


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Blogger Amy Tate said...

I had forgotten that it was released this month. I'll have to check that one out.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

Oh, you must read, "The God of Animals," by Aryn Kyle--I think that's how you spell it. I never read one so on the mark.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

I bought The God of Animals two months ago! It's in my queue to be read (as soon as I finish Salem Falls)

10:54 PM  

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