Nov/Dec Selection: The Hearts of Horses
By Molly Gloss
A breakout novel from the author of The Jump-Off Creek, the heartwarming story of a determined young woman with a gift for “gentling” wild horses. In the winter of 1917, when a young woman shows up at his doorstep looking for work breaking horses, George Bliss hires her on. Many of his regular hands are off fighting the war, and he glimpses, beneath her showy rodeo garb, a shy but feisty 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 man’s world. At the time, it was thought that the only way to break a horse was to “buck the wild out of him,” but when the ranchers in this remote county of Eastern Oregon witness Martha talking in sweet tones to horses believed beyond repair -- and getting miraculous results -- she earns a place of respect in the community. Along the way, she helps a family save their horses when their wagon slides into a ravine; she gentles a horse for a dying man -- a last gift to his young son; she clashes with a hired hand who is abusing horses in unspeakable ways; and gradually, she comes to feel enveloped by a sense of belonging and family she’s 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 the connections between and among people and animals and how they touch one another in the most unexpected and profound ways. Fans of Kent Haruf and Leif Enger will fall adore this gentle, lovely novel.
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