Heartsofhorses I’ve been a bit disappointed that the very good reviews for Molly Gloss’s latest thrillingly great novel, The Hearts of Horses, haven’t seemed to recognize the full achievement of the book. I feel it is being marginalized a bit as a Western–which it is–when it’s also deserving of a much broader audience.

In this week’s Washington Post Book World, Ron Charles nails my feelings about this novel in a lovely, insightful review that winds up thus:

That sounds corny, but there isn’t a false move in this poignant novel, which demonstrates as much insight into the hearts of men and women as into the hearts of horses. Books like this are easy to overlook, but there’s someone on your holiday list who will feel blessed by Gloss’s gentle story.

Read the whole review and then seek out this wonderful book.

5 thoughts on “Finally”

  1. I included it in my column this month as I think it’s a great novel for teens as well as adults. I also sent copies to my mother and my great aunt & uncle, all of whom like a good read.
    It seems almost old-fashioned or inadequate to say a book is simply, blissfully, “Good”, doesn’t it? But that was what I thought of “Hearts” – it was just one flat-out good read.
    Loved it – so glad to see all the love headed its way from other quarters as well.

  2. I somehow missed your review during my Web-iatus. I definitely think it’s a great read, but I’m not so sure about the teen-appeal. I could see some teens reading it, but I could see others getting bogged down in some of the darker, more adult story lines; I’ve been describing it as “something any horsey girl grown up will love,” although I would disavow the horsey girl part if pressed and widen the demo. I do hope you’re right and I’m wrong though, and that teenagers would love it and get into the community life. Regardless, it’s a remarkable book, and if you haven’t read Wild Life YOU MUST.

  3. I was thinking of teens who have an interest in western history – living in the west for more than a decade I’ve noticed that while there are a million westerns (cowboy novels one and all) there are not that many written around the 20th century west, which Gloss captures so well. Also, I read every single Louis L’Amour novel when I was in high school, right behind my brother. I couldn’t help but think that there are horse/western captivated teens who will maybe pick this one up for only those reasons and then enjoy the longer, richer story involved.
    I don’t know – heck if we want them to read Shakespeare and Austen in high school it seems like “Hearts of Horses” would be just fine! ha! (I’m not directing the column wholly to standard teen fare anymore – trying to review YA books but also throw in some curveballs like this one or even a picture book that I think teens will miss completely but some will enjoy.)
    I will pick up Wild Life – just added to post-Xmas Powells wish list!

  4. Well, I can completely see that — and I do think you’re probably right that a lot of readery teens would really like it. I mostly still hope that it gets the wider audience it deserves, both adults and teens!

  5. “Hearts of Horses” is the choice for our next book discussion club meeting, so I read it in December. I had horses when I was a teenager in the late forties and early fifties here in Texas, and while I never broke one, I was fascinated with Martha’s methods and with the personalities of the horses as the narrator described them, not in a cartoon fashion but in the relationship with a woman who patiently tried to gain their trust. The influence of WWI gave the story depth, but the characters in Martha’s “circle,” (a concept I’d never heard of before) were what kept me reading. Martha’s growth through their problems was beautiful. The details of the man’s death from cancer were especially poignant, as well as the devastation from alcoholism and the loss of sons in war. I was happy when Martha found happiness in the love of a man.

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