Thursday, March 12, 2009

Riding Lessons, by Sara Gruen

Picked this up from a bargain table because "Water for Elephants" was so good. This one, not so much. The book starts out a lot like "The Horse Whisperer," in that a promising young woman and her amazing horse have a horrible accident, the horse has to be destroyed, and the girl breaks her neck requiring long months of hospitalization and rehab. Once out of the hospital, she never rides again.

That "back story" is dispatched in a few pages, then we get to the "real" story: now in her 30s, Our Heroine is let go from her job, her husband leaves her for his much younger intern, her daughter is all but expelled from school, and her mother calls to tell her that her father has ALS and only a few months to live.

Again, this is set forth in another few pages, and then we launch into the pity-party that is the rest of the book. Our Heroine (the book is written in first person, and I don't remember if she even has a name, much less what it is) takes her daughter and returns to her childhood home in New Hampshire at a horse ranch. Dad's disease is pretty advanced and she finds it hard to even look at him. She starts to take over running the ranch, and manages to get into serious financial trouble while simultaneously running afoul of the law. The horse that was destroyed 20+ years ago? Has a brother, who was supposedly burned to death in a barn fire. She recognizes him, buys him, tries to disguise him from insurance investigators, bounces all sorts of checks, avoids talking to her divorce lawyer, yadda yadda. . .

Frankly, I got tired of this book after the first few chapters, and skipped around to see if it was worth finishing. It wasn't. However, rest assured that Our Heroine finds true love, gets back on a horse, gets her daughter interested in horse training, and saves the farm. And the horse.

Yes, you say, but does she find old sheet music in the attic, and put on a show?

Life is too short to spend time on this book.

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