Susan's Reviews > Horse Heaven

Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley
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's review
Jan 02, 09

bookshelves: animals, fiction, read-in-2009, friendship, borrowed-from-family, regrettable-reads
Read in January, 2009

Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley is a novel about horses and their breeders, owners, trainers, grooms, jockeys, traders, bettors and other turf-obsessed humans. It takes place over two-years and chronicles the lives of various horses and their people.

I know a little about horses - that is to say I've ridden horses, been to riding competitions, and been to the race track - but I still found this book particularly hard to get into. You see nothing ever happens, there is no real plot. The entire novel is much more a character epic, and the only redeemable characters are the horses. The horses are quirky and sensitive, and you become attached to them all and feel their ups and downs, their victories and defeats.

The book bounces from character to character, in a way that makes you assume that the stories will converge at some point, but they never really do. They are all loosely related by being in the racing world, but that's it. Every time I felt I had a handle on everyone in the book, Smiley added another set of characters - I couldn't keep up!

In conclusion, let me say this to you: if you enjoy plot-driven novels, this book it not for you; if you enjoy slow-moving character studies, you'll enjoy Horse Heaven. My advice is to read this book for the horses, because the humans will disappoint you every time.
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12/30/2008 page 14
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