Carl Brush's Reviews > Riding Lessons

Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen
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May 15, 12

Read in June, 2010

And then another trusted friend let me down. TC Boyle made a Riven Rock a testimony to grim fixations. Sarah Gruen, she of the superb Water For Elephants has chosen an hysterical adolescent in the body of an adult woman to carry the water for her Riding Lessons, but she can’t handle the job, and the reader stays thirsty. To complete the adolescent theme, the problems of Riding Lesson’s imaginary world are solved largely through the love and pursuit of horses. You can call it character that happens to be played out in an equestrian motif, but this is more of a juvenile romance than a real literary effort, and far beneath the talents of my Water for Elephants heroine.

Annemarie Zimmer is a cliché in word as well as action: “I am such an idot” she says at least three times. And truth be told, she is an idiot, messing up and betraying her family in so many ways through her, again, adolescent self-indulgence that this reader, at least, had lots of trouble working up any sympathy at all for her. I thank Gruen for distracting couple of hours on a long flight, but as for a high quality literary experience? Not this one.

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