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Riding Lessons

(Riding Lessons #1)

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  9,770 ratings  ·  1,130 reviews
As a world-class equestrian and Olympic contender, Annemarie Zimmer lived for the thrill of flight atop a strong, graceful animal. Then, at eighteen, a tragic accident destroyed her riding career and Harry, the beautiful horse she cherished. Now, twenty years later, Annemarie is coming home to her dying father's New Hampshire horse farm. Jobless and abandoned, she is bring ...more
Paperback, 387 pages
Published November 1st 2016 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2004)
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Showing 1-30
3.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,770 ratings  ·  1,130 reviews

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Terrie Shortsleeve
May 13, 2008 rated it did not like it
After I loved "Water for Elephants" I really thought this would be another great book. But, the main character was SO annoying. No one person could possibly be that incompetent in every area of their lives: marriage, parenting, relationship with her own parents, business, romance. She was a failure at everything and she never seemed to learn from her mistakes. Read "Water for Elephants" instead!!
May 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
I once had a gentleman friend extremely fond of the phrase, "Over the top," although he pronounced it, "Overrrr de TOPP," for reasons I won't go into.

In any case, that phrase recurred in my brain as I read this book. Gruen is a good writer, but an editor really needed to slap her hand away from the crisis button during the review of this book. I mean, the main character is getting divorced, barely on speaking terms with her parents, oh wait, her father is dying so that helps things in that scena
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So it was hard for me to like the main character, Annemarie Zimmer. Even a little bit. She’s self-centered, socially inept, and she flies off the handle at the slightest provocation. She’s a walking nightmare, and yet she’s not a complete lost cause. She does try, however miserably, and she always ends up failing, but there’s something to be said for effort, right?

There is something to be said for the tragic character, and in many respects that’s exactly what Annemarie is. And if it hadn’t been
Life is really too short to read books this damn dumb. When I pulled this book from my shelf and read the back cover I couldn’t remember why the hell I’d bought this book back in 2009. I’m guessing I’d just finished the author’s Water for Elephants and liked it enough to give another of her books a shot. Also, horses are involved and I’m a sucker for anything horse-related. Well, the horsey descriptions cannot make up for awkward writing, a moronic and odious heroine, and clunky romantic element ...more
Jul 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: horselovers everywhere!
I DEVOURED this book - from start to finish it took me about 3 days, and I'm almost through with its sequel. It's a new take on an old theme - horses, illegal activities, danger, mystery, romance, and riding, riding, riding! I couldn't tear my eyes away from the descriptions of the horses and the tack and the general horsey-life I left behind so many years before.

And I have to admit, as I read "Flying Changes", the sequel, I continue to have pangs of jealousy and regret at not reaching the leve
I could not stand Annemarie. She was snobby, selfish, unsympathetic, narcissistic and completely useless. Everything she said or did pissed me off. I have no idea whatsoever what Dan saw in her. On the plus side, the narrator of the audiobook did a fantastic job.
Nov 21, 2009 rated it did not like it
I really tried to muddle through this one but had to give up about 1/3 of the way through. I've had another Sara Gruen novel, Water for Elephants, highly recommended to me, but it'll take a lot of convincing to get me to read it after this one! (Not that anyone cares enough about this to try to convince me...:-)

To me, it read like one big cliche. Woman has horrible riding accident and loses beloved horse (which has an unusual white brindle pattern that was described as "striped" often enough to
Kerry (The Roaming Librarian) O'Donnell
Oct 15, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of the author
I was intrigued by this book, because I've heard such great things about the author (this is the lady who wrote Water for Elephants) and was curious as to her writing style. I ended up finding it a bit jarring, but perhaps I'm not used to the first person account (though I've never had this much of a problem with it before). The story itself was interesting, though some parts seemed a bit too easily fixed. What I mean by that is that the main character gets herself into soooooo much trouble and ...more
Kelsey Burnette
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
I loved Water for Elephants, and so decided to read another book by Sara Gruen. I'm certainly not giving up on her, but this book was nowhere near the quality. A lot of it I ended up just skimming because it was just so obvious and contrived. For example, the scene where the main character decides to make dinner for the new man in her life--of course, she can't cook but decides to make something incredibly complicated--and gee, what a surprise, she fails miserably, but she and her man end up hav ...more
Pretty close to making this a "DNF".
I picked it up because I loved the author's book "Like Water For Elephants"but this book is not bringing me that same level of enjoyment. I am not certain if it is the book or the person reading it, but I dislike both the main character Annemarie and her Daughter, Eva. Both seem to be in perpetual states of anger - shrieky anger. Some of that may be the person reading who, the actress is just driving me up a wall. Everything is overdramatic.
Annemarie and her
Jul 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura Kilmartin
Nov 25, 2010 rated it liked it
I was torn while reading this book because I found the main character thoroughly unlikeable. Every action she took was so obviously a plot device - I could see the consequences of her bad judgment coming a mile away and thought it was unbelievable and insulting to the reader that a character would act in such an obviously illogical manner. That said and main character aside, the writing itself was phenomenal. I sat up until 1am this morning finishing the book because I just didn't want to put it ...more
Feb 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
When I saw that Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants, had other works, I was excited. I really enjoyed Water, and had high hopes for this book, the first of a two-part series. Uggh, what a disappointment . . .

In Riding Lessons, we meet Annemarie Zimmer, a former Olympic-class equestrian competitor whose tragic accident twenty years prior ruined her career. She is now 38 and her life is falling apart. At first you may feel pity for her as she loses her job, her teenage daughter gets expelled
Mar 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a book you'll either love or hate. I haven't seen a reader review that was lukewarm...either the book was highly praised or villified.

I really liked it. I thought Annemarie Zimmer was a wonderful character. She is so completely self-absorbed and in dire need of a good therapist. I found her absolute inability to cope with life hysterical (and her inner self-talk is downright funny...especially her first cooking-for-the-new-boyfriend date with Dan.)

On the more serious side, Annemarie has
Caitlin Maxwell
May 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people who like horse stories with some angst and romance mixed in
Honestly, I thought that this book was terrible. I sincerely hope that Water for Elephants is nothing like this, because if it is, I have no clue how it became a bestseller.
The main character is what did it for me. I was expecting to read about a mom who, yes, was going through difficulties with her family, daughter, etc, but who still had some backbone at least. Annemarie definitely did not display anything like that, throughout the whole novel. She was no better than a teenager, and honestly,
Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2008, fiction
I read this because I'd loved Water for Elephants SO MUCH that I felt an overwhelming need to read other things written by the author. On the plus side, I can say that it's obvious that Gruen has grown tremendously as a writer, because Elephants
Samantha (WLABB)
Me and women's fiction don't always work, because it tends to be heavier than I like, and I think that was one of the problems with this book. This woman just kept taking the hits, and at first, I was sympathetic, but then her bitterness began to wear on me. Maybe if there had been some more levity built in the story as she unpacked her baggage, I would have kept being on Anne Marie's side, but it was tough. She eventually did have her moment of enlightenment, but it was really late in the story ...more
Jul 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: chicklit, horses, animals
*re-reading 10/12*

oh, horses. i do love them. the writing stood up, which was nice to see. i love the idea of harry, of eve and flicka . . . mutti and - i wish there was more resolution with regards to annemarie and pappa. i still didn't like how that ended. i don't feel like there was peace. i wanted her to bring him to the stall with his carrots. i liked jean-phillipe better.

of course, i went out and rode my horse after finishing this. someday he might be balanced enough to complete even a tr
Beth Cato
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horse, in, 2009, no-longer-own
I bought this book because I loved Water for Elephants, but I think my expectations were too high.[return][return]I was horse-obsessed as a kid. This is a book about a woman who loves horses, and who lost her beloved horse in a tragic accident 20 years before and is still living with the consequences. It sounds like a good match. However, the heroine, Annemarie, is completely unlikeable. She's mean, petty and selfish, and drags everyone down with her. Her husband leaves her for another woman, sh ...more
Mar 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: other-fiction
Book #21 o 2009
What can I say... I was reading the book and enjoying it and then I just had to go on Amazon to see what the other reviews said and once I read those, that's all I could think about when I went back to reading it. But - what I did like: the imagery. Chapter after chapter I could picture the horses, the barns, the riding lessons, the tack room, the stalls... I even imagined the trainer to look like the one I had in High School. In one of the chapters, describing a riding lesson, I
probably would've rated less if i wasn't such a sucker for all the horse prose. of which there wasn't even ask that much. Annemarie's constant overwroughtness makes her a less than ideal narrator and makes it difficult for a reader to really absorb/process each of the problems she's got going on (kid, horse, divorce, new relationship, dying parent, failing family business, identity crisis, the whole book with the exception of her scenes with her mother feels like someone running around with thei ...more
Jun 27, 2009 rated it liked it
For me, the redeeming quality of this book was found in the horses. Gruen's portrayal of equine characters through the eyes of the human MC was authentic and spot-on.
If nothing else, she did butt-loads of research -- but I'd like to step out on a limb (without knowing anything about the author) and venture a guess that she has at some point spent a less-than-healthy amount of time around the animals (in the opinion of a sane individual, which I am not). Having done so myself, the quality of the
Sep 10, 2010 rated it did not like it
Oye. I loved Water for Elephants, so thought picking up another book by Sara Gruen would be a safe bet. What a disappointment. The story was totally implausible, the main character was extremely and unbearably annoying, and despite the mess that the main character made of everything, POOF! It was all fixed by the end of the book. The main character annoyed me so much that I didn't want her problems to be fixed. I had an uncomfortable feeling of almost wanting her to fail (which is very unlike me ...more
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I recently lost two afternoons of potential farm work due to a fabulous gut-wrencher of a horsey novel: Riding Lessons, by Sara Gruen.

Sara is much more famous for Water for Elephants, her New York Times bestseller. I never got around to reading it and all six of the local copies were checked out, so I suppose it’s still quite popular.

But this book – oh, it is unapologetic in its horsiness. She could have dumbed it down and made it a bestseller, perhaps, and I love her so much for keeping it tech
Mrs. Clay
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I was drawn to this book because of two topics: horses and romance. The fact that the main character was close to my age was a bonus, and I was delighted that the author seemed to have an extensive knowledge of competitive riding due to such detailed descriptions involving the care and riding of horses. For about 70% of the book, I was drawn into Annemarie's life and its many complications. Yes, it seemed at times that things were unraveling, but just as she stated, sometimes life is like watchi ...more
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At the risk of bringing a hellstorm of fire and feminism down upon my head, Sara Gruen demonstrates a tremendous grasp of the best and worst aspects of the male and female genders. I did not like Annemarie Zimmer, the main character. She is not a bad person. But she possesses the same personality flaws that many of the past women in my life have possessed to varying degrees. She's manipulative, excessively emotional (and thus illogical), vindictive, and impossibly stressful to interact with on a ...more
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Let me start by saying I basically enjoyed this book even though it hit a raw nerve for me. I know conflict is what keeps a story alive, but it seemed that many of the plot twists were contrived for this purpose. The protagonist’s clever and witty interior monologue often made me smile, but her actions were often frustrating. I am not being a spoiler by letting you know the character’s father was suffering form ALS. This is revealed in the first three chapters that set up the rest of the story. ...more
Mar 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
I am an avid equestrian (specifically, an eventer, which the protagonist purports to have been) and the actual errors regarding horse sport and horse care overrode any interest in the story for me. I couldn't take the lead character seriously when her actions were driven by her angst rather than, for instance, the best interest of the horses in her charge.

I was unable to finish this book, which is disappointing as I had heard it was written by a knowledgeable horseperson.
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Read for the 2018 Popsugar! Reading Challenge for the category "A book about or involving a sport," in this case, horseback riding.

Hated the heroine. She is determined to not only destroy her own life (which, yes, some shitty stuff happened to her and she got into a spiral; I'll give her that one) but the lives of everyone around her (which I will not give her).
Loved it! This book made me cry so many times, but I absolutely adored the story.
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The "Water for Elephants" author.... 4 78 May 25, 2014 12:35PM  
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Sara Gruen is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of five novels: AT THE WATER'S EDGE, APE HOUSE, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, RIDING LESSONS, and FLYING CHANGES. Her works have been translated into forty-three languages, and have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. WATER FOR ELEPHANTS was adapted into a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon, Rob Pattinson, and Christ ...more

Other books in the series

Riding Lessons (2 books)
  • Flying Changes (Riding Lessons, #2)
“I was always searching, always seeking the next big thing, because that was the thing that was going to make everything all right again. And while I was working toward it, it gave me something to think about other than that thing I couldn't put my finger on. But it always came back.” 7 likes
“The longer I do this job, the less I like people. The species, of course,” he adds grimly. “There are individuals I like just fine.” 2 likes
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