Book Review: Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen

A stunning new voice in American fiction, Sara Gruen makes a masterful debut with a novel of family, tragedy, rebirth … and the breathtaking love of something wild.

As a world-class equestrienne 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, her beloved and distinctively marked horse.

Now, twenty years later, Annemarie is coming home to her dying father’s New Hampshire horse farm. Jobless and abandoned, she is bringing her troubled teenaged daughter to this place of pain and memory, where ghosts of an unresolved youth still haunt the fields and stables — and where hope lives in the eyes of the handsome, gentle veterinarian Annemarie loved as a girl … and in the seductive allure of a trainer with a magic touch.

But everything will change yet again with one glimpse of a red and white striped gelding startlingly similar to the one Annemarie lost in another lifetime. And an obsession is born that could shatter her fragile world.

Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen is an emotional story that takes you down several different paths. It takes you down the what might have been and the what could be path with Annemarie Zimmer. Once a promising eventer on the way to the fast track to the Olympics, that all came to an end in a horrific accident. Annemarie almost lost the ability to walk, move and most of all she lost the horse love of her life Harry. Twenty years later her world starts to fall a part at the seams again with the loss of her job and the end of her marriage and it sends her home. Memories of her beloved horse fill her and consume her when another rare brindle patterned horse comes into her life.

As someone who has been a rider since I can remember I connected with this story on so many levels. I could understand her deep love of Harry. I can understand the basic feelings she had when she walked into a barn, her love of the smell of hay, manure and horse. When Annemarie went up to a horse and pushed her nose to its neck I smiled because I have done that exact same thing many times. Annemarie seems to have her life closing in on her, she has to deal with her past while being hit with a lot of new things that are part of life and difficult. Having to handle a teenage Daughter and the upcoming death of her Father.

This is really a great book that is both emotional and inspirational. There was not any character that I did not like. I could in some way relate to most of them. I would recommend this one to any reader.

My Gemstone Rating:


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