Review of Horse by Geraldine Brooks

Book Review: Horse

By Geraldine Brooks


I went ahead and ordered the book without reading a synopsis or knowing the particulars of what it was about. It is simple, the title is “Horse” the author Geraldine Brooks, my current favorite historical fiction author. This decision was a no-brainer, I love horses, I have to read her story! When the book arrives, I am reading/slogging my way through a complicated heavy book that goes slowly. Many nights I fall asleep without making much headway. Horse waits patiently, its vibrant cover calling to me from across the room. It takes immense willpower and a couple of weeks to finally pick up Horse and begin. Within a few pages, I know I am destined to be overtired for a week as I will stay up too late reading this book.

The human characters of the book are introduced and then a foal. The characters grow as each chapter unfolds and the story deepens across time and place. Now we are into history and the power of Geraldine Brooks’s research pulls me as I marvel at the discoveries she found. Each historic fact is dropped like breadcrumbs on a trail that I am compelled to follow regardless of the hour I must rise tomorrow. Well into the book the horse’s name is changed and it all makes sense now. I know the story that is bursting out now. The foal is now a racing Thoroughbred whose name and record of speed and heart is etched in history and thousands of pedigrees.

I walk upstairs, the words of Geraldine Brooks’s book still swirl behind my eyes. In my bedroom, I turn on a light and stare at the horse portrait that hangs on the wall over my nightstand. The framed print has hung there to wish me goodnight and greet my mornings for forty-plus years. I thought I knew his story, now I understand his story beyond races to the history of America in the 1850-1860s. This compelling book is a marvel not just for a horse fanatic like me, This Horse is a story that will take a non-equestrian into the stables and tracks and school them.

The closing chapters of the book are tightly written as if holding back tears and the larger question WHY? The message reverberates in my mind.

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