July 9, 2009

Review: Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen

In a tragic accident that took the life of her precious horse Harry, world-class equestrian and Olympic hopeful Annemarie Zimmer was severely injured and as a result she gave up riding forever. Now eighteen years later she just got laid off and in the same day her daughter vows to drop out of school and her husband left her for another woman.

Tail tucked between her legs, Annemarie and her daughter Eva escape to her parent’s horse farm. But life on the horse farm is not a vacation. Her father is stricken with ALS and since her mother is tasked with taking care of him, Annemarie has to step up and become the farm’s manager. When the farm’s vet, who runs a horse rescue center, calls them with a possible addition to their horses, the family is packed up and they head over to take a look. Surprisingly the horse looks exactly like Harry and with just one glance Annemarie becomes obsessed to the point of running the farm into the ground to prove a point.

I loved this book and the story but OMG did I hate Annemarie’s character! She’s so tragic and does nothing but whine and act irrational throughout the whole book. The worst part of it is that in the audio book version, Maggi-Meg Reed does such a phenomenal narrating job that every bit of Annemarie’s impossibly irritating personality comes through loud and clear.

The best thing Riding Lessons has going for it is the fact that the ending is not a forced happily ever after. It’s completely realistic given Annemarie’s character and I appreciate the fact that it remained true to the end. This is a recommended read for contemporary fiction readers.

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Mary (Bookfan) said...

I read this a year or two ago and liked it. Followed it up with Flying Changes which continues the story. I liked that as much! Nice review.

Unknown said...

I have seen this book so many times but always passed on getting it. Now when I see it again I will have to buy it, it sounds just like a book would love to read right now, especially with the realistic ending.

bermudaonion said...

I didn't realize that this is by the author of Water for Elephants. Great review!

Toni said...

Sounds like a good story. I had seen this but forgot about it. Great review.

Cindy B.of Montana said...

It's interesting that you hated one of the characters and still loved the book. Seems like the story drummed up a lot of emotion!