A Sweeping Equestrian Journey

“You have to know that bigots are unwittingly handing you an edge. By thinking you’re lesser than they are, they underestimate you. Lean on that. Learn to use it, and you’ll get the upper hand.”
—Geraldine Brooks, Horse.

I’ve been a fan of Pulitzer Prize-winner Geraldine Brooks since reading her first novel, Year of Wonders. She once proves once again why she’s a household name with her novel Horse. Based on a true story, this journey weaves through centuries, tying together the lives of people separated by generations but connected by the legacy of a record-breaking thoroughbred named Lexington.

You’ll meet Jarret in the 1850s, bound by the chains of slavery, yet his bond with Lexington offers a poignant glimpse into the human-equine connection. Then there’s Martha, the 1950s gallery owner, whose love for horse paintings captures the mid-century art scene’s vibrancy. Jump to Jess, an osteologist (bone specialist) at the Smithsonian and Theo, the art history graduate student whose discovery of a long-lost painting in 2019 opens doors to a forgotten chapter of Lexington’s legacy.

Brooks sculpts characters with depth and intricacy and the way she braids multiple narratives together shows off her exceptional skill, although Martha’s narrative was less compelling than the others.

Her descriptions of rural Kentucky, New Orleans, and New York City are immersive. And the foreshadowing? She’s a master, dropping hints so subtly you’ll flip back pages to see what you missed.

It’s clear Brooks dove headfirst into a sea of research to bring authenticity to every element—from the ins and outs of horse racing to the intricacies of painting and the Smithsonian’s secrets. This novel stands as a testament to her dedication and intelligence as a writer. 4 stars (my book club’s average rating was 3.8).

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