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Horse by Geraldine Brooks Book Review

Reasons For Reading This Book:

Horse by Geraldine Brooks was the last book of the year for 2022 for the Readheads Podcast Book Club. This is a monthly podcast book club that I have been apart of since it was established in 2020. I love getting to hear the thoughts of the hosts each month. 

Content of This Book:

In 1850 in Kentucky a colt is born is a well-known racing horse. This colt is raised by a enslaved groomer Jarret. Jarret spends his life caring for and raising this colt to be the best racehorse. This does not come without its challenges; the civil war, slavery and freedom, money, respect, and much more. One of the masters commissions a young artist to paint portraits of the racehorse. In 1954 in New York City art gallery owner Martha Jackson who is known for her unique choice in art becomes fixated on a nineteenth-century equine oil painting and the mystery behind it. In 2019 in Washington D.C. Jess an Australian Smithsonian Scientist and Theo an Nigerian-American art history build a relationship around a shared curiosity in horses. One is intrigued by the bone structure while the other wants to know about the less spoken about history of Black horsemen who played a critical role in the success of horse racing. Horse is based on the story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, this novel tells of the history, art, science, love and obsession of racing, and continued racism. 

What I Liked About This Book:

As spoken about on the podcast episode, the host either loved the storylines about the past or liked the storylines of the present. I preferred parts of storylines from both the past and the present. My favorite parts to read about were the training for the horse, races, the science of the bones, and the uncovering of the art pieces. I had story opinions on which characters' narration I enjoyed reading and which ones I did not. I liked Jess's narration a lot until the very end. I also really enjoyed most parts of Jarret's narration. Those really are the only two I really liked. You will read more about the others in the next section. As someone who is always seeking new things to learn about I really loved that I was able to read a book about a topic that I would not have chosen on my own because prior to reading this I had no real interest in horses and horse racing. I had general knowledge about it but came about with an opinion and lots of knowledge about its history. I really appreciated that the author was able to educator the reader about the history of horse racing both in the past and present narrations. Having the point of view of both time periods gave the reader a fuller picture of how it has evolved. 

What I Disliked About This Book:

The first thing that comes to mind is the vocabulary of this novel. I am so glad that I bought this book as an ebook because I was able to look up all the words that were new to me. That meant that I was looking up at least 5 words a page. As a reader this was really frustrating because it disrupted the flow of reading and ultimately did not help me learn new words that I could add to my vocabulary because there were so many I wasn't able to really learn them. In my opinion the use of so many uncommon words felt to me like the author was showing off and trying to prove something. As I talked about in the liked section I am going to share which narrators I did not like to read. Hands down Theo's chapters were my least favorite to read. I found him to be extremely sensitive, annoying, and a big complainer. I also found his contribution to the horse storyline to be weak. The reader already knew about who he was researching and then the facts were just reiterated in his chapters. I understand that one purpose of Theo's character was to show the continued racism in the United States, but I feel like it was portrayed in a way that first was really only an internal and personally issue for him and then was portrayed outwardly at the end. I won't go into detail about the ending but I personally have thought of a much better ending to his story then how the author ended it. Speaking of endings, I agreed with the Readheads that it was not necessary or beneficial to the plot to include COVID-19. I think we all have flashbacks from reading Our Country Friends and are all opposed to reading about the pandemic. I could keep going about what I disliked about this book. I will just say one last thing. The level of detail in this book was too much. It was excessive and added unnecessary length to this novel that just dragged out storylines that were not the interesting.

Would I Recommend This Book:

I gave this book 2 stars on iBooks and I feel like that was generous. From listening to the Readheads episode on this book I am in the minority. The other Readheads really enjoyed this book and gave it a much higher rating of a 4.2 stars. I would be very selective on who I would recommend this book to. I personally did not enjoy it but others have. I did learn a lot from this book but would not recommend it to anyone in my life who asks me for book recommendations. But to each their own and maybe you will really like it. 

Check out my book reviews for 2022!!

Check out my book reviews for 2021!!

Check out my book reviews for 2020!!

Check out my book reviews for 2019!!


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