April 21, 2021

A Horse, of course

For some reason, I have been drawn to books where horses figure prominently. I made a short list of outstanding books to satisfy my equine literary mania.

Everything that John Steinbeck wrote is worth a read, but The Red Pony stands as a classic novella that appeals to middle and high school students. Actually four loosely related vignettes, the simple yet elegant prose can be appreciated by adults as realistic American literature.

Anna Sewell’s classic Black Beauty, is a short novel that’s earned a place as one of the best-sellers of all time with 50 million copies sold and a famous movie with Elizabeth Taylor based on the book.  With a theme of animal welfare, the book teaches us to treat both two-legged and four-legged creatures with kindness and respect.

Absolutely new to me was Coal Black Horse, a novel by Robert Olmstead set during the American Civil War. Robey Childs, a fourteen year old is tasked by his mother with bringing back his father from the fighting. The boy’s big black companion is by far the more seasoned of the two when they set out. Part war novel and coming-of-age account, Coal Black Horse joins the list of well-written equine-centric fiction.

Originally a Nordic classic, Out Stealing Horses is written by Norwegian Per Petterson. A 70-year-old man tells his neighbor about a fateful event involving horses when he was a teenager. The memory evokes revelations about the two older men and their parents.

War Horse has been justifiably immortalized on stage and screen, but don’t miss out on reading the original 1982 novel by Michael Morpurgo.  Another short work aimed at younger readers, the novel depicts an English horse being sent to serve in World War I in France. His young original owner endeavors to bring him back to the family farm in Birmingham, England.

Although not a work of fiction, Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand has entered the cannon of notable books starring horses. Her fine writing describes the life of an under-rated racehorse during the turbulent time leading up to World War II.

Now where did I put that schedule for the Arlington Racetrack……..

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