Thursday, 6 February 2014

PBOTD: 6th February - Jane Smiley, Nobody's Horse

Jane Smiley won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for A Thousand Acres, and in 2006 was awarded the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature, and she's now writing a series of children's horse stories, all of which rather gives the lie to the assumption that all horse stories, being genre fiction, must therefore be bad.

Alfred Knopf, first edition, 2009
The Georges and the Jewels (2009) was the first of the series. All the books have been retitled in the UK in their Faber editions. Why, I'm not quite sure. 

The series is set in the 1960s, with a heroine in Abby Lovitt who experiences all too frequently the lot of the child of a horse dealer: the horses she gets fond of are sold. In an effort to avoid getting too fond of the horses, or perhaps simply because it's easier when you have so many horses washing in and out of your stables, Abby's father calls all the geldings George, and the mares Jewel. Abby, to a certain extent, accepts this until a particularly difficult horse appears.

There is something about him that touches something in Abby, and this generally passive and watchful child becomes far more attached to the difficult George than is wise for a girl in her situation. 

UK edition, Faber 2010

There isn't a pat ending in this first story, and it's all interwoven with Abby's school career, and her sometimes less than ideal relationships.

The Georges and the Jewels was first published in American by Alfred Knopf in 2009. The UK edition was published by Faber in 2010, as a paperback, under the title Nobody's Horse.

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For more on Jane Smiley's horse books, see her page on my website.

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