Review: Jane Smiley - Secret Horse
Thank you to Faber for sending me a copy of this book.
Abby is simply not like that. As far as I can see, she does not even mention to any of her friends what is going on with Jack. She barely even discusses it with her parents, but watches and waits for the next development. Solve the mystery she does not. This habit of watchfulness is probably why she’s so good on a horse: she rides Black George by managing to let him get on with jumping, whilst restricting herself to placing the horse properly. It’s quite a surprise when Abby develops a fear of jumping once the jumps go past 4 feet.
"Of course, then I knew what was coming next. I was amazed I had been so dumb. Sooner or later - and if Dad had his way, sooner - my horse was going to be Sophia Rosebury's horse, and it didn't matter if she ever patted him or gave him a treat or even remembered his name (which she would certainly change, anyway). Dad squeezed me around the shoulders and we started walking back towards the truck and trailer, me leading Black George and Dad and Jane walking a little ahead of us. Hehad a beautiful face, Black George, with a quiet eye and quick ears - he flicked them back and forth in order to keep track of what was going on, but nothing worried him. His best feature was his mouth - smooth, long lips, just relaxed, because he didn't wrinkle them all the time. As we walked, I stroked his nose."
There are bits of prose you wreck if you start to pull them apart and comment on them, so I won't. There is plenty in this book which is just as beautifully done, but somehow it doesn't all pull together with quite the force of Nobody's Horse. Iwanted to love this book, but I can’t quite. Secret Horse lacks the dramatic pull of the first book, possibly because there’s less conflict between the characters and less to involve the reader. It’s a nearly book. Some of it is spellbinding.