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[ read online ] The Hearts of HorsesAuthor Molly Gloss –

This Breakout Novel From The Author Of The Jump Off Creek Tells The Heartwarming Story Of A Determined Young Woman With A Gift For Gentling Wild Horses In The Winter Of , A Big Boned Young Woman Shows Up At George Bliss S Doorstep She S Looking For A Job Breaking Horses, And He Hires Her On Many Of His Regular Hands Are Off Fighting The War, And He Glimpses, Beneath Her Showy Rodeo Garb, A Shy But Strong Willed Girl With A Serious Knowledge Of Horses So Begins The Irresistible Tale Of Nineteen Year Old Martha Lessen, A Female Horse Whisperer Trying To Make A Go Of It In A Man S World It Was Thought That The Only Way To Break A Horse Was To Buck The Wild Out Of It, And Broken Ribs And Tough Falls Just Went With The Job But Over Several Long, Hard Winter Months, Many Of The Townsfolk In This Remote County Of Eastern Oregon Witness Martha S Way Of Talking In Low, Sweet Tones To Horses Believed Beyond Repair And Getting Miraculous, Almost Immediate Results And She Thereby Earns A Place Of Respect In The Community Along The Way, Martha Helps A Family Save Their Horses When Their Wagon Slides Into A Ravine She Gentles A Horse For A Dying Man A Last Gift To His Young Son She Clashes With A Hired Hand Who Is Abusing Horses In Unspeakable Ways Soon, Despite Her Best Efforts To Remain Aloof And Detached, She Comes To Feel Enveloped By A Sense Of Community And Family That She S Never Had Before With The Elegant Sweetness Of Plainsong And A Pitch Perfect Sense Of Western Life Reminiscent Of Annie Dillard, The Hearts Of Horses Is A Remarkable Story About How People And Animals Make Connections And Touch Each Other S Lives In The Most Unexpected And Profound Ways

10 thoughts on “The Hearts of Horses

  1. says:

    I met Molly Gloss when I was in high school in Eastern Oregon, the setting for her beautiful novel, The Jump off Creek She was a local hero for the simple reason that she wrote about our world, our hills, our familiar tamarack forests and sagebrush, our quiet people and the lives they lead In a state best known for Portland and the accessibility of natural wonder to the urban I 5 corridor, it was a refreshing bit of acknowledgment to see real published art showing an interest in and sensitivity to the rural eastern expanse of the state.Not to wax too nostalgic I didn t like growing up there To me, the hills were beautiful, boring boundaries carefully dividing my sheltered little town from the weird, varied world I knew existed outside the valley People were mean, and small minded, and often simple and hateful I was mocked until I got too strange, and then I was just feared stupid, superficial things like purple hair and noserings became metaphysical symbols of all that the down home culture despised, and they made damn sure I knew it.It is odd, then, that a book like this should come along a tender, honest portrait of a small community in Eastern Oregon, not directly inside the valley where I lived, but near by a county or two, which in rural terms means practically the same place and completely break my heart Never have I had so much longing for a thing I never loved.First of all, don t judge a book by its cover No, really Never in a thousand years would I have chosen to read something with a golden sunset and a girl on horseback silhouette Hell, I even try to avoid anything with the word heart in the title, unless it s closely followed by darkness If you can t get past it, I recommend wrapping the book in a plain brown wrapper and pushing on through, because if you don t, you will miss one of the interesting examinations of small town life, and with it, a young female hero demonstrating perfectly that role models don t need to be princesses, warriors, or ravishingly beautiful to be strong and, importantly, real.

  2. says:

    I d call this book almost a sequel to Monte Walsh by Jack Schaefer, and I consider Monte Walsh one of the perfect novels The writing is superb, in that run on raconteur style that feels like the easy canter of a horse It s 1917, and young Martha Leeson leaves home to become an itinerant bronco buster, only she s a horse whisperer instead and she doesn t get that far from home, either.This book works on so many levels, I hardly know where to begin It s a book about World War I at home, it s a book about coming of age, it s a book about the loss of the American west, it s about the failed government program to settle the West with farmers, it s about the American cowboy, only this time she s a girl The circle ride is a terrific device for telling not only Martha s story but the stories of all the ranchers and farmers for whom she is breaking horses, not to mention a look through Gloss s eyes at the loneliness and beauty of the eastern Oregon landscape.But mostly this is a story about Martha, a young woman from an abusive home who is so lonely and unsocialized for lack of a better word that she literally doesn t know what people mean when they speak to her As she breaks the horses, so does the community gentle her into being one of their own.This would be a terrific book club book.

  3. says:

    What a surprise The cover is so off putting, along with the title, that if it hadn t been given to me from the library just before I got on a plane with nothing else to read I probably wouldnt have looked at it twice It s fabulous There is none of the sappy, over emotionalized nonsense you might expect from a book about a woman who gentles horses in the early years of WWI Instead, it s very well written, with deep, extremely real characters in whom humanity truly exists Molly Gloss takes the reader on a little expedition through the hearts and minds of the people in Eastern OR farming and ranching in a time of universal upheaval which would continue until, quite possibly, nowadays But at the same time these people are going through birth, death, love, cruelty, honesty and dishonesty and muddling their way along in the eternal way of things Being a somewhat secret lover of horses myself I appreciated the subject matter, and particular liked the way Gloss addressed it without sentimentalism or anthropomorphising the horses What a lovely book

  4. says:

    It s too bad about the title and cover This is a lovely work of literary historical fiction, which happens to feature a protagonist who trains horses, but which neither anthropomorphizes nor is sentimental about them Really it s a story about the hearts of humans how they live together and love one another It s the first winter of America s involvement in WWI, and the shy but tough 19 year old Martha Lessen arrives in a rural Oregon county looking for work Which she finds gentling horses for eight local families this allows the author to dip into many lives, with a strong sense of compassion and understanding of people and relationships.So Martha is the protagonist, and hers is a fairly standard though well told story of finding community and love after a rough childhood But she s also the catalyst for other characters stories, which occupy just as much of our time There s the German couple ostracized by many of their neighbors they are German in that his family immigrated from there, and she married him There s the woman who splits wood to feed her three young children and alcoholic husband There s the educated farmer dying of cancer which at the time had no real treatment and the stalwart wife who must confront the reality of his illness and death every day.This is a very well written book, told in a measured, contemplative way when there is excitement, the book is interested in how the characters manage their situations and how those situations affect them than in action for its own sake The omniscient narrator drops into the heads of various characters in a natural way, and also fills us in on local history and on the times Writing 90 years later during another overseas war, the author seems particularly interested in the culture of wartime America.Overall, this is a wise, warm and observant character driven novel with social commentary Be warned that it takes awhile to get going I wasn t hooked until somewhere between pages 50 and 75 But it was well worth the investment, and I enjoyed it as much as Gloss s stand out epistolary novel, Wild Life, though they are very different books I look forward to reading of her work soon.

  5. says:

    I never would have looked twice at this book, had I not heard the author speak at MPIBA Her speech, though it had nothing to do with the book, was impressive enough and I heard enough people saying they couldn t put the book down that I had to give it a chance If the following description doesn t sound like your normal cup of tea, just know that it isn t mine, either And yet.The story takes place in the American West at the beginning of the first World War, when the young men were just starting to be sent away from the farms The main character is a woman who makes her living moving from town to town breaking horses The back of the galley copy says that the book is about a woman trying to make her way in a man s world, or something, but it isn t about that at all It is about the simple strength and courage of the families and individuals living in that very particular place and time The story is quiet and unassuming, no fireworks, just people trying to get by It s like a less dramatic John Steinbeck Sort of No offense to Steinbeck, whom I love I know that doesn t sound very exciting, but, as I said, I was very much taken by surprise and felt compelled to read the entirety of this book that is completely outside of my normal reading habits And that, I think, says a good deal for the story, the characters, and the author Chris C

  6. says:

    Well, it s been proven you can still write a novel with an omniscient narrator I don t pretend that setting it in the historical past the U.S homefront during WWI doesn t help, but it can obviously still be done, and done well.Apart from settling that debate, The Hearts of Horses is an enjoyable read, page turning than its quiet, even tempered tone would initially give you cause to guess It may prompt you to chuckle in company, and, when pressed, explain lamely, Just horses being horses It gives you a sense of these animals, these people, and even this country, even though they are invented from hoof to hillock It s a beautiful trip you ll be glad to have taken.

  7. says:

    This is an absolutely amazing book It takes place over a six month period from the fall of 1917 through the spring of 1918 in cattle country in Oregon It s a wonderful story of a shy young woman, at home with horses than people, who comes into the valley to offer to break horses for various farmers and ranchers And, of course, it is the story of those ranchers and farmers that she meets.Even with the background of the war and of the surfacing of human meanness, this is a gentle book and a fun one.Many of the characters reminded me of family and friends I grew up with after all, my grandfather still used horses on his farm in a limited way before he moved off the farm in the early 1950s.

  8. says:

    It would not be overstating things to say this book was a joy to read I adored every minute with it, so much so that I had to dole it out to myself in nibbles because I just didn t want it to end It s one of those books I love too much to write any kind of review of, so I ll just try to sensibly state what spoke to me about it.Martha Lessen A great, big boned, awkward girl of a character, and I loved her I loved her quiet confidence with the horses, I loved her insecurity with the bipedal world, I loved her growth through the story, and I loved her authentic concern for the people she did interact with.The horses They are like people, but better, and Martha gets that The writing The evocation of the land, the West, the era, the smell of the leather and the horse sweat and the pines It s like someone took all my favorite things in the world and smashed them into a book together just for me I want to put all my other books on hold right now and read everything that Molly Gloss has written.

  9. says:

    This is a lovely, quiet book that reminds me of the late, great Kent Haruf s gems, and if that isn t sufficient praise, I don t know what is The time and place are an important part of the story as well as the wonderful cast of characters

  10. says:

    Books about horses join a stable of well loved titles foaled by Black Beauty in 1877 Over the years, Anna Sewell s only novel, which she called the autobiography of a horse, has sold than 50 million copies, and recent titles, such as Nicholas Evans s The Horse Whisperer, Laura Hillenbrand s Seabiscuit and Jane Smiley s Horse Heaven, have kept readers stampeding to the bookstore.I don t know if Molly Gloss s lovely new novel will spur such intense interest, but I hope so The Hearts of Horses is set in northeastern Oregon in 1917, the twilight of the Old West when that way of life was already legendary The story begins, as such legends must, with a mysterious figure riding into view on a badly scarred mare But Gloss immediately begins to transform these worn conventions This stranger is 19 year old Martha Lessen, the first girl anyone in these parts had seen advertising herself as a broncobuster Since most of the young men who worked these farms have headed off to the war in Europe, Martha is looking for horses that needed breaking out She sets aside her natural bashfulness long enough to tell a skeptical rancher, I can gentle most anything that has four feet and a tail That s a fair description of this author s ability, too Although a strong feminist impulse runs through the story, it s been expertly gentled Martha has no sense that she s part of any movement toward gender equality, but she looks like Calamity Jane, and Gloss notes that in her childhood daydreams she was always a boy Even now, she liked it better when the men seemed to forget she was a girl And so she has left her abusive father to live a footloose cowboy life and see the places she d read about in Western romances She asks only for space in a barn, sleeping on a bed she sewed from a wool blanket and an old fur rug With a candle to read a few pages of Black Beauty before falling off to sleep, she s got all she needs.Gloss helps us understand just how radical this young woman s method is at a time when animals were beaten and tortured sometimes to death in the name of taming them Plenty of men thought nothing of being rough with horses, she writes A horse had to have his spirit entirely broken was what a lot of men thought, had to be beaten into abject submission By that violent standard, what Martha does with a bucking chestnut seems like doing nothing at all singing almost inaudibly for hours, brushing the horse with her hands, walking slowly around a field But the proof is in her remarkable results, derived from a deep sensitivity to these giant animals Before long, she s signed on with seven clients in a 15 mile circuit, riding and training horses from one farm to the next each day.That work plan also provides the novel s structure, which allows Gloss to move through these interconnected families, developing their separate dramas as she watches Martha grow into a cherished member of the community The ranch families start to care for and depend on her she carries news and mail from one farm to the next We gradually sink into their hopes and fears just as Martha does, with startling, intimate glimpses into the loneliness some of these people endure The fever of patriotism is already warping the landscape and shattering old friendships Among the novel s most harrowing moments are scenes involving a young father dying of cancer at a time when the only available treatment was stoic endurance Any one of these quiet but intense chapters is worth the price of the book.The plot doesn t move so much as accrete, in the way that Kent Haruf and Ivan Doig manage to do in their novels, full of the wisdom of well lived ordinary lives Yes, the risk of dullness haunts stories like these, but when it works the subtle rhythm of one scene after another, with touches of warmth and humor and compassion there s something deeply satisfying about it.Ever so slowly, Martha notices the attentions of a plainspoken farmhand named Henry, who works for two old spinsters, sisters who are unconcerned by convention, riding cross saddle along with their cowboys exactly the sort of women Martha admired Henry shares Martha s profound empathy with horses, but they re far less articulate with each other Their muted romance is among the book s chief pleasures, a reminder of a time was it possible when adults expressed their passion in long, silent walks, splitting a piece of pie and, finally, after a few months maybe holding hands.That sounds corny, but there isn t a false move in this poignant novel, which demonstrates as much insight into the hearts of men and women as into the hearts of horses Books like this are easy to overlook, but there s someone on your holiday list who will feel blessed by Gloss s gentle story.http wp dyn