by Sara Gruen
Category: Fiction / General
400 pages; ISBN: 0060580275
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner
Avon, Apr 2004, $6.99, 400 pp.
Eighteen year old Olympic hopeful, Annemarie Zimmer and her beloved steed Highland Harry run the equestrian course so effortlessly they seem more like a centaur. As they finish the last jump Annemarie senses something is wrong. Three weeks later, a physically broken Annemarie learns that a bone in Harry’s hoof shattered leading to Harry humanely shot dead right there. Annemarie recovers from a broken neck and other major injuries with only the drugs keeping her out of depression.
Twenty years later, Annemarie has lived in Minnesota so she will not be pushed to ride for Harry was her “significant other”. She loses her job documenting software, her spouse Roger leaves her, and she learns that her father is dying from Lou Gehrig’s disease. Though returning to the family’s New Hampshire Maple Brook Riding Academy means reliving her nightmare Annemarie knows she must as she was her dad’s greatest hope and his greatest disappointment. Accompanied by her obdurate know it all teenage daughter she needs to see her dad before he dies. However, the shocker at home is the striped horse that looks like the reincarnation of Harry.
RIDING LESSONS is an exciting character study that uses the equestrian world as a backdrop to a family drama. The vivid story line focuses on the trials and tribulations of Annemarie, a world caliber athlete in hiding from life, her family, and her sport until three strikes make her return to the fold. The secondary cast including her recalcitrant daughter, other family members, the vet she loved as a teen, an attractive trainer, and of course the striped horse provide insight into the heroine who remains the center of a powerful tale of redemption.
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