Horse

By Geraldine Brooks,

Book cover of Horse

Book description

"Brooks' chronological and cross-disciplinary leaps are thrilling." -The New York Times Book Review

"Horse isn't just an animal story-it's a moving narrative about race and art." -TIME

A discarded painting in a junk pile, a skeleton in an attic, and the greatest racehorse in American history: from these strands, a…

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Why read it?

20 authors picked Horse as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I was drawn to this historical novel because I love horse-centric books. Geraldine Brooks received a Pulitzer Prize for this novel, so I knew it would be well written. It did not disappoint.

I learned about Lexington, a wonderful stallion claimed to be the fastest horse on record. But, the story is more about Jarret, his keeper who kept him from being damaged and exploited in the greedy horse racing world.

From Linda's list on adventure on horseback for adults.

The last time I rode a horse, I was twenty years old. I know little about horses or the racing culture, let alone its history. Yet I adored Geraldine Brooks’ Horse, which pairs a modern-day mystery surrounding a discarded painting of a legendary racehorse with a historical thread involving the world of racing in the pre-Civil War era.

I have loved all of Brooks’ historical novels, and as always, I admire the rich language and the attention to historical detail she seamlessly weaves into her stories. I love that she takes Horse a step further, portraying the devastating and…

Mainly, I love a good horse story. This one, a historical novel, weaves tons of research into a seamless story about a (real) racehorse in the 1850s; the (partly fictionalized) people who owned, worked with, or painted him; and (partly fictionalized) people in 2019 who discovered the history and had reasons of their own to want to do well by that horse and all he represented.

Each chapter left me wanting to keep reading, and I was grateful at the end of the story to find that the author then devoted many pages to letting the reader know in unusual…

This book was recommended by a friend. I am not a horse lover, but I loved this story!

With three main character storylines interwoven (that of a young Kentucky slave bonded with a gifted horse, a Nigerian-American art historian, and an Australian fossil expert), Geraldine Brooks made me feel like I was "really there" with each of them.

These characters’ lives play out in relationship to a mystery involving an oil painting of a racehorse. I was fascinated by the historical details of thoroughbred horse racing in the US. 

And depictions of a slave’s life grabbed me from the get-go,…

When I find an author I like, I follow them and read everything their mind produces. That’s how it is with Geraldine Brooks. I’ll read anything she writes because you’re bound to get a deep, insightful book with the sweep of history, in this case, horse racing and race relations in the US. Historical novels are some of my favorites.

I read to understand the past and present and gain deeper compassion for humanity. 

How uniquely effective is it to trace the evolution of today’s racial prejudice using fine art and equines?

As the chapters shift between periods, the animals are equal victims of racial prejudice as they are repossessed by owners who are no longer able or permitted to care for them.

It’s the mark of an effective book when I feel frustrated by the cliff-hanging suspense that marks the chapter break and a transition between characters. Compelling to read, yet sad.

The emotional component of Horse is what drew me to this beautifully written book that deals with slavery, the South before the Civil War, horse racing, race, and the love between a horse and a young enslaved groom.

Though not a horsey person, I was enthralled by the bond between Jarret and Lexington, the thoroughbred horse he took care of for most of Lexington's life. How when Lexington became blind, he taught the horse to follow verbal commands.

This is an historic novel based on the real life of Lexington, who lived in the mid-1800s and sired the most champions…

Horse is one of my all-time favorite books. Brooks is a master at developing character. Each person, no matter how small their role, took on a story that hooked me and made me want to read more about them.

Not only does Horse bring us a fabulous tale about a real racehorse and real people, but it also takes a hard look at slavery and its effects on America’s ongoing racial issues. 

I’ve been a horse nut all my life and I got my full dose of equine content in Horse: training, anatomy, behavior, and the human-horse bond between Jarret and “Lexington” that underpins the entire multiple-timeline story. 

But the overriding message of Horse regards racism, past and present. And the tragic message is clear: We have not come far enough since 1850. A lot is written about white authors (for example Brooks, and me in The Wallace House of Pain) tackling topics we can have no direct, personal experience with. But she proves that a careful, respectful, and well-researched…

I wasn’t that excited when my book club picked this novel, and I thought I’d be bored. Boy, was I wrong!

The story takes place over three time periods: the Civil War, the 1950s, and 2019. The way the author weaves together all three time periods and what black people faced and still face is seamless.

I didn’t know anything about racehorses and how they were raised by the slaves during the eighteen hundreds and had no idea how fascinated I’d be.

The best part was an emotional look at one slave and his relationship with a horse. The book…

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