BOOK REVIEW: Horse by Geraldine Brooks

The Blurb (from Goodreads)

A discarded painting in a junk pile, a skeleton in an attic, and the greatest racehorse in American history: from these strands, a Pulitzer Prize winner braids a sweeping story of spirit, obsession, and injustice across American history

Kentucky, 1850. An enslaved groom named Jarret and a bay foal forge a bond of understanding that will carry the horse to record-setting victories across the South. When the nation erupts in civil war, an itinerant young artist who has made his name on paintings of the racehorse takes up arms for the Union. On a perilous night, he reunites with the stallion and his groom, very far from the glamor of any racetrack.

New York City, 1954. Martha Jackson, a gallery owner celebrated for taking risks on edgy contemporary painters, becomes obsessed with a nineteenth-century equestrian oil painting of mysterious provenance.

Washington, DC, 2019. Jess, a Smithsonian scientist from Australia, and Theo, a Nigerian-American art historian, find themselves unexpectedly connected through their shared interest in the horse--one studying the stallion's bones for clues to his power and endurance, the other uncovering the lost history of the unsung Black horsemen who were critical to his racing success.

Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, Horse is a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism.

My Thoughts:

Geraldine Brooks is one of my favourite authors, and I always rush out to buy her latest book as soon as it is released. She never disappoints me. Her books are always impeccably researched, beautifully written, and full of surprises. Horse is no exception. It tells the story of a young slave in 1850s Kentucky who loves a horse, and trains it to be the greatest racehorse known in American history. The bay thoroughbred Lexington is most famous for racing against a stopwatch; he and his groom Jarret lived through the bloody turmoil of the American Civil War and the years of racial strife that followed. Woven together with this historical narrative is the contemporary story of an Australian scientist at the Smithsonian and a Nigerian-American art historian who are drawn together by their shared obsession with this magnificent and long-dead horse. The result is powerful and deeply moving. 

Kate Forsyth
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