Wednesday, February 9, 2011

BOOK REVIEW : "The Horse Dancer", by Jojo Moyes (Hodder)

I’m reading a wonderful book. It’s called “The Horse Dancer”, by an English author called Jojo Moyes. This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and I’d never even heard of her until I randomly stumbled across this particular book while browsing the Internet for literary gifts just before Christmas. The story appealed, so I clicked and bought it.

I’m so glad I did. It’s been ages since I read a book with a horse theme, and this one has hooked me so intensely that I find myself checking my watch at 9 pm, wondering whether it would be kind of sad for me to go to bed at such an early hour. I mean, I am knitting a lot lately, so I don’t want to push the sad factor too far. Thing is, these “sad” activities make me happy! Sign of the times, eh?!

There have been evenings when I’ve resisted the call of “The Horse Dancer”, instead plonking myself in front of the television to watch daft stuff such as “American Idol”, or upsetting stuff such as the news, only to regret it later when, suddenly, it’s gone one o’clock in the morning and I’m still reading away under the duvet, utterly immersed in this book and having to force myself to turn off the light.

Set mostly in London, “The Horse Dancer” is the heart-wrenching story of fourteen-year-old Sarah, whose world falls apart when the grandfather who raised her and whom she loves so much has a stroke and winds up in hospital. As a young man, Sarah’s grandfather, Henri Lachapelle, had been a member of Le Cadre Noir de Saumur, the famous French military dressage academy. Sarah has inherited his passion for horses and lives for the time she spends riding Boo, the beautiful, talented selle français (French Warmblood) her grandfather bought her. Money is short and Boo is stabled in a rundown backstreet yard in a dodgy area of London without any riding facilities, so Sarah and her grandfather train in a quiet corner of a nearby park. Sarah’s dream is to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and ride for the Cadre Noir.

But when her grandfather becomes ill, Sarah finds herself living alone, fending for herself, scrambling to find ways to pay for horse’s keep, juggling between finding time for school and training her horse. Destiny sets her in the path of Natasha Macauley, a young lawyer who deals with problem children, and whose life is also in turmoil. Natasha’s professional judgment is being called into question, her boyfriend is repeatedly letting her down, and circumstances soon force her to share her house with her soon to be ex-husband, the gorgeous, charismatic Mac. When Natasha decides to take Sarah under her wing, she has no idea how complicated her life is about to become. NO idea!

“The Horse Dancer” is a captivating read, a real romantic page turner with interesting, original characters and an exciting story line. In some ways it reminds me of one of my favorite horse films, “International Velvet” (in fact Tatum O’Neal’s character in the film was also called Sarah!), and I keep thinking what a wonderful movie this book would make. So if you’re looking for a deeply satisfying story to snuggle up with under the duvet, I highly recommend it.

I’ll have finished it soon, and will be sad when I have, so can anyone recommend another really good book?


Anonymous said...

Jaimy Gordon - Lord of Misrule - it's gotten a lot of attention and is actually very good. Rundown racetrack, used up racehorses with individual personalities, dodgy characters, good story.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

Sounds like a must read. thanks for the pointer.

Francesca Prescott said...

Thanks for the tip, Kate. I'll go and find it.

I hope you enjoy The Horse Dancer, FV. I don't think it's available in the US yet other than in the Kindle edition, although it might be soon as I see that many of her other books are.

strivingforsavvy said...

I will read it, thanks! I just read Water for Elephants and loved it!

Linda Benson said...

Thanks, Francesca. I'm always looking for a good book. Right now I'm reading THE BLESSINGS OF THE ANIMALS by Katrina Kittle. It's about a woman vet with major relationship problems, who has a soft spot for horses ,and who takes in rescue animals and a whole lot more. Loving it so far!

Alison said...

Francesca, thanks for the review. Be warned that Lord of Misrule is NOT for the faint of heart. Horse violence galore.

I hope you have read the classic Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley.

Dreaming said...

Sad! This title is not available in the US as a Kindle edition :(

Amy said...

Looks like a Great book! I absolutely LOVE to read, and even more so love to read about animals. Especially dogs and horses :) Thanks for sharing!

Dogs Need To Run

Francesca Prescott said...

Striving for savvy, I know I bought Water for Elephants years ago, but must have leant it to someone before reading it and never got it back. Grrr. I've read some of Sara Gruen's other books and have enjoyed them, especially Flying Changes. Maybe it wasn't her best book, but it was very horsey so it definitely appealed to me.

Linda: I've noted down The Blessings of Animals for a next order. Must stop buying so many books!

Alison: thanks for the warning! Yikes! Don't do so well with violence and gore.

Dreaming: Oh no, what a drag! I'm sorry :( Can you download Kindle from I don't know these things as I'm not a Kindle person.

Amy: I hope you can find it somewhere and enjoy it. I'm sure it will be released in the US before too long; it looks like mer other books have. Is this your book on the link? I'll go take a look :)

Anonymous said...

I just ordered The Horse Dancer from Amazon. Usually they carry books that I can't normally find elsewhere. Just thought I let you know! Can't wait to get my copy!!!

Francesca Prescott said...

Mommyrides: do let me know what you think of it! I really hope you enjoy it :)

The Pottering Artist said...

Sounds good - thanks for the review! Alison

Anonymous said...

Francesca!!! Loved it! Loved it! Loved it!!!!! Think it would make a great movie too!!! Read way too late at night and got nothing done the next day just to finish it! And I cried, yes I admit it.....sigh.....over too fast.

Thanks again for the recommended this wonderful book!

Francesca Prescott said...

Mommyrides: YAY!!! I'm so happy you loved it! Now, who would you see in the movie version??? And wouldn't it just make such a good movie??!!! I hope Jojo Moyes read this blog; I'm sure it would make her very happy, too :)