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The Hearts of Horses Paperback – Bargain Price, December 8, 2008


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The Hearts of Horses + The Jump-Off Creek + Wild Life
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (December 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547085753
  • ASIN: B0029LHWMW
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #827,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gloss's austere latest (after Wild Life) features a wandering taciturn tomboy who finds her place in rural Oregon while the men are away at war. After she leaves home in 1917, 19-year-old Martha Lessen plans to travel from farm to farm in Elwha County, Oregon, breaking horses left behind by owners away fighting. She winds up in small town Shelby, where farmers George and Louise Bliss convince her to stay the winter with them after she domesticates their broncos with soft words and songs instead of lariats and hobbles. While breaking the town's horses, Martha meets a slovenly drunk, a clan of Western European immigrants and two unmarried sisters running a ranch with the help of an awkward, secretive teenager. When Martha's not making the rounds or riding through the Clarks Range, Louise tries her hand at socializing (or, perhaps, breaking) her, but Martha chafes at town dances, social outings and Louise's hand-me-down church dresses. Gloss's narrative is sometimes as slow as Martha's progress with the more recalcitrant beasts, but following stubborn, uncompromising Martha as she goes about her work provides its own unique pleasures. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Molly Gloss’s affecting fourth novel turns the Western genre on its head with a woman as the mysterious stranger appearing on horseback, but Gloss is known for her independent, self-sufficient heroines. The Hearts of Horses is perhaps the most sentimental of all her works. Though the plot is more a collection of linked stories than a single, continuous narrative—a stylistic technique that most reviewers commented on but did not criticize—Gloss’s simple, unadorned prose and stark portrayal of the West during the first two decades of the 20th century create a moving, wistful memorial to a lost way of life. Shy, self-effacing Martha captivates her fellow humans in much the same way she charms wayward horses. Only USA Today suggested that the story lacks a certain warmth. However, Martha will no doubt beguile most readers.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

How I got started writing, etc., is a long story you can read on my website. But here are the highlights of my writing life: In 1996 I received a prestigious Whiting Writers Award--sort of a MacArthur grant in a minor key. But nobody knows what the heck it is, so how did it come to be prestigious?! Probably it's the substantial chunk of change they drop on your head without warning. ("Substantial" of course being a relative term. It's not MacArthur substantial. But we paid off our house!) The Jump-Off Creek is usually referred to as "a Pacific Northwest classic" and was winner of an Oregon Book Award and a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, and a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. The Dazzle of Day, which is a science fiction novel, received the PEN West Fiction Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book. Fairly unusual for a science fiction novel to win a major PEN prize, but the Notable Book thing, not so much--it was Notable only within the ghetto of science fiction. Go figure. Wild Life, set in the woods and mountains of Washington State at the turn of the 20th century, won the James Tiptree Award for literary fantasy, although at the time I wrote it I didn't think I was writing anything fantastical. My newest, The Hearts of Horses, has been the most popular of any of my works. Not sure why. Is it that attention-grabbing cover? or "horses" in the title?!

Customer Reviews

Great story, characters are warm, real,& Believable.
Gail Peterson
Molly Gloss's spare prose is just enough to provide deep insight into the lives, minds and hearts of her characters, two and four legged.
A. Kocher
I loved this story about a young woman who hires out to not break, but gentle and train, horses.
E. B.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Senjiwe Al-Muhadinis on February 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I chose this book because of the plurality in the title, I thought I would learn about the character and soul of non-verbal beings, and the cover photo, clearly female, riding swiftly, freely with purpose, accomplishment and joy. These are superficial reasons for choosing a book and what a splendid surprise I had in the world of this book. I am an urban woman, no country or wide open spaces or large animals in my life but I loved the language of this book, how it made a place, a time, and its people live for me. Thank you Molly Gloss for a read so engrossing I reached the end of the line and the bus driver did not shoo me out; waited until I came back to my world and hopped off! I apologized, he said he noticed me reading through the week, watched me intent, smiling, weeping, frowning. That day he knew I was at the end, and could not bear to disturb me.
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46 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Dixie Myers on November 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. It's set during WW1 when so many young men were gone to the trenches, that one over-tall, painfully shy young woman got to live the life her unique skills suited her for: horse trainer, horse gentler--the life of a cowboy. The heroine makes a place for herself in a new community that can accept and value her for what she has to offer. So much more than a take on history, so much more than a romance, this is a story of time and place and people still on the frontier of American life. A book to keep, a book to share--just make sure you get it back!
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By 2sequoyah on December 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like the previous reviewer, I intended to limit myself to one or two chapters a day. That was very difficult to do, as I savored every word of this book. It was the inner world of Martha Lesson that I most identified with, and my hat is off to Molly Gloss for capturing so well the patience and humility it takes to make a horse as well as Martha. "The horse doesn't care how much you know until he knows how much you care" are the words from the wisest man I ever knew. I picked this book off the counter at the Powell's Bookstore stand in the Portland airport and I am so glad that I did. Read this book, you won't be sorry you did.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Miz Ellen VINE VOICE on January 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
My first riding instructor subscribed to the old saying "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man." As a teacher of horses and of horsepersons, he would have heartily agreed with the heroine of this book who judged people by how they treated their horses.

Martha Lessen is nineteen. She carries her favorite book in her saddlebags (Black Beauty) and rides a badly scarred horse called Dolly who was burned in a fire. Martha has already experienced enough of life to be a bit scarred and skittish herself. She's seeking work "breaking" horses and World War One has presented her with an opportunity. The men who would normally do this work are going off to the trenches 'over there'. Martha has her own methods: the horses she works with are gentled instead of "broken" to saddle.

With luck, Martha finds a couple who are short handed. They are willing to hire her, but more importantly, they befriend her. They recommend her to others at their church and soon, Martha has a string of horses to train. As soon as these raw young horses have the basics, she sets up a circuit where a horse from one ranch is ridden to the next. She then changes her saddle to the horse that has rested in that corral and rides to the next ranch. And so on...

Riding the circuit, in all weathers, on young horses with no experience is a challenge that Martha accepts seven days a week. She has her share of adventures but as she makes her daily circuit she is drawn into the lives of the people along the way. Along with Martha, the reader becomes drawn into the hopes, dreams, fears and dangers that face these isolated people of the American West. Every man, woman and child that Martha meets reacts to her as a women doing a man's job with a woman's touch.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By H. Mitchell on January 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just found this wonderful author through the Seattle P-I newspaper. I originally checked the book out of the library. I had it read in one day it was so good. Its rare when I find an author who I want to have a copy of my own for my library. Her characters are strong and you feel like you're right there riding the horses with her. I highly recommend this book for reading.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A. Kocher on April 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Molly Gloss's spare prose is just enough to provide deep insight into the lives, minds and hearts of her characters, two and four legged. Martha Lessen is the central point - the center of the circle, her horses' lives, and gradually, the community. If you love horses, the West, history or romance, you'll find much to enjoy here. The characters stay with you long after the last gentle word of this delightful novel. The last novel I enjoyed this much was Water for Elephants. Hearts of Horses deserves the same long slow jog to enduring popularity.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Deirdre Hart on February 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A dear friend recommended this to me. I put everything else in my life on the backburner while I ate this book alive. Having lived with horses on a high desert ranch, I cherished the noble and individual personalities of Martha's circle of horses as well as the stark and stern nature of that country. What most warmed my heart most, however, was the humanity, humor and fortitude of the young "horse whisperer". Upon closing the book, I promptly ordered a copy to send to my son and daughter-in-law, both equine vets in Idaho.
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