Wild Horses On The Salt Paperback – May 30, 2020
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- ASIN : B089D19GK2
- Publisher : Independently published (May 30, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 343 pages
- ISBN-13 : 979-8649678100
- Item Weight : 15.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.86 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,505,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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A place to hide is Becca’s motivation. She is too beaten down to covet recovery or a better life, no less, happiness. Little does she know that Gaby’s is a place of magic—oh, not of the Cinderella type of magic, but of the healing type found in the spirit of land and sky and flora and fauna and truly righteous people. While the issue of spousal abuse is an undercurrent of Montgomery’s story, ultimately it is so much more—it is a smorgasbord of relationships, of the animal, plant, and insect kind, each one providing a life lesson for Becca and friends, as well as for the reader.
A most endearing and surprising liaison plays out between the skunk and Red, the resident orange cat. Buddies since birth, Red is complicit in skunk’s nightly raids on the beehives, an infuriating and objectively incurable situation—incurable until Becca and her mates are gifted with an attitude-altering epiphany. Sharing center stage with Becca in Montgomery’s story are the wild horses that roam free in the area, the spotlight focused on a magnificent stallion. He is the leader of a small band of mares. Gravely injured by a speeding car while crossing a highway, the stallion is rescued, corralled, and rehabilitated by caring people. During his time of captivity, the mares go missing. Crazed by the separation from his mares, the horse breaks free and a priceless treatise on his finding his way back to his home turf and mares warms ones heart, especially since his companion on his journey is a little lost sheep. Montgomery writes: “The horse lay in the shelter of a rocky ledge. The sheep, curled next to him, rested against his back. Though the storm, with its pelting rain and blowing wind, had frightened the little animal initially, the steady breathing of the horse and the warmth of his body had calmed her.
“Later, the horse and the sheep came upon a herd of cows grazing placidly along a wire-fence, near a large, brown-and-white sign bearing the words Bureau of Land Management which boasted several jagged bullet holes. The cows paid no attention when the horse and the sheep approached to graze beside them. The spot, which bordered a two-lane road, dipped below the edge of the tarmac and was often rich with tender grasses, the result of runoff. Even before the storm, the area had been popular with this herd of milk cows and calves. Now free from the storm’s treacherous winds, animals and insects emerged from their hiding spots. Birds darted among the black-and white cows, snapping up bugs. A bird with snowy feathers, golden eyes, and a matching beak perched between the shoulder blades of an old cow. The bright white cattle egret was rare in the Sonoran Desert. In fact, the bird that had migrated from Africa to South America in the late nineteenth century had not been seen anywhere in North America until the early 1950s. When cattle egrets did appear in the desert, it was sometimes around irrigated fields or places where grasshoppers and crickets might pop into the air to avoid rising water. The bird was also drawn to the cows because the bovines stirred up insects while grazing in dry fields. But the relationship between the bird and the cow was not one-sided. The egret would tend the animal’s hide while it searched for parasites, plucking the itchy creatures from the cow’s skin and gulping them down.”
The world of nature outside the arrogant human eye is judged chaotic, but on closer look and the vision cleared, the veil of prejudice is lifted and we see that the disorder in fact exists within us. What human being wouldn’t find healing in such creature company as illustrated by Montgomery in this novel? I rate this glorious relationship story with 5 stars, and recommend it as a good choice of reading material during this high holiday season, and as a welcome distraction from the trials of Covid-19.© -Linda Lee Greene, Author & Artist
This author, Anne Montgomery, knows how to tell a story, from set up to denouement. There was no sagging middle. The story action carried the plot. Montgomery has set up a female protagonist who is not necessarily weak, perhaps a little naïve. At times I wanted to shake her into certain realizations. But this is the sign of a true author. That was her main character’s personality and Montgomery wrote it exceedingly well. The other characters were so unique from one another, it was a pleasure to learn who they were and the parts they play.
Another character Montgomery correctly portrays is the antagonist. (Won’t tell who it is so I don’t create a spoiler.) But the antagonist is first shown to be a caring individual. As we learn more about him over time, we begin to see the real culprit that he is, or worse. When his true character is exposed, he is vicious, self-serving, and a true deranged psychopath. That character was true to human nature of this type, such as it is with pathological disturbances. I kept thinking, Wow! This author understands the mind!
There is a love story in there too, not just excitement and lives at stake. Where would life be if not for people helping one another and a few wishing to try to can make a life together? This was the first book by this author that I have read. I would definitely look into the rest of her books. Her writing style is easy to read and fast flowing. The plot of this one is unpredictable but comes together in spectacular manner at the end; a fine set of unique characters and story telling that truly mirrors life in the desert.
Top reviews from other countries
Becca, the story’s protagonist, is a victim of domestic abuse, one of the themes well represented in the book, from the north-eastern state of New Jersey. As someone familiar with life in a populous region and from a location on the doorstep of New York, she escapes her husband’s prison to find refuge with strangers in the desert lands of the western state of Arizona. The author cleverly uses the geographical contrasts of the two regions to hint at character differences between the inhabitants.
Becca’s story is engaging, depressing, inspiring, difficult, and uplifting as she faces the contrasts of her new life with her old and tries to come to terms with her dreadful upbringing and her mistaken marriage to a cruel, manipulative, self-serving man who sees her as just another possession to be worn as a sign of his perceived success.
Underlying the tale of her new and confusing but promising life is the fear that her jealous, possessive husband may find her and continue his appalling mental, spiritual and physical torture. The relationship of abused women to their tormentors is described with compassion, understanding and some despair.
Becca’s childhood is central to her victimisation, as her parents raised her without love and were concerned only with how she could reflect and elevate their own status by being the person they wished her to be. No concern was ever shown regarding her wishes, no appreciation of her natural talents, by this pair of individuals that consisted of a mother who accepted physical abuse as normal and a father utterly devoid of respect, love, or concern for his daughter’s welfare. The novel sensitively depicts this familial serial tragedy, understanding the inevitable sequencing of behaviour whilst showing that an escape from the vicious circle is possible, given a combination of courage from the victim and a circle of protective and understanding friends.
Running alongside the marital violence story, as a contrast to her own experience, is the loving relationship of Becca’s protectors, her chance to re-invigorate her early enjoyment of art and to rediscover her very real talent with brush and paints.
A second thread, and another theme of the novel, is man’s relationship with nature. In this case represented by the dilemma faced by a burgeoning human population in an area with limited natural resources over the needs of a growing population of feral horses. It’s a fitting metaphor for the world in general as it continues to increase humanity’s overbearing numbers at the expense of all other wildlife and slowly comes to the realisation that the only solution to a serious and urgent problem is to stop the increase in our population. This solution is not stated but is the inevitable conclusion any sensible reader will reach given the facts.
The horse element of the story slightly grated on me with its anthropomorphism. I was inevitably drawn to a comparison with William Horwood’s ‘The Stonor Eagles’, which cleverly combines the fates of a threatened wild species with the rising ambitions and talents of a gifted artist. In that book, however, the eagles’ story is most definitely told from their point of view, without reference to purely human traits or emotions. Nevertheless, the story of the horses is engaging and illuminating, and forms an appropriate contrast to that of Becca.
The characters, an essential element of any fictional work, are real people. There are no carboard cut-outs here. They are well presented, warts and all. But, as with any author thoroughly at home with their characters, they are drawn with compassion and love. Even the wicked antagonist is given some reason for his appalling actions.
There is a tendency for current American novels to give undue attention to certain aspects of life. Food and clothes in particular can almost become starring characters in their own right. Such detailed description underlines the obsessive nature of the country with its excessive consumption, and, in this book, I could never quite decide whether the depiction was a subtle attempt to alert US readers to their destructive greed and excess or simply an innocent and unaware description of everyday life. In fact, as an example of life in white, well-off USA, it does very well.
I enjoyed the read, engaged with the characters, and was able to empathise with most, and at least understand the societal origins of the antagonist’s behaviour and attitudes. A well-rounded story that would be a good read for as many men as the women for whom it is currently promoted.