Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
A Year at the Races: Reflections on Horses, Humans, Love, Money, and Luck Hardcover – April 13, 2004
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
From Publishers Weekly
In a wide-ranging and detailed, yet somewhat flat memoir, Smiley (A Thousand Acres; Moo; etc.) examines the nuances of horses' lives and of the people who build their lives around them. She does not aim "to evoke horseness, but to evoke horse individuality; to do what a novelist naturally does, which is to limn idiosyncrasy and character, and thereby to shade in some things about identity." This she accomplishes through illustrative episodes with some of the horses she has owned, focusing on two and their fortunes at the track. While the book offers anecdotes and an array of Smiley's theories about horse personality and cognizance, it lacks the narrative or dramatic flair that one expects would come naturally from such an accomplished novelist. The writing can often be formulaic: "In June, Eddie died, and Alexis became my trainer. Hornblower was two. I was fifty. Alexis was forty-eight. Mr. T. had died the year before, at twenty. Jackie was three. Persey was four. Alexis and I began to become friends." Smiley talks of moving her horse from one track to another as "being asked to leave Harvard and take a course at Boston University," and she delights in cutting a grand figure when arriving at the more posh tracks in a publisher-provided Mercedes limousine. In the end, the book provides a meticulous look at the world of thoroughbred horses, but it has too many flaws to be a perfectly enjoyable read.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Smiley's great love for horses inspired her spectacular novel Horse Heaven (2000). Now she chronicles her real-life equestrian experiences as a novice but adventurous horse owner bringing her untried young horses to the track in California with the help of a gifted trainer, Alexis, and the astonishing disclosures of Hali, an animal communicator with whom Smiley's horses share their thoughts and concerns. The very qualities of mind that make Smiley such a compelling novelist--her keen attentiveness to the sensuous world, her deep sensitivity to psychological states, and her fascination with life's entwinement of chance and inevitability--enable her to write about horses, both their interior and exterior selves, with extraordinary avidity, empathy, wonder, and gratitude. As she tells the intriguing stories of the horses she knows best, neurotic Persey, scintillating Waterwheel, and the book's irresistible star, ardent Hornblower (who tells Hali that he wants to be called by his nickname, Wowie, because Hornblower has negative "vibrational qualities"), Smiley, as erudite and probing as she is passionate and witty, meticulously and bewitchingly illuminates equine sense and sensibility. Ultimately, Smiley succeeds brilliantly in portraying horses not only as fully sentient beings but also as beautiful and intriguing creatures of unique intelligence and heart, who have, over the course of centuries, greatly enhanced and graced human life. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The book is amusing in places and presents a few interesting ideas, but the reader has to wade through some dull patches to get to them. I wasn't expecting quite so many anecdotal passages about Ms. Smiley's non-racing horses, and some of these seemed repetitive or irrelevant. And I was annoyed by the way she figuratively holds her nose when she goes into the racetrack grandstand area, characterizing racing fans as a bunch of chainsmoking sleazes who aren't safe to be around. Grow up, Ms. Smiley: the fans are no different than the people on the track backside, and without them the sport of kings would be as dead as Henry VIII. As a horse owner, racing fan, and someone who has loved thoroughbreds all my life, my opinion is that she did not do the sport any favors by writing this book. And from the viewpoint of someone who loves a good book, I found this one disjointed, a bit naive, and far below her usual literary performance.
Most recent customer reviews
I read the book a few years ago.Read more