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Riding Lessons - Sara Gruen

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Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages / Publisher: HarperCollins / Reissue: 14 Jun 2004

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      04.06.2013 21:07
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      Not my favourite book

      Riding Lessons by Sara Cruen

      ISBN: 9780060580278

      A few years ago I gave 'Water For Elephants' to my friend for her birthday and she really enjoyed it , as I did when she passed it back to me some weeks later. This book is by the same author and I believe it was written after 'Water'... but it was certainly published after that book. Anyway this same friend passed me over a large pile of books recently and this was in the pile. I wanted a few easy reads to take on my recent trip and this one was one that I read on one plane journey.


      Sara Gruen is the author of the New York Times bestseller Water for Elephants and Riding Lessons. She lives with her husband and three children in a conservation community outside Chicago.

      She has written four books that I can find 'Water for Elephants' , 'Flying Changes', and 'Ape House' as well as this one.


      World-class equestrienne and Olympic contender, Annemarie Zimmer loved her horse Harry was all set to be the next Olympic heroine when a tragic accident nearly killed her and di kill Harry. She never rode again and her life was changed forever.

      We meet Annemarie as she has been left by her husband and is coming home to help her mother as he father is dying. She brings her aggressive angry teenage daughter . She is back in the world of horses and people from her past. Will this heal her or break her?


      If you choose to read this as I did because you enjoyed Water for Elephants' I think you will be more than a little disappointed.

      The heroine Anne Marie is the most self absorbed whining, annoying character you might ever read. Reading this is like having a friend who is depressed and is refusing to ever take any advice or medication. I spent the entire book wanting to give her a darn good shake and tell her to wake up and think of others for a change.

      It is a long time since I have read a book with a heroine I disliked as much as Annemarie Zimmer.
      She broke her neck, blamed her parents so then after she recovered she refused to ride which is understandable but she also abandoned a nice guy who loved her, married another just because her parents didn't like him. He was good to her but she was still hitting the self destruct button and giving nothing back and wondering why she felt nothing all the time.

      The story is basically sound but somehow because the main character dominates the story ad she is so awful and negative that means that none of the other characters have a chance to become real so that you might actually care what happens to them.

      Annemarie fights with her daughter and while we all know teens can be difficult she is so unreasonable with her daughter that I am surprised worse didn't happen. Annemarie also fights with her parent's clients, her husband, her lover, her mother, and her dying father , in fact I cannot believe even the most depressed person could not feel a little more for the dying father than she seems to. This surely is a time to heal wounds and make up not fight more.

      I think the novel also lacked humour as well. Even in the the most tense or scary or depressing books there can be an element of humour injected to lighten the mood and this certainly needed lightening in my view.

      The other thing that annoyed me was the 'mystery' horse and the story behind it. I really cannot see why Annemarie was so scared that she would lose the horse. It had been sold to a knackers yard and rescued. Surely if there was a fraud then the original owner was always going to be the one in trouble and I couldn't see what the stress was. To be that was a huge plot hole that made a mountain out of an ant hill needlessly.

      The romances were so unlikely as surely no one would put up with such a foul grouch and they way she behaved, one romance would be unlikely and two were totally unbelievable.

      I did quite like the idea of an Austrian mother and her being efficient and traditionally Austrian but somehow this fell a bit flat and was not really explored as we were not allowed close to her until suddenly at the end a whole lot of background was thrust upon the reader to tidy up the loose ends .

      The horsey element seemed quite good and might appeal to those who love horses and books like the 'Horse whisperer' but even beside that novel this book fades and pales in comparison.

      As you can see I was not greatly impressed with this book. It did fill a long boring flight and didn't require much brain power to read but really it was depressing tripe in my opinion. The characters apart from the heroine were not allowed to develop an become real and the main character wanted a darn good shake. If she was so badly depressed it was strange how quickly all seemed to be happy and jolly in the final couple of chapters all because of a horse and a nice man and Mutti having a talk to her!!

      If this had been the first book by this author I had read I would not bother reading another. I am still not sure whether I will try another, I certainly won't be paying good money for one.

      Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same username.



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