Jun 22, 2012

Riding Lessons (Or How to Be an Utterly Unreasonable Bitch)

Riding Lessons
Sara Gruen

As a world-class equestrian and Olympic contender, Annemarie Zimmer lived for the thrill of flight atop a strong, graceful animal. Then, at eighteen, a tragic accident destroyed her riding career and Harry, the beautiful horse she cherished. Now, twenty years later, Annemarie is coming home to her dying father's New Hampshire horse farm. Jobless and abandoned, she is bringing her troubled teenage daughter to this place of pain and memory, where ghosts of an unresolved youth still haunt the fields and stables—and where hope lives in the eyes of the handsome, gentle veterinarian Annemarie loved as a girl . . . and in the seductive allure of a trainer with a magic touch.

But everything will change yet again with one glimpse of a white striped gelding startlingly similar to the one Annemarie lost in another lifetime. And an obsession is born that could shatter her fragile world.

 I am back from my long, horseless reading stint to bring you what is possibly the worst adult equestrian novel I have ever read. It doesn't help that I had pretty high expectations going into this one, as I loved Water for Elephants.

Annemarie is the most unlikeable character I have met in a long, long time. She makes me itch to slap her silly. She is selfish and so self-absorbed it is no wonder her daughter hates her and her husband left her. Just saying.

As for the plot... well most it revolves around Annemarie's need to prove a horse her old flame rescues is fully related to Harry, who died in the accident years back that put an end to her competitive career. She becomes totally and uncompromisingly obsessed with this horse that she allows her family's business to fall into disarray.

I wanted to see her grow as a character and realize that her accident and loss is not an excuse to be a crazy bitch. This does not happen. I was just as annoyed with her at the end of the novel as I was at the beginning.

The reviews quoted on the cover suggest that this book at least as some romance to it. Maybe something would have developed beyond what it actually contained if Annemarie could get past herself and her needs and her, her, her, her. This is not a romance novel, people. I would rather throw The Horse Whisperer at you if that is what you are after. A Dan Brown novel contains more feelings and affection.

There is this one scene that amused me far more than it should. Annemarie, a total moron in the kitchen, gets it into her head to cook a gourmet meal for the love interest and basically almost burns down his kitchen. Such is level of her arrogance!

Basically, the whole book is batshit crazy. So many bad things happen in the space of a few weeks it is implausible. Not that Annemarie doesn't deserve them. She does. She deserves every single bad thing to come her way and then some.

And there you have it. I hated this book so hard.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree! I hated this book. And she's even worse in the sequel (Flying Changes)! She throws a total tantrum when her BF doesn't propose to her on her birthday, as she expected. Unfortunately he doesn't dump her immediately like a normal guy would. And she finds out later that he actually WAS planning to propose, but she totally ruined it by storming out. So stupid! Then there's her horrible spoiled brat of a daughter--ugh! Don't even get me started on that twit. Trust me, this book is not worth reading.

Hannah said...

Haha, I can't believe you hadn't read this yet! I totally agree that the sequel is even worse. I enjoyed them once as trainwreck candy, but they're totally unrereadable. Alas! Sometimes you need a good trainwreck.