Plot lags behind character, but Hagy reads horses and people so well you won’t mind…so much.


He’s come of age, but the appealing young cowboy still has life lessons to learn in this beautifully observed third novel from Hagy (Snow, Ashes, 2007, etc.). 

Will Testerman knows horses. He was 8 when he bought a pony and 16 when he started wrangling; he’s worked the rodeo circuit. But there’s little to keep him home on the small ranch outside Lost Cabin, Wyo. It can’t sustain his family. Both his embittered father and his brother Everett must work second jobs in town. Besides, Will, now 23, has a restless spirit. His father sees him as an impractical dreamer, but his schoolteacher mother encourages him to spread his wings. Will tended her during her breast-cancer scare; that’s now in remission. The novel opens with Will buying a beautiful 2-year-old filly for a bargain price. She will be a “development project” for the patient Will. He talks to her a lot, building trust. He won’t ride her yet (no saddle until she’s three), but they’ll be going to California together to meet Don Enrique. Hagy leaves the name hanging, a nice bit of suspense. First they will go to a guest ranch near Cody, where Will has a summer job as corral boss. Hagy demonstrates an easy mastery of her material; whether it’s horsey stuff, a sex scene or an ugly poker game, she nails it. The estancia in Anaheim is a shock. It turns out Don Enrique is an Argentine businessman who hosts polo games. His manager is a swine. Five frightened, underfed Argentine teenagers do the barn work. Will’s fantasy of learning the polo business, unwisely based on a single conversation with the Don, begins to crumble. Will his innate decency hobble him with this tough, mercenary crowd? And can he protect his beloved filly from these rapacious rich folks? It will prove a hard landing for them both.   

Plot lags behind character, but Hagy reads horses and people so well you won’t mind…so much.

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55597-612-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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