THE HORSEMAN'S WORD by Georgess McHargue


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Not a strong story--the characters are fictional types, the plotting is crude, the situation is melodramatic--but one with some strong, even unusual elements. And girls (for it's very much a girl's book) will recognize what McHargue is getting at when she takes horsey, super-confident Leigh Allison Powers, of Boston and ""Westerly Hill,"" Mass., to the Highland farm of her Scottish relatives and plunks her up against the cruelities and pain of real life. For all the while that Leigh is helping maintain the pony-trekking business of glum, stroke-injured Uncle Will and doggedly sunny Aunt Connie, and especially all the while she nurtures the interest of charming, inscrutable Rob Tinto, who's tyrannized (she soon learns) by his malevolent grandfather ""Young Tam,"" she knows she'll be flying off, soon, to her ""pleasant, orderly life."" To get back at Young Tam for his contempt of her fancy horsemanship, his smugness about the mysterious ""Horseman's Word,"" Leigh insinuates herself, disguised as a boy, into the macabre Horseman's Word initiation rite conducted by Young Tam--and then, unmasked, blurts out something to turn Young Tam's ire from Rob that she had promised Rob never to tell, that will make his situation henceforth intolerable and cause him to take flight. (It all has to do with his mother, Young Tam's wayward daughter--who actually abandoned Rob, though he is loathe to admit it.) So Leigh's remaining days must be spent righting, not-too-convincingly, what she's done. . . and settling Rob in, all-too-conveniently, with Uncle Will and Aunt Connie (reconciled, now to his injury). The Scottish scene is nicely shaded, however, not romantic-picturesque; and altogether the fictiveness of everything except Leigh's interloper status is less obvious than it would be in more mundane surroundings.

Pub Date: May 28th, 1981
Publisher: Delacorte