THE HORSEMASTER by T. Alan Broughton


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Middle-aged epiphany in a small Adirondack town--and once again (as in A Family Gathering and Winter Journey) Broughton handily assembles the tick-tock relationships in a small world yet somehow fails to bring a powerful, promising design to life. Low Brede cares for the draft horses on the estate of elderly Coleman White, for whom Lew's father had also worked. Loving the woods and the horses, comfortably fond of widow Annie, drifter Lew feels his life ""seemed right at last""--despite those shreds of dreams and memories about his brooding (slightly mad?) father, his doomed mother, his own failures (an aborted N.Y. acting career, the mysterious arsontorching of his bar). But then to Lew's cabin door comes 24-year-old Miriam--who says she's his daughter . . . and she is. Born just after Lew had parted from mother Monica, and then immediately adopted by a well-to-do couple, Miriam has been searching ever after for her real parents--especially now that her adoptive parents have died in an air crash. For Lew, however, the arrival of a daughter is too much: his world clatters down about him like a pile of jackstraws. The possibility of commitment--to a daughter, to Annie, to a place--takes on a frightening new urgency. A pile-up of savage pressures--the death of Coleman, the sick manipulations of Coleman's nympho daughter Phoebe, the deaths of Lew's own beloved horses--propels Lew into drunken fights and rows with Annie, Miriam, and brother Elsmore. Then, passion curiously spent, Lew agrees to travel with Miriam to see Monica, now a sociology professor in Oklahoma. And during this trip Miriam will ask Lew the key question--""Do you ever make up your mind about anything?""--and Lew will finally do just that, accepting his true love, his family, his friends, and his home. Deepcutting and honest in concept--but the long-playing dialogue is heavily tuned to a single cadence (virtually everyone sounds like a middle-aged man), the pacing could use a touch of spurs, and again Broughton has fashioned a novel which is worthy and thoughtful yet never engrossing.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1981
Publisher: Dutton