BRED TO WIN by William Kinsolving
Kirkus Star


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Kinsolving (Born With the Century, 1979; Raven, 1983) returns with another serpentine rags-to-riches potboiler--leaving no melodramatic stone unturned, of course--in a brisk and frisky saga of thoroughbred racing and a convoluted family's fortunes in the thick of it. Annie Grebauer, born on the wrong side of the tracks, escapes at 15 from her incest-fixated father and brothers in Kentucky, becoming a track-hand at Belmont. Site makes fast connections--befriended first by ex-Mob undertaker Charlie Dell, now a high-stakes gambler, and his apprentice Phil Angelo, who shows her the ropes--and is soon caught up in the whirlwind of glamour and glitter as her come-hither amber haft catches the eye of Sam, the scion of the Cumberland clan. Annie and Sam begin a torrid affair, complicated only when his true-blue-blood buddy Winnie falls in love with her, too. Winnie and Annie eventually tie the knot, and she takes over his family's horse-breeding with a vengeance; but she still loves Sam, and has his child while the noble Winnie bows out by flying his plane into a cliff. Then Annie retires to France with her son to raise her thoroughbreds and let the scandal-mongers cool their heels, eventually making a comeback in Kentucky with the help of her trainer, whose loyalty turns to love as he becomes Husband #2. But the attraction between Annie and Sam is still too strong, so when her new husband turns to the bottle instead of her, she and her lover find themselves in the family way again. Intertwined with the remorse and romance are scenes of thoroughbred life--as Annie struggles to make her mark with bloodlines and an inspired training program--and traces of generational conflict as she tries to regain the affections of her errant children, who have a few problems of their own. Traditional touch-and-go throughout, with every tear-jerking trick possible piled on for good measure--even to the dark horse coming out of nowhere to redeem them all. But, still, Kinsolving offers enough horse action and background to make the bald-faced conventions palatable. Ho-hum high jinks, then, but Hollywood should love it.

Pub Date: May 16th, 1990
Publisher: Doubleday