Tuesday, February 1, 2011

If Wishes Were Horses . . .

. . . then this book really would not have been written. Seriously.

Cave-painting Style Horse Key Chain Included!
I'm sorry, William Morrow (imprint of HarperCollins Publishers), but you asked. 

They did. A few weeks ago an HC rep wrote me through the blog, asking if I might like to read and review this new novel, alleging breathlessly, among other things, that it was, best of all, about horses. I love horses + I love to read = why not. Throw wintertime in there, too.

I wrote a book many years ago, so, despite the fact that I put it away forever in a file cabinet drawer, I'm fully aware of how much work it can be. It is hard work. And that comment consists of the entirety of my praise for If Wishes Were Horses.

This novel has about as much to do with horses as I do with world peace. "World peace" is a concept I am familiar with, but other than being kind where I can and sensitive when I'm able, my involvement with world peace is just that, conceptual.

Apparently the author of this book has a conceptual involvement with horses. There are not many horses populating the maudlin swill that is the story line, but I feel terrible for all of them. How else to feel about poor Sadie, a pregnant Quarter horse mare who stands around in the foaling stall wearing a "bridle" all day? She is the one horse who has a line or two; the others have small walk-on parts that offer one thing in common. All of the horses are "spurred," regardless of who is riding them, i.e., Wyatt threw himself up into the saddle again then wheeled the mare around. After leaving the barn [Editor: !], he steered the horse toward a dirt road heading northwest, and he spurred her into a light canter. One horse has to be shot after a ludicrous jumping accident related to impending Alzheimer's (not kidding) but all the others pretty much go through their days on a multi-million-dollar JR Ewing-type spread outside Boca Raton, Florida, getting spurred.

And women. They are the beneficiaries of the author's conceptual understanding as well. First, a caveat. I think of myself as human first, animal-lover second, interested world citizen third, but female, woman, whatever, that's somewhere way down the list. That particular identity just doesn't matter to me. Still, even I couldn't help but notice all the unfortunate women strangling in dick-mitten stereotypes around the story. How could I not? Nearly all of them benefit from the same misogynistic clause: At thirty-five she remained a very attractive woman. Remained? At forty-five, Celia remained an attractive woman. Poor Celia, that 10-years'  difference cost her a "very." Ouch.

Key Chain Includes Awful  Novel, Too!
This is a book that was written with casting in mind, which is really too bad, because it probably will get made into a movie. I'm not including the author photo, but it's easy to believe he imagines himself to be just like Robert Redford in The Horse Whisperer. The Hollywood pitch will go kind of like this: Reeling from the death of his wife and young son at the hands of a drunk driver, wealthy but hurt Wyatt's world is turned upside down when he falls in love with remaining attractive Gabby, widow of the very same drunk who shattered his world! And she has a tortured teenaged son, too! It's time for "Equestrian Therapy," which inevitably culminates in Ride me, baby! This mawkish, predictable and wearily formulaic novel "spurred" me more than once to throw it aside for something better, like the side of a Corn Pops box, but I clawed my way to the end because I just had to know . . . that I knew exactly how it would end. Poor, poor Sadie.

But it is beyond me to understand the key chain that came with the book. Quarter horse? I don't think so. Cave painting.

13 comments:

Ashley said...

This is a hysterical review! I found myself laughing out loud. Poor Sadie, bridled in the foaling stall. LOL!!!

Wolfie said...

Fantastic review! I hope you get another book to read and review. :-)

Calm, Forward, Straight said...

Poor Celia *snort* !!

Carol said...

Great review! Yuk. Thanks for the warning. You remain an interesting blogger :)

Muddy K said...

Ashley, thanks so much.

Wolfie, after a review like that, do you really think I'd get another chance? Hmmm... Not.

I know, CFS, right?

Carol, you kill me. What? I'm not a "very" interesting blogger?

horsemom said...

Teehee, love the review! I'm not a fiction reader, haven't been since my teen years, but I do roll my eyes at author's weird ways of trying to use horses to pull in readers when they have no knowledge of them.
This one sounds delightfully awful:)

OnTheBit said...

I will so avoid that book so thanks for the review! The Keychain I can shed some light on...it is a bottle opener! I have one from a thing a few years back. It actually works very well...ugly as it might be...and don't we all need bottle openers as keychains since drinking and driving is such a great combo :P

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

Hilarious! :)

June said...

Funny!

You definitely should go into the book reviewing business.

Annette said...

That was the most entertaining and honest book review that I have ever read!

Rising Rainbow said...

Thanks for the honest review. If you don't like it, you don't like it. That's cool. And now this is one book I won't need to read. LOL

I still have a review to post. I didn't particularly care for the book although other bloggers who read it did. Not an easy thing to do, post in the negative when you know a positive is expected. I decided, since there were so many good reviews that maybe I was having a bd day (I was certainly in the middle of a bad time), that I would give it some time and reread to see if anything changed in my opinion. Then I'm going to post.

Good for you telling us what you truly feel!

Sue M said...

If daytime soaps were horses . . .

Lauren said...

HAHHAHAAH. Loved that, thank you.