I started reading this book but stopped after the first few chapters. There were too many terms about horses that I didn't understand and couldn't find in a dictionary, so I didn't really know what the author was talking about. Someone who is a horse afficiado or doesn't care about the definitions of words would probably enjoy this book.
This is a charming and well-written story. It's predictable, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The book follows a woman, her parents, her daughter and her parents' riding center. It tells a complex and heart-warming story.
An earlier book by the author of Water for Elephants. This is a much more simple book, but I enjoyed it as I love horses, and show jumping in particular. So any horse lovers out there will particlarly enjoy this.
I was excited to pick up this book, mostly because of the hype about Water for Elephants. I have to admit that I started skimming about 2/3 of the way through. The protagonist, Annemarie, is often more despicable than sympathetic, and the book was making me cringe. She is utterly incompetent in her personal and professional life. Although, naturally, she finds her way in the end, it was difficult as a reader to struggle along with her. I'll read/skim the sequel, but only because I got both books at once and it's already on my shelf.
If you liked any part of the book The Horse Whisperer, then you will definitely like this book. It is based on a similar scenario but the building of suspense, combined with the internal twists and turns within the book, keep you turning each page and you don't want to put the book down. Definitely a weekend read when you have time to read the whole book! I was quite impressed and will be looking for other Sara Gruen books now!
There is no doubt about it: Sara Gruen can write. I read this first book in the series after I read the second one, Flying Changes, and I was impressed with both of them. It's a touching story of a woman finding her way through a life turned upside down - again - and doing her best to make the right choices. She's like anyone else who has ever been uncertain or felt like they were flying blind, so I could relate to everything she went through. I love that Sara Gruen's characters are so real, they could be your neighbor, your best friend, your sister, your mother...there is something for everyone to relate to here. I was sorry when it was over, and I hope there is a third book in the series.
After reading and loving Water for Elephants, I wanted to pick up more of Sara Gruen's novels. I was sorely disappointed. Riding Lessons was terrible. So terrible, in fact, that I only read about half of it. Part of the problem was that the topic just did not interest me. But, it didn't have the great writing and descriptions that Water for Elephants had. It was simplistic and totally predictable. I felt that the characters where shallow and cliche. This is one of her earlier novels, and Water for Elephants shows that she's grown as a writer. So, I haven't given up hope yet.
Great read. A story about a women who has to come back to the home she ran away from. Where her father is sick, her daughter is upset and her horse farm is about to go under. But then she sees another red and white horse and she can't believe it.
Just an okay book. Annemarie, the main character, is hard to like, thoughtlessly irritating in her unwillingness to grow up or do any introspection whatsoever. Her mother and daughter are both unsympathetic as well. The book really did not come together for me until the last chapter or two. Mostly I just wanted to reach into the pages and shake some of these people.
i picked this book up in Mexico on the book exchange table at the school where bea and i took spanish. id never heard of it but it's by the author of like water for elephants, which i loved so i thought id give it a try. so....its absolutely nothing like water for elephants. its written differently, in an..easier language, a little less sophisticated. its about a woman who when she was younger was a famous horse rider on her way to the olympics when she had a horrible accident and never rode again. shes now going through some life issues and everything comes back to her days as a young girl. i really liked it and am looking forward to reading the sequel.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am NOT a horse lover. There were horse terms that I was not familiar with but this did not take away from the story, which had to do with parental and love relationships. Love of horses was the factor that tied all the characters together.
Annemarie Zimmer is a whining, self-centered woman. After the first 50 pages, I just wanted to grab her and shake her. But I kept reading, hoping she would ultimately change. She didn't. When I finished the book, I wondered why I had wasted my time reading about a character who refused to learn, change or grow up. A waste...
I enjoyed this book. Parts of it dragged a bit and at times I wanted to shake some sense into Annemarie.Overall though I wanted to know how it all would turn out- maybe a bit too neatly wrapped up. I agree with other reviewers a pleasant weekend read :)
Becky L. reviewed Riding Lessons (Annemarie Zimmer, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 1
While it is obvious that Ms. Gruen has done some research on horses and equestrian activities, unfortunately the book reads somewhat like a checklist of her research findings. Because of this, I probably would have enjoyed the book much more if I were not an equestrian myself, since for me, the holes in the equine aspects of the story made the book as a whole less enjoyable.
The book opens with the terrible jumping accident that killed her beloved horse and nearly left her paralyzed, and the accident would be believable if it weren't for the list of the horse's fatal injuries: "...Harry's long pastern--the largest of the three bones between his hoof and foreleg--shattered into nine pieces." (This is believable, what follows is not): "His scapula, sternum, and pelvis were broken as well, but it was the pastern that clinched it." It appears that Ms. Gruen flipped through a horse anatomy book and picked out names of bones--it is simply not likely or reasonable that a seasoned jumper would sustain all of those injuries. The broken pastern would have been enough to require the horse to be put down.
Something else that is highly improbable is when the trainer, Jean-Claude, mounts a lesson horse at the family's stable, and proceeds to perform a series of dressage moves, which include a piaffe, which is believable, and then a capriole. A capriole is a very advanced dressage move performed by Lipizzan stallions in the tradition of warhorses--for a lesson horse at a training stable to perform the move is absurd. It made me think that Gruen attended a performance of the Lipizzan stallions, kept the program, and flipped through it to find elements for her book, no matter how far fetched.
Another disappointment for me as an equestrian came from her lack of knowledge about rodeo events, when her love interest and veterinarian rescues an Arabian from being tripped at Mexican rodeos, and the vet goes on to state how it can't really be banned since "cattle tripping" is held at most rodeos. I live in the West, have been to many rodeos, and have never heard of or seen an event known as "cattle tripping." There are roping events, but the least Gruen could have done is find out the correct names of the events.
Gruen's activism steps in, and a sense of preachiness seeps in when the main character's daughter, Eva, throws a fit about the production of the replacement hormone, Premarin, which is made from pregnant mare urine.
Writers have a certain obligation to make sure, even in fiction, that their subject matter is portrayed realistically, since most people's only exposure to things like FBI intrigue or equestrian events are only through the fiction books they read. Putting incorrect or improbable information out, even in the form of fiction, is irresponsible.
Determined to not let these missteps deter me completely, as I very much enjoyed "Water For Elephants," I kept reading. I may as well have not, since the writing is not spectacular, and the plot and characters are reminiscent of those in a Harlequin romance. The characters are all disappointingly flat, and the plot, while eventful (too eventful), was the stuff of made-for-TV movies, making the entire fiasco seem more of a puppet show for Gruen's pet causes than anything else.
After "Water For Elephants," I would have expected much, much better of Gruen than this.
I really ejoyed this book. I have always liked books that have horses as part of the plot, and this one is no exception. Annemarie and Eva go back to New Hampshire to live at Annemarie's parent's horse farm. They move back because her father is dying and her husband moved out of the house to live with his 23 year old girlfriend. Her father has ALS, which is an unpredictable disease. Annemarie meets an old boyfriend, and a tenative relationship builds. Her daughter Eva is very high spirited and difficult to control. However, after meeting the three main women in the book, you find that they all act alike so the daughter isn't so bad. There are various horses that you meet throughout the book, and a little mystery is involved. I recommend this book for people who like Rita Mae Brown's horse books. This book makes me want to read the second in the set.
this is an excellent book though it makes you feel like you save something you have lost or someone though the ending is excellent and well written from the beginning. I love horses and felt the same emotions of the main character.
Horselovers will like this book. I couldnt put it down. After a tragic accident a dream is over for and olympic contender and her horse.A move to manage her parents riding stables bring many experiences and a happy surprise .
This was a decent read - not nearly as good as Water For Elephants, but it was ok. I didn't find myself liking any of the characters, and most of the book is about how the main character, Annemarie, watches her life unravel, yet she never really changes. She's not a likeable person, and I didn't feel any sympathy for her.
I loved this story! The author obviously knows horses and show jumping; she captured the feeling of riding and being around horses perfectly, which is a rare feat. It's written in the first person, which I don't usually like--although Dick Francis wrote in first person his entire career and his stories are BRILLIANT--but author Sara Gruen made her main character complex enough to keep me reading each night long after I should have been asleep.
And funny thing...Annemarie Zimmer wasn't a particularly likeable character, but much in the same way as Jane Austen's Emma Woodhouse and Margaret Mitchell's Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone With The Wind," I found her fascinating and her reactions to dilemmas to be a terrific read. Such a well-written book; I'm looking forward to reading the sequel "Flying Changes"
This is a review of the audio version of this book originally published at Publisher's Weekly and I agree with it 100%. "When the main character in a novel is as annoying as a boil, an audio performer must be thrilled at the chance to portray someone who isn't particularly nice or competent. Maggi-Meg Reed's Annemarie shouts, cries, whines, cajoles and lies her way through escalating crises. Reed is superb. She does an equally adept rendering of the other characters, including Annemarie's mother, with her thick Austrian accent and tight-lipped stoic voice. Eve, Annemarie's daughter, is a perfectly petulant teenager, speaking to her mother in a strident and querulous tone. A local policewoman has such a perfect New Hampshire accent that one wonders why the other locals don't. Despite the unsympathetic Annemarie, Reed's stellar performance makes Gruen's 2004 debut novel hard to turn off."
Now my 2 cents - this audio book kept me coming back for more even though I was constantly yelling "I HATE ANNMARIE ZIMMER!" - the main character has so many flaws and is so unlikeable that it took the perfection of Maggi-Meg Reed's narration to keep me enthralled.
If you find yourself having a hard time reading the book, give the audio version a try. It's worth listening to.
I purchased this book because of my love of horses. I don't think you need to feel the same about horses to also enjoy the book, although there are many terms a layperson may not understand. You don't need to understand them to follow the story. The characters are well developed and enjoyable to follow. I read this book in 3 days and I'm a very slow reader.
I'm impressed with this author, she is very skilled in creating characters. The main character in this story isn't the perfect heroine some of the previous reviewers obviously wanted, but a "real" person, complete with flaws. She has struggles in many facets of her life just like many real people do. Sara Gruen also obviously knows many of the issues that trouble us in the "horse world" such as the plight of Premarin mares & foals. I'm looking forward to reading the second of the series "Flying Changes".
My book group chose this book. Two people loved it. I thought it was okay. (The other person wasn't there.)
I think the story line is interesting, and my friends thought it was compelling. I thought it lacked "beautiful writing", but had a story that moved forward.
Not my favorite, but it was okay.
I really enjoyed this book. It is a fast read, I read it in one day. This is the author that wrote Water for Elephants which I enjoyed also.
This is actually the authors first book so it seems a little predictable but I got caught up in the story and rolled with it. I recommend this book for a fast, fun summer read.
I loved this book! I have no intrest in horses and by looking at the cover, I thought this book would be somewhat dull. I would say that people who do have an intrest in horses would find this book to be very well suited for them. It submits a message that even if you are scared to try something over again after seeing the harsh reality in it, you must to completley overcome your fear and prove to yourself that life is full of challenging obstacles.
A good read from this author. It is definitely true to life (as demonstrated by the teenage daughter). I am not a "horsey" person, but I do love animals. I think that's all you need to enjoy this book.
Some parts rather frustrated me, in that I wanted to make the main character do something/stop doing something and of course I couldn't!
Started very well but the last quarter just fell apart it just tried too much and then was very predictable and boring to read. I will not bother to read the follow up . However Gruen's Water for Elephants was grand !.
I have just finished reading this book and I recommend it highly to anyone with a love for horses and anyone who just loves a good "read." Annemarie's story begins when she is involved in a serious injury just at the peak of what was expected to be a great career as a champion rider. The aftermath of the tragedy sees her turn away from horses and riding completely for many years. A series of life-chaning events puts her back at the ranch where she grew up and learned to love riding. The story of Annemarie and her family shows the tragic results of leaving old wounds unattended and old family hurts not mended. This is a book to be passed around to anyone who loves to read.
I loved the description of the main character's love of horses, but many items (cattle tripping?) were not believable.
Annemarie hurls herself through life, retreating and attacking without a single retrospective assessment of her situation.
With this quixotic decision making and shrieking when something happened that she didn't like, I really wanted to shake this immature, egotistical and emotion-driven main character many times and tell her to grow. She didn't.
I enjoyed the story although I wanted to shake some sense into the main character. Wish I knew a little more about the world of horse competitions - hadn't a clue as to what some of the terms meant. Would recommend this book to those who like a story which makes you shed a few tears.
As a world-class equestrienne Annemarie Zimmer lived for the thrill of flight atop a strong graceful animal. Than at 18 a tragic accident destroys her riding career and beloved horse Harry. Now 20 years later, she is returning home with her troubled teenage daughter to her dying father's horsefarm, where ghosts of an resolved youth still haunt the fields and stables, and where hope lives in the eyes of the handsome gentle veterinarian she loved as a girl... and in the seductive allure of a trainer with a magic touch.