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Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen

Riding Lessons

by Sara Gruen

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Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
I loved Gruen’s book Water for Elephants so when I saw this book, which was her first, on sale at my favourite book store I snapped it up. The fact that it took me 8 years to get around to reading it just indicates how large my TBR pile is and how easily distracted I am from reading books in hand by new books. It does not mean that I was reluctant to read it and when I did I enjoyed it.
Annemarie Aldrich was living a perfect life in Minneapolis (or at least she thought she was) with a patent lawyer husband, a fifteen year old daughter and a demanding job as a software editor. Then, in a few short days her life imploded; she was fired from her job, her husband told her he was leaving her for a woman 15 years her junior and she learned her father had ALS. When her daughter got expelled from school she took her back to her parents’ horse farm in New Hampshire. Her plan was to manage the horse training stable while her mother devoted her days to looking after her father. Managing a farm was not rocket science she told her mother. It did, however, turn out to be much more difficult than she expected. Then her past was resurrected in the form of a horse that brought back all her emotions from 20 years before when she was an Olympic class horse jumper. Her horse, Harry, broke a leg coming down from a jump and Annemarie was badly injured and Harry had to be shot. She never rode again to her parents’ disappointment. Now a horse that looks almost exactly like Harry was rescued from certain death by the local vet (and Annemarie’s one-time boyfriend), Dan Garibaldi. When you throw in the trials of dealing with a headstrong teenage girl and the anguish of seeing a parent diminish almost daily from disease, Annemarie has a tough time dealing with everything.
I didn’t exactly like Annemarie; she was too wrapped up in herself to see the problems others around her were dealing with. She resented her parents for driving her to excel but she also obviously loved the competition. Even with her father dying she didn’t try to reconcile with him and she was often angry with her mother. Her daughter was certainly a handful but that is almost a requisite for teenagers; Annemarie kept her on a very tight leash and then was surprised when she disobeyed. Annemarie never seemed to think that her daughter was having a hard time dealing with the divorce and the separation from her father. However, by the end of the book she does seem to have learned some important life lessons and we can only hope that they will hold. ( )
  gypsysmom | Mar 25, 2017 |
The horses, the plot, the supporting characters - all superb.

The main character was self-centered, selfish, spoiled, unaware of anything beyond herself.

And yet, haven't we all met people like that? Annamarie is true-to-life. So much so that I'd have put the book down, if not for the rest.

I wonder if the author did it on purpose, to see if she could.

Don't get me wrong - I like real characters, flawed characters. But this one pushed my limits...hard.
It's a matter of degree. I saw not much to admire in Annamarie. Even at the end, she doesn't achieve a clear picture of herself - just kind of gets bailed out by those around her who love her, in spite of herself.

Even so, I liked the book, and will next read Flying Changes.

Is this a good review, or a negative one? I'm not sure! ( )
  Laura_Drake | Aug 19, 2016 |
Annemarie has a Country & Western song life: she has been laid off her job, her husband announced that he was leaving her for a woman slightly older than her troubled adolescent daughter, and her father has a life threatening disorder. She and daughter have decided to return home to family's horse farm to see about her parents, assist in the farm's operations. and to plan her next steps. While there she becomes reacquainted with an old boyfriend and confronts old memories when she was training to be an Olympian equestrian before an horse show accident left her paralyzed for some time. A book discussion group challenge to read a novel featuring a horse spurred me to read this novel (pun intended). Additionally, this was the debut novel by the Water for Elephants author. Although enjoyable at times, it was more poorly written in my humble opinion compared to her later novel. ( )
  John_Warner | Jan 19, 2016 |
Interesting story, pretty well written, but it seemed like it was a bit scatter-brained.... seemed like it was kind of hard to tie up all the loose ends. Fun read, though. ( )
  trayceetee | Nov 15, 2014 |
Rather disappointingly, I didn't enjoy Riding Lessons nearly as much as the first book I read by Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants. Riding Lessons is about a woman who suffered a terrible riding accident in her late teens, cutting off her Olympic ambitions. 20 years later, jobless, getting divorced, and with a difficult teenage daughter, she returns to the family home (where her father is dying) to figure out her life. The book was a quick read and relatively engaging, but I never felt really drawn into the plot the way I did with Water for Elephants. I actually found the main character quite tiresome. She repeatedly does incredibly stupid and irrational things and I felt like shaking some sense into her. The story is told in the first person from her perspective and I didn't feel like the author did it convincingly enough to make me understand why she was acting the way she did.

Since this was Gruen's first novel, that is a good sign that she actually improved as a writer. I will certainly read her fourth novel, Ape House, in the hopes that it is more like Water for Elephants, but I don't know if I will read the sequel to this one, Flying Changes. ( )
  sbsolter | Feb 6, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061241083, Paperback)

As a world-class equestrian and Olympic contender, Annemarie Zimmer lived for the thrill of flight atop a strong, graceful animal. Then, at eighteen, a tragic accident destroyed her riding career and Harry, the beautiful horse she cherished.

Now, twenty years later, Annemarie is coming home to her dying father's New Hampshire horse farm. Jobless and abandoned, she is bringing her troubled teenage daughter to this place of pain and memory, where ghosts of an unresolved youth still haunt the fields and stables—and where hope lives in the eyes of the handsome, gentle veterinarian Annemarie loved as a girl . . . and in the seductive allure of a trainer with a magic touch.

But everything will change yet again with one glimpse of a white striped gelding startlingly similar to the one Annemarie lost in another lifetime. And an obsession is born that could shatter her fragile world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:23 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Twenty years after a tragic accident destroyed her riding career, Olympic aspirations, and beloved horse, Annemarie Zimmer returns to her dying father's New Hampshire horse farm with her troubled teenage daughter and encounters two men who could change her life--the gentle veterinarian she had loved as a girl and the seductive trainer with a gift for working with horses.… (more)

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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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