What We Are Reading – Horse
What We Are Reading – Horse by Geraldine Brooks
Based on the remarkable true story of Lexington, a record-breaking racehorse, Horse is not only the story of a racehorse and his owners but a tale of slavery and its effect down the generations to the present day.
The story is led by three narratives, brought together by a painting of Lexington. The race training circuit in Kentucky in the 1850s, the New York art scene in the 1950s, and Washington DC in 2019. The novel is beautifully written with compelling characters, extensively researched history, and delivers a devastating end that is a stinging rebuke against slavery in America.
As a horse lover, I picked up this book on the title alone, but then devoured Brooks’ sensitive and thrilling storytelling as fast as Lexington himself ran.
A discarded painting in a junk pile, a skeleton in an attic, and the greatest racehorse in American history: from these strands, a Pulitzer Prize winner braids a sweeping story of spirit, obsession, and injustice across American history
Kentucky, 1850. An enslaved groom named Jarret and a bay foal forge a bond of understanding that will carry the horse to record-setting victories across the South. When the nation erupts in civil war, an itinerant young artist who has made his name on paintings of the racehorse takes up arms for the Union. On a perilous night, he reunites with the stallion and his groom, very far from the glamor of any racetrack.
New York City, 1954. Martha Jackson, a gallery owner celebrated for taking risks on edgy contemporary painters, becomes obsessed with a nineteenth-century equestrian oil painting of mysterious provenance.
Washington, DC, 2019. Jess, a Smithsonian scientist from Australia, and Theo, a Nigerian-American art historian, find themselves unexpectedly connected through their shared interest in the horse—one studying the stallion’s bones for clues to his power and endurance, the other uncovering the lost history of the unsung Black horsemen who were critical to his racing success.
Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, Horse is a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism.