What can I say? Geraldine Brooks is one of the finest writers living today. She’s already won a Pulitzer. With her brand new novel, HORSE, she most certainly is on her way toward yet another!
I did not devour HORSE. I savored it. I did research while reading it because there is so much true history in this magnificent story. I craved more knowledge about the greatest racehorse in American history. I wanted to know more about behind the scenes in horse racing. And I wanted to know all about the paintings.
The novel shifts back in forth in time from 1850 when the horse was born, to 1954 when we meet Martha Jackson who is a gallery owner who often takes risks, to 2019 in Washington, D.C. where we meet Jess who is a scientist from Australia who unearths the skeleton of Lexington hidden away, forgotten, in an attic in the Smithsonian Institute. She and Theo who is a Nigerian-American art historian are an unlikely duo but their story is tantamount to making this novel so compelling.
So much deep research has gone into making this book wonderful. I loved Lexington from the moment of his birth. His ethereal bond with the young black enslaved Jerret wrapped itself around my heart and stayed there. Jerret and Lexington have a wonderful and unstoppable bond.
In the 1800’s slavery was very much an issue. Brooks brilliantly shows us the dark side of slave ownership. Our hearts break when Jerret’s father is able to buy his own freedom but not Jarret’s. And they call him Black Jerret. So there is that.
The scenes closer to present day are not without their own issues with race. I do love that the scientist is a young woman. Yes, young women are scientists. Not all young women want to grow up to be wives and mommy’s in this day and age. And Theo’s character is super. When he pulls a picture of Lexington from the top of a heap of trash tossed to the street by his neighbor, he has no idea what he has.
This is an amazing story based on truth. It is embedded in art, science, and love and obsession. And it throbs with racism.
I watched The Belmont last week and had just read HORSE. I had a new outlook on the race. Mixed feelings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8uRNel2aG8
The character of Jarret was inspired from an old issue of Harper’s Magazine. A wonderful character who will be remembered always.
There are insightful pages in the back of the book filled with more research to go to about Lexington. Yes, he was really the greatest racehorse in American history, and he’s been hidden away.
I received a digital review copy of HORSE by Geraldine Brooks from Penguin Random House via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I see GREAT things ahead for HORSE. It is a stunner. I loved it!