Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Book Review: The Eighty-Dollar Champion

I was lucky enough to win an ARC of the book below over on LibraryThing courtesy of the Early Reviewer's group. I've collected a number of titles this way - it's a fun program, if you're interested in getting your hands on new titles before or just as they're published. But sometimes it's a mixed blessing - even when I'm careful to request only those books that look appealing, sometimes there's a real dud in the bunch. Not this time, thankfully!

ARC reviewed.

I grew up on Walter Farley and C.M Montgomery's horse stories, reading about throwing your heart over the fence so your horse would follow; about the look of eagles. In Snowman's story, I found a return to that feeling.

A true rescue, purchased for $80 off the back of a kill buyer's truck, Snowman found a home with an immigrant Dutchman and his family. Over the next several years the big white horse and his adopted family leaped to heights and fame, stealing the hearts of an American public ripe for a humble hero of the people. For horseman Henry de Leyer, dubbed the "Flying Dutchman" by the press, the big dirty grey horse dubbed Snowman by the de Leyer children would provide the chance to live out a dream. In return, his jumping days past, the gelding was allowed to live out his life in comfort - a far cry from the violent end he was bound for so many years before.

In spite of the typos (ARC copy), this is a charming, heartwarming story only occasionally rendered pedantic by the shoehorning in of some relevant but slightly distracting block of big-picture history. If you're a horse-lover, or know one, this rags-to-riches story of the small-town horse and his family making good on the national stage is a lovely one.

Published by Ballantine Books, it will be available on August 23rd, 2011.

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