Book reviews are something I’d like to start doing more of on the blog. I love books and I have recently discovered audio books. I just love them! I started listening to books rather than reading as I found I just didn’t ever have the time or the inclination to sit and read anymore. The problem was I love the stories and missed reading. So my solution has been to start listening to books and I haven’t looked back. My latest book was ‘The Horse Dancer’ by Jojo Moyes. Although technically not an equestrian book. It really was! I really enjoyed the book and think other horse lovers would too, so here is my review of ‘The Horse Dancer’.
What is it about?
It’s a story of a 14 year old girl (Sarah) whose grandfather (Henri) was in the highly acclaimed ‘Cadre Noir’ French classical riding academy. He loved horses and had made it to the top level during his time at the Cadre Noir but gave it all up for love when he met Florence an English girl who he married.
The story shows us Henri and his granddaughter Sarah living in a high rise flat in central London keeping their classically trained Selle Français Boo in an urban stables under a nearby railway track, training in parks with an aim that one day Sarah too, will join the Cadre Noir.
Meanwhile Natasha a children’s lawyer, along with her husband Mac of whom she recently separated from crosses paths with Sarah after her grand father had fallen ill and ends up taking her under her wing. Sarah is hiding something and it ends up changing all of their lives.
I found in this book there were some really lovable characters. But also I found that I didn’t love all the characters. But that didn’t change that I loved the story. For example Sarah, the lead character is a 14 year old girl from a very disadvantaged background. Her secretiveness was necessary for the story but in reality she was so frustrating! That didn’t stop me willing her on to succeed though. Natasha was another character that I wanted to like but I only ever found her to be alright. Mac on the other hand was very likeable. I also loved that the story featured a black cowboy! Cowboy John ran the urban stables where Boo lived, he seemed kind although a bit quirky and his character added to the stables peculiarity as a little haven hidden from the rest of the world in the middle of central London.
Parts of the book I loved
For me the parts of the book that I loved the most was Henri and Sarah’s passion for their horse. Their dedication to their dream of Sarah being able to ride in The Cadre Noir just like her grand father did. In parts of the book it shows that Sarah will do anything to keep Boo and achieve her dream of riding in Saumar. The books brought tears to my eyes when the book spoke of the bond Sarah and Boo had. Something I could relate to with my horse. I also really loved the parts about the Cadre Noir, of which I was vaguely familiar with before but now I have really read up about them.
For me the book features two of my favourite things. Horses and France!
I also loved the parts of the book that focused on Natasha’s relationship with Sarah. Natasha struggles to bond with her, which I thought was actually very realistic and something that could very easily happen if you suddenly fostered a 14 year old girl that you didn’t know.
Parts of the book I didn’t love as much
My biggest complaint about the book was that it was very long. It is 17 hours 23 mins long as an audio book. Most books are between 8-12 hours long for a comparison. For me, I found parts of Mac and Natasha’s story too long. It was nice to have some background about them but particularly when it followed Natasha’s work I was willing the book to get back to Sarah & Boo’s story.
Would I recommend it?
Yes! For any horse lover that likes a good story. I picked the book as the title stood out to me ‘The Horse Dancer’ as I thought it might vaguely feature horses. I was really pleasantly surprised that the whole story revolved around Sarah and her horse Boo. I enjoyed Sarah and Boo’s relationship throughout the book and I remembered how obsessed I was with my horse at her age (still at now in my thirties actually!). I also liked that the horse stuff was accurate and correct for a non horsey book. Isn’t it the worst when films or books totally get everything wrong about horses?! Not the case here!
It was a bit of a slog in parts just due to the length of the book but in the end it was totally worth it. I’d give it 8/10.
If you enjoy horse books be sure to check the In Due Horse Book Club on Facebook. It’s free to join and it’s run by me. Each quarter we read a different horsey book and it’s a space just to chat about horses and books. To join click here https://www.facebook.com/groups/468443243939032