Saturday, July 13, 2013
St. Martin's Press, 2013
Adult History Non-Fiction
Source: Received an ARC from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.
This book first got my attention when I saw it featured by the publisher on Netgalley; unfortunately my copy expired before I got to it so I was pleased to see it for offer on Amazon Vine, giving me another chance to check out what seemed to be billed as a very gripping read. While it was not to my taste, I think there will be fans of the story.
I've always heard that little girls love horses but maybe there was something wrong with me because I never got it. Horses are big and smelly and I had less than zero interest in them. Instead I was interested in this book because of the billing of a daring heiress (Marion duPont), teenage jockey (Bruce Hobbs), an American horse (the titular Battleship), and the converging paths of all the people necessary to make a racing legend like Battleship.
The conclusion to this book with that final race that made his name was very exciting. It shows clearly all the hard work and time invested that was necessary to reach that point. However many of the passages before that bored me. There was so much information about horses and racing and I did not care nor did I need full recaps of all the races that even remotely related to the story. My expectation of this book was that it would be filled with engaging writing and be accessible to laymen and I don't feel like it met either of those.
I did enjoy the passages that focused more on the humans especially Marion's life of seemingly confirmed spinsterhood in an era that really condemned such a fate to two somewhat surprising marriages against her lifelong passion for horses. The jockey, Bruce's, story was also fascinating with his tough upbringing under his strict horse-mad trainer father that led to the very tall young man riding to victory on a comparatively small horse.
Overall: Not to my taste at all!
Note: As I read an ARC, it lacked footnotes or endnotes and pictures, both of which I hope are in the final product. I would love to see how Battleship stacked up next to the bigger horses mentioned over the course of the novel.