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Review: Riding Lessons

March 11, 2011

Eighteen year old Annemarie Zimmer was a world-class equestrian and Olympic contender until a horrible accident destroyed her dreams and the horse she loved.  After her long recovery, Annemarie walks away from the life she had and the parents who pushed her into it.    She moves away, gets married and has a daughter.

Twenty years later, a divorced and jobless Annemarie and her daughter return home to help out on the family’s horse farm because her father is dying.  Things are different than Annemarie expects, so coming home is not without turmoil.   She takes on more than she can handle, and things seem to spiral out of control, especially when she discovers a horse that reminds her of the one she loved years ago.  Her obsession with that horse could be the thing that destroys her life.

I listened to Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen and I was captivated from the very start.  Annemarie is such a likable character that it’s easy to understand her motivations, even when she’s making poor decisions.  It’s easy to tell that her childhood spent on horses and the tragic accident she was in had a huge effect on her that she still hasn’t been able to overcome.

Her relationship with her daughter was so true to life, as was her mother’s defense of her daughter.  At times it seemed her daughter did whatever she could to aggravate Annemarie and that Annemarie always suspected the worst of her daughter.   I know that’s not typical of every mother-daughter relationship, but it rings true for many during the teen years.

I loved this book and was anxious to see how things would turn out for Annemarie.  There were lots of twists and turns that kept my interest.  Because she almost felt like a friend, I rooted for Annemarie and cringed when she made poor decisions.

I listened to the audio version of Riding Lessons and part of the magic was in the phenomenal narration of Maggi-Meg Reed.  This is the second time I’ve listened to a book she’s read and I have to say I’m a huge fan of hers – her inflections and accents are second to none!  She made the book come alive for me.

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2011 6:56 am

    I LOVE Sara Gruen. Okay. I loved Water for Elephants, but I have yet to grab another of her books. I am glad to see that this one translates to audio well. I will def. pick it up!

  2. March 11, 2011 7:13 am

    Nice review, Kathy. After I read Water For Elephants (a few years ago) I wanted to read more of SG’s novels. I read and enjoyed Riding Lessons and then Flying Changes.

  3. March 11, 2011 8:01 am

    Beautiful review. I can’t wait to read this one! I think Sara Gruen is beyond talented.

  4. March 11, 2011 9:58 am

    That sounds good – I am always looking for good audio choices. 🙂

  5. March 11, 2011 10:01 am

    I don’t know if I could read a book with sad animal things happening!

  6. March 11, 2011 10:06 am

    I hadn’t heard of this book yet, but I really love Gruen and imagine that I would really like this book as well. It sounds like it’s a sort of emotional story, which also intrigues me. Great review! I am glad to hear that you liked the book!

  7. March 11, 2011 10:38 am

    This sounds like a good one Kathy – maybe a little sad for me still though. Glad you liked it.

  8. March 11, 2011 11:58 am

    I just want to read it because it is Sara Gruen!

  9. March 11, 2011 1:00 pm

    O I HAVE to read this one. Great review.
    Maybe I’ll try this audio book since you said the narrator is awesome.

  10. March 11, 2011 1:27 pm

    I’ll have to take a listen to this one. The story sounds really good and since I’ve been listening to audio books I’ve learned the joy of a great reader.

  11. March 11, 2011 2:20 pm

    I hated Annemarie but loved the book and I agree that Maggi-Meg Reed does a phenomenal job with the narrating.

  12. March 11, 2011 2:49 pm

    this sounds really great, thanks! for the great review, might try the audio version.

  13. March 11, 2011 4:51 pm

    Well, I alwys thought Water for Elephants was Gruen’s debut novel – learned something new today!

  14. March 11, 2011 5:11 pm

    Sounds nice and big + for that great narrator

  15. March 11, 2011 6:10 pm

    I’ve only read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, but this is an author I will happily read. I need to pick this one soon!

  16. stacybuckeye permalink
    March 11, 2011 6:40 pm

    This looks great. I really need to start paying more attention to narrators I like.

  17. Jenners permalink
    March 11, 2011 9:20 pm

    Is this by the “Water for Elephants” Sara Gruen?

  18. March 11, 2011 9:54 pm

    I think I have a copy of this book that I won ages ago. I don’t usually listen to audio books, but you have me considering this one. I’m very picky about narrators.

  19. March 12, 2011 2:46 am

    I liked Water for Elephants, so I’m intrigued about this one. I love stories that revolve around horses. Thanks for the review.

  20. March 12, 2011 7:36 am

    I have several of Gruen’s books here, but I have yet to read her (hanging head in shame).

  21. March 13, 2011 9:27 am

    Yay!! I’m glad that you enjoyed this one. I bought it a few years ago on a clearance rack at B&N because I loved her other book so much.

  22. March 13, 2011 12:22 pm

    I hadn’t heard of this one before. I did like Water for Elephants, but have heard some dubious things about Ape House. This one sounds more up my alley.

  23. March 16, 2011 1:48 pm

    Glad to see you liked this one on audio. I thought about trying this one, but wasn’t too fond of Water for Elephants so I’ve not picked this one up yet.

  24. March 22, 2011 1:11 pm

    This sounds like something that I would enjoy picking up. I used to babysit for a family that loved horses and I kind of fell in love with them too during that time. Great review — I’m almost inspired to even pick this one up in its audio form.

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