Horses Never Lie About Love: The Heartwarming Story Of A Remarkable Horse Who Changed The World Around Her, by Jana Harris
I must say that what I got from this book was not quite as enjoyable as what I expected to get. This book would appear, at least if one judges its lengthy title and subtitle, to provide a look at a loving and inspirational horse. What one gets instead is a somewhat gossipy look at the life of a person seeking to run a horse farm and not being particularly skilled at it, to the point where the book’s proceeds and advances were likely needed to avoid making a total mess of it. That is not to say that this is by any means a bad book. A gossipy book about the life of an academic in the country fulfilling a long-held dream of running a horse farm and not being particularly good at it can be the material of good books and even great books. That said, the expectation of this should be made, and the author needs to have at least some sense of self-awareness, providing a comic sense of irony between the account and what the reader and author both realize to be the truth. The author does not seem quite self-aware enough to make this a comic masterpiece of blundering, but at the same time the author is honest enough to make the blundering obvious without being entirely aware that it undercuts her own self-appraisal.
This book is organized in roughly chronological fashion as a tale told, with flashbacks, of a woman’s attempt to run a horse farm in rural Washington on the extra money her and her husband make as professors. The author appears to have ridden and loved horses for a long time but doesn’t have quite enough money to make a big splash in running a horse farm. So she buys a skittish and scarred mare who turns out to be preggers and then acquires and sells a variety of horseflesh over the next few years as she deals with the economics of mares and foals, the space limitations she has that requires her to avoid increasing the net amount of her amount of horses, and the problems she has shoeing, taking care of, and selling her beloved horses. One really gets a sense of the difficulty one has in taking care of skittish but honest animals as well as the way in which vets and others are not always as competent in handling horses as one might assume. The author’s prose shows a lot of interest in local gossip, including the marriages and personal lives of the people she works with, and one gets a sense that not everyone talked about here is going to be happy about what the author has to say. People get nervous about being too close and personal with authors, after all.
Indeed, it is the little things and not the big things that make this book not quite as good as it could easily have been in the hands of a more skillful and less self-serious author. Indeed, had the author not taken herself so seriously she could have made her jokes about her husband, her drug-addled vet, her humorous but not very romantically successful neighbor, and all of the other crazy characters who populate these pages more entertaining. As it was, there was entertainment value to be found but not quite as many as one would hope. And it should be noted as well that at least for me, it would have been far better to have labeled the loss of unborn horses as a miscarriage rather than as an abortion, because it reminded me of the relationship between property rights and language in an unpleasant way that took away from the enjoyment of the story. This book aspired to be a comic masterpiece, but as it is it is merely the memoir of a wannabe horse farmer who can’t quite admit to herself or the reader that she is by no means as smart as she thinks she is, even if she is blessed by the quality of her horses.