Authors: Jane Smiley
“IRRESISTIBLE … [A] BEAUTIFULLY BRAIDED TALE … [SMILEY’S] SKILL AT PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBING IS SPLENDID; HER IMAGES ARE EVEN BETTER.”
The Wall Street Journal
“Smiley has written wonderful books before, but in this one she’s stretched her legs, charged forward, and won the race.…
is slyly hilarious—epic in length but never heavy in tone.… Featuring people (and animals) from every walk of racing life … Smiley actually seems to like her characters, and it’s her affection for them that gives the book its extraordinary heart.”
“Sprawling, blithely satirical … Smiley’s wonderful, well, horse sense about human nature keeps this earthy comic epic on track.”
“Exhilarating … There’s no story she can’t tell.… A 600-page work of genius that creates the effect you might have gotten if Anthony Trollope and Honoré de Balzac had collaborated on all the
books at once.… Smiley has given us suspense, insight, sex, magic, shopping, love, breakdown, comeback, surprise and gripping, large-hearted delight. It may be
, but it’s also book heaven.”
San Jose Mercury News
“We’re off to the races with Jane Smiley in
, and it’s one heck of a ride.… If this novel were a racehorse, it would be keeping company with Secretariat.… Give
a try, and odds are you’ll be tuning in to the Triple Crown this year. And if you’re already a horse person, Smiley’s book will find you in clover. You can bet on it.”
The Orlando Sentinel
“Thrilling … You don’t have to be a rider or a gambler to be charmed by this sly racetrack comedy.… Having lined her characters up in the starting gate of her opening chapters, Smiley skillfully propels each story forward as the upcoming Breeder’s Cut accelerates the drama.”
New York Daily News
“AN ABSORBING READ.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“[A] stunningly perceptive and passionate take on the world of horse racing … You’d no sooner get me to read a book on horse racing than get me on a racehorse. Yet I was cheering as the sixteen-year-old jockey rode to his victory; gasping as a front-runner stumbled; praying as a vet helped a mare through a harsh labor. Fine writer, perfect form.”
“Smiley unceremoniously plunges us into a torrent of character and event, trusting that we will emerge transformed by her exhilarating baptism, and we do. By the novel’s finish, the world of horses has become at once radiant in its particularities and as familiar as our own.”
The New Yorker
“Delicious … It’s fast-paced, intricately plotted, witty and sad. It offers adventure, love, more characters than a Russian novel, and some edge-of-your-seat race scenes. It has the ability to wrench the heart of even a non-horse person like myself.”
combines the taut excitement of Dick Francis with the charming anthropomorphism of Anna Sewell for a result that’s pure Smiley—astutely researched and utterly captivating.… A breezy fascinating ride through the minds, hearts, and hands of horses and horse fanciers.”
The Baltimore Sun
“Engaging and exuberant, this one is a winner.… A meaty, lusty exploration of the complex world of horse breeding and racing.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Another winner … Written with high spirits and enthusiasm, distinguished by Smiley’s wry humor, the novel gallops into the home stretch without losing momentum.”
“ONE OF THE MOST PURELY PLEASURABLE
LONG READS TO COME ALONG IN YEARS.”
“Astonishing … Smiley’s new novel is enormous and overflowing—a cheerful, generous monster of a book. But like a thoroughbred, all that power and size come in a splendid shape, kept under perfect control.… The novel is Dickensian in its multiplicity, its minor and mischievously named comic characters, its length, and its wit.”
The Austin Chronicle
“A profound act of love … Each character is rendered with Smiley’s characteristic and exceptional humanity.”
“Compelling … a good ripping yard … Like a good race, Smiley’s prose gallops ahead at breakneck speed.”
New York Post
“A remarkable literary achievement … With
, [Smiley] makes us care about horses the way E. B. White made us care about pigs in
, and makes us understand them the way Walter Tevis made us understand chess in
The Queen’s Gambit.
And as with everything Smiley writes, she rides this uneven turf with the calm of a jockey who knows she won’t be thrown.”
“Funny, passionate, and brilliant … The strange, compelling, sparkling, and mysterious universe of horse racing that has fascinated generations of punters and robber barons, horse-lovers and wits, has never before been depicted with such verve and originality, such tenderness, such clarity, and, above all, such sheer exuberance.”
“Fastpaced … compelling fiction … Several horses here are given such names as Nureyev, Lorenzo de Medici, and Ivan Boesky. If one named Jane Smiley ever shows up in the racing form, you might just want to bet the farm on her.”
BY JANE SMILEY
At Paradise Gate
Ordinary Love & Good Will
A Thousand Acres
The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton
Ten Days in the Hills
A Year at the Races: Reflections on Horses, Humans, Love, Money, and Luck
Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel
The gentle reader of this “comic epic poem in prose” is hereby reminded that all locations, characters, and events mentioned herein, including those whose names seem familiar, are figments of the author’s imaginings, and their characteristics as represented bear no relationship to real life.
Copyright © 2000 by Jane Smiley
Photographs copyright © 2000 by Norman Mauskopf
Reading group guide copyright © 2001 by Jane Smiley and The Ballantine
Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., in 2000.
This edition published by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
To the memory of T
(Ger.), by Luciano out of Templeogue, by Prodomo (fifty-two starts, seven wins, eight seconds, and three thirds in France and the United States), this novel is dedicated with love and gratitude.
And to Jack Canning, likewise.
Thank you, especially, to Dr. Gregory L. Ferraro, D.V.M., of Davis, California, and to Jim Squires, of Lexington, Kentucky, for their endless patience, help, and kindness; and to Dave Hofmans, Eddie Gregson, Dr. Mike Fling, Dr. Gary Deter, Roy and Andre Forzani, Benjamin Bycel, Bea and Derek DiGrazia, John Grassi, Nana Faridany, Rick Moss, Ray Berta, Tara Baker, Stefano Cacace, Bob Armstead, and countless others who gave of their time, their expertise, and, best of all, their wit.