A True Inquiry Into Art, Love,Obsession and Racism
Geraldine Brooks' latest novel Horse, a heartfelt modern-day interracial romance with a background of thoroughbred racing in the South, is not a sure thing. A discarded painting, an attic skeleton, and the greatest racehorse in American history: a Pulitzer Prize-winning American weaves an overarching story of spirit, obsession, and injustice throughout American history from these threads.The horse is more than just an animal story; it is also a poignant story about racing and art. Nonetheless, this must-have library makes the White Rain Book House bestseller list for readers who value painstaking historical research and excellent storytelling.
The tale opens in Washington, DC, when art expert Theo rescues a painting of Lexington, one of America's most famous racehorses, from a dumpster next door. Theo transports the relic to the Smithsonian for examination and meets Jess, who is repairing the same horse's bones for an exhibition. Theo, who is black, recognizes Jess as the white woman who accosted Jess earlier when she thought he had stolen her bike. When the couple starts to fall in love, Theo wonders how he will explain how they met, because "being suspected of bike theft was not a very good meeting," he thinks.
The story then jumps forward to 1850, the year Lexington was born on doctor Elisha Warfield's Kentucky farm. Warfield tells skilled Black trainer Harry Lewis that he will be interested in the racehorse rather than an annual wage. It's an exciting prospect, because Lewis intends to use his future profits to free Warfield's enslaved son, Jarret. Jarret is proving to be as bit as gifted as his father. He spends all of his waking hours on horseback, eventually raising one of the greatest racing stallions in turf history via hard labor and unrelenting dedication. Unfortunately, his father will not survive to see or benefit from his accomplishment.Brooks is noted for her rigorous research, and she states in the novel's epilogue that while exploring the archives, she was influenced by accounts of Black grooms, trainers, and jockeys "who played a crucial role in the wealth creation of antebellum purebreds." These crucial figures are, of course, lurking on the outskirts of history, which Brooks was always eager to investigate. March, his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, portrayed the Civil War adventures of pastor John March, the fictional father of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women characters. Caleb's Crossing, set in 1665, detailed the account of the first Indian to graduate from Harvard College.Horse exchanges places with Jarret in 1850 and Theo and Jess in 2019, carrying the terrible burden of understanding systemic racism's deep roots and tragic endurance. When questioned for his thoughts, Jarret looks away and says, "It wasn't a good idea to talk to a white stranger without thinking about it first. Words can be deceptive." One hundred and seventy years later, Theo, the son of an Oxford-educated polo player, is unable to avoid the racist references that pervade even the most basic conversations. The woman flinches as he approaches to assist his neighbor with her shopping. Theo took a deep breath as he felt his normal flash of rage.
Brooks' novel began as a story about a racehorse, but as he begins investigating the history of thoroughbred racing in America, he writes: "Racing," and the novel is ultimately about race. Despite the title, the horse, Lexington, is a minor figure in the story. thus he became more of a running character, and the novelist raised the stakes by doing so. Horse is an art and science, a novel of our unfinished struggle with love, obsession, and prejudice, based on the incredible true story of the record-breaking purebred Lexington, is available at the White Rain Book House.