Ride a Cockhorse (New York Review Books Classics) and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more

Buy New

Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
Buy Used
Used - Very Good See details
Price: 2.80

More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Start reading Ride a Cockhorse (New York Review Books Classics) on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Ride a Cockhorse (New York Review Books Classics) [Paperback]

Raymond Kennedy , Katherine A. Powers
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 9.99
Price: 6.34 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
You Save: 3.65 (37%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 3 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it Wednesday, 3 Sept.? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 6.02  
Paperback 6.34  

Book Description

24 July 2012 New York Review Books Classics

A revolution is under way at a once sleepy New England bank. Forty-five-year-old Frances Fitzgibbons has gone from sweet-tempered loan officer to insatiable force of nature almost overnight. Suddenly she’s brazenly seducing the high-school drum major, taking over her boss’s office, firing anyone who crosses her, inspiring populist fervor, and publicly announcing plans to crush her local rivals en route to dominating the entire banking industry in the northeast. The terrifying new order instituted by Frankie and her offbeat goon squad (led by her devoted hairdresser and including her own son-in-law) is an awesome spectacle to behold.

Brimming with snappy dialogue and gleeful obscenity, Ride a Cockhorse is a rollicking cautionary tale of small-town demagoguery that might be seen to prefigure both America’s current financial woes and the rise of Sarah Palin. Frances is in any case a beautiful monster of an antiheroine—resist her at your peril!

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: NYRB Classics; Reprint edition (24 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781590174890
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590174890
  • ASIN: 1590174895
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 12.8 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 621,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description


There is...something deeply compelling about Mrs Fitzgibbons. She is, clearly, monstrous and manipulative...but she sure as hell lights the story up (she is the story, of course) and we are, maturally, goggle-eyed to see what she'll get up to next

(The Guardian)

About the Author

RAYMOND KENNEDY (1934-2008) was born and raised in western Massachusetts. In 1982, he joined the creative writing faculty at Columbia University, where he taught until his retirement in 2006. Kennedy’s other novels include My Father’s Orchard; Goodnight, Jupiter; Columbine; The Flower of the Republic; Lulu Incognito; The Bitterest Age; and The Romance of Eleanor Gray.
KATHERINE A. POWERS's column on books and writers ran for many years in The Boston Globe and now appears in The Barnes & Noble Review under the title “A Reading Life.” She is the editor of Suitable Accommodations: An Autobiographical Story of Family Life—The Letters of J. F. Powers, 1942–1963, forthcoming in 2013.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

5 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The worm turns 4 Sep 2012
By Eleanor TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Ride a Cockhorse" begins with two major changes in Frankie Fitzgibbons's life: 'the discovery that she possessed a gift for persuasive speech' and 'the sudden quickening of her libido'. It is these two changes that propel the novel forward, as 45-year-old Frankie goes from being a quiet pleasant bank worker to a tyrannical sexual predator. Her new-found voice results in a reign of terror at her bank as, through sheer force of will, she bullies her way to the top. First published in 1991, "Ride a Cockhorse" is set in 1987 and is partly a comment on the financial deregulation and rapacity of the 1980s. The novel is also a satire on tyranny and its events are so outlandish that it almost resembles a fable.

Frankie's rise to power is inextricably linked with her sexuality. The fear and fawning she inspires sexually excites her, and the seduction of a high-school drum major, graphically described in the opening chapters, is only the first in a series of increasingly shocking predations. I'm still not sure what to make of this aspect of the book which at times made me feel uncomfortable, as if Frankie was serving as a caricature of a high-powered career woman. I think Frankie is such a monster, though, and her personality change so sudden and tinged with madness, that ultimately she transcends such a reading.

The unrelenting nature of this novel made it an interesting, if not always enjoyable, read. Katherine A. Powers, in her introduction calls it 'an all-American oddity', which is certainly true. There is rarely a respite from Frankie's megalomania and paranoia, evinced in her many dictatorial boasts and tirades. One is propelled forward in disbelief at how far Frankie will go and how high she will rise. This almost hysterical intensity, however, is repaid by Kennedy's moving and thoroughly satisfying conclusion.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Of the brazen, the impertinent and the majestically presumptuous 24 July 2012
By The Ginger Man - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is quite a ride as loan officer "Frankie" Fitzgibbons is transformed from bank loan officer to chief executive and mad emperor through sheer will power and charisma. Unfortunately, she has few of the skills and none of the morality needed in her leadership role. She reigns instead as a "managerial version of Lewis Carroll's Queen of Hearts," says Katherine Powers in her Introduction. Ride a Cockhorse is a black comedy detailing the effects of irresponsible power and becomes "a grotesque expression of the spirit that seized America in the eighties." Frankie is a wonderful character, easy to hate and riveting to watch; the patron saint of "the brazen, the impertinent and the majestically presumptuous," in the words of Ms Powers.

Given her lack of traditional management skills, experience and academic training, Fitzgibbon relies on an instinctive sense of how to amass and consolidate influence. She uses the media to create her own image ("appealing to a vulgar streak in your readers") and fires employees indiscriminately to create instability and fear. Fitzgibbons is self-obssessed ("I haven't been spoiled enough in my life") and cynical ("The public wants to believe the worst about people anyhow"). She possesses a healthy disrespect for the educated, describing them as those who "went away to school to avoid being contaminated by the rest of us."

Like Mussolini, she summons people to her office and makes them cross a wide expanse of open carpet to reach her desk, a requirement she guesses will abash even the stoutest heart.

Raymond Kennedy is plainly both repulsed and fascinated by the character he has created and saves his most pointed criticism for the forces that enable the Fitzgibbon reign of terror. First is the bank president who reluctantly supports Frankie because she helps grow the business. Second is the media who created Frankie Fitzgibbon but which sees itself as a neutral bystander which records but does not make the news. Finally, Kennedy excoriates the public who is thrilled at the rise to prominence of one of its members.

In the end, the author seems to ask if others are more responsible for Frankie's excesses than she is herself. If our older generation of elites surrenders its responsibility, the media aims for sensation rather than truth and the public wants only to see itself in its leaders, who will emerge to show the way forward? Ride a Cockhorse suggests that Frankie Fitzgibbons and her ilk are one possible answer.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a unique voice 26 Oct 2012
By Charles V. Peters - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is remarkable for many things, but mostly for its voice and its vision. It's rare to come across a book today with a voice that separates it from all others. You'll not confuse this one with others. Peter DeVries was and Eric Craft is similar. Their work is unique. The story here is simple. It's almost Metamorposis in reverse. Instead of a character waking to find him/herself turned into a bug, in this book a woman who's always been something of a bug wakes to become a human - and what a human at that. She puts the world under her foot and squashes it. It was written in the early days of feminism and it's a riff on that. Not a cynical one, but a funny and almost supportive one. It's a short book. It couldn't sustain its premise much longer. But it's funny and original and even sad when you consider the writer's no longer with us. His voice was never lauded even in his lifetime, but it's here again to be savored. So do that.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Parody of American Corporate Management 23 Dec 2012
By WAL - Published on Amazon.com
This novel, published in 1991, anticipates the corporate management methods of today with uncanny accuracy. It gleefully parodies all the key aspects of the Jeff Skilling/Enron-Jack Welch/GE, rank-and-yank mode of corporate governance, including bullying subordinates, use of arbitrary downsizing (firings) to stimulate productivity through fear, surrounding themselves with sycophants, feckless and cowardly oversight by ownership, using public relations as a substitute for risk management and a thought-out business plan, and a cyclic "good cop - bad cop" approach to day-to-day management. It teaches that some form of charisma is a key aspect of the ability of these types of managers to function, which in the case of Mrs. Fitzgerald, the "Chief" of the book, is her sex appeal. Business acumen may very well have little or nothing to do with it.
As an example of the prescience of the writing, consider the following example (p. 157): "She swung back in her chair, gesturing languidly and tossing out clichés in a quietly boastful manner." Anyone who has endured corporate communications meetings by top management in the last ten to fifteen years, or has watched today's captains of industry on CNBC will be able to relate instantly to the situation brilliantly portrayed in the novel.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Equal parts fun, ridiculous, and sickening 21 Aug 2012
By Matthew Wilding - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Raymond Kennedy's "Ride a Cockhorse" was published in 1991 as a satire reflecting an era of banking gone mad and where selfishness was in vogue. It's re-release today was well-timed, as the same issues of the late 1980s have reared their ugly heads again. The similarities in eras make this book feel very modern.

The book is an enjoyable enough read. The story of the tyrannical psychopath Mrs. Fitzgibbons is, at times, laugh-out-loud funny. Sometimes though, she moves into cringe-worthy. Her sexual motivations are confusing and brutal, and the reactions to her behavior by people around her fluctuate between painfully accurate to entirely unbelievable.

Her tirades are entertaining, but a bit redundant.

This book is worth a read, but it's lightness is hard to balance with a handful of genuinely disturbing scenes sprinkled in.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mania and Leadership 2 Sep 2013
By Michael Moisio - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the writing and the story. The comedy is vicious even when it's slapstick. As to the plot, the clash of characters in the climax seems inevitable as the (anti)heroine becomes ever more martial in her mania, but it nicely turns the ostensible misogyny of office politics on its head. However, as I read, I never felt that Moment of Insight some books induce.

Thinking back, the title might be the key. Frankie's mania is a toy horse of sorts and she rides it, for better or for worse. Simultaneously, Frankie is herself a toy horse of sorts and her employer rides HER, however unwittingly, to a victory that may not be Pyrrhic at all.

If we've learned anything about humanity here, though, perhaps it pertains to the nature of Leaders and the Led. There is a quiet moment in the final paragraphs when Mrs. Fitzgibbons gently demonstrates her ability to direct Bruce, and his need to be directed. Tellingly, Kennedy leaves us with only the two characters, and with that as his final thought.
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category