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3.4 out of 5 stars14
3.4 out of 5 stars
Format: Mass Market Paperback|Change
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on 12 May 2004
From the terrific opening chapter where Olympic hopeful Annemarie Zimmerman has the accident which will shape her life, this book keeps you hooked. Annemarie, the narrator, is not always likeable but the reader cannot help being swept along with her as she struggles to make a new start in life, understand her family and come to terms with what happened 18 years ago. Gruen has got a suberb writing style, literate but non-flashy, fluent and with an excellent sense of pacing so the action never flags. She is also superb at conveying the magic of horses without this book being in any sense 'horsey'. Though much of the action of the book is concerned with Annemarie's search to find out who her rescue horse really is this is a story about people and their relationships to each other and it is very well done indeed. Some of the charecterisation could have been deeper - Eva the 15 year old daughter is tiresomely one note in her never-ending stroppiness - and Gruen veers into straight cliches at times - such as the French riding instructor who can whip up a superb meal just like that. Even so, this is a thoroughly enjoyable read. Reccomended.
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on 26 July 2010
I really enjoyed this book. I hadn't read one of hers before and am looking forward to Flying Changes. It has good humour and the plot is pretty good, though a little far-fetched. I would definitely recommend it, particularly to anyone who loves horses (as I do). I don't usually enjoy American novels, but this is lovely and good fun. I felt like I really knew all the characters and could empathise with them.
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on 30 April 2015
I have not encountered a book that made me dislike it this much for a long time. Neither do I remember which the last one was but this is definitely one of the worst books I've read so far.

Personally love the author's other works, but this one sometimes make me tremble in frustration in certain segments.

The main character's going through a lot in life, up-coming divorce, father being diagnosed with life-threatening arthritis, dealing with a rebellious teenage daughter. Yet she acts arrogant, self-centered and short tempered due to life throwing so many chances for her to mature and learn from experience.

If the author's intention is to reflect life in reality, how certain people act the way they do during crucial times then this book's a success. But I'd rather spend my time reading about a person who makes the most of what she has. Not being a selfish, immature version of her teenage self.
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on 26 July 2012
I found this book on a website with recommendations for horsey books, and read the sample. The first chapter or so is brilliant - enough to get me to buy the book - but sadly it does not last. It's a nice idea, but for me there was far too much focus on the relationships of the protagonist (Annemarie Zimmer), who had just gone through a divorce and was coping with a difficult daughter. I would have like a lot more attention to the horses, which is what I wanted to read about.

I'm afraid I am unlikely to read the next book. It's a good idea but it just didn't work for me.
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on 7 June 2011
As I was reading this book I just couldn't get The Horse Whisperer meets Mills and Boon out of my head. I thought the story at the start was similar in that an accident occurred with the rider and horse being hurt, etc.

I just couldn't get that thought out of my head. I felt the writing was very similar in style and content to a Mills and Boon style book. I'm not knocking Mills and Boon books as they can be a good ice breaker when you're struggling with readers block. At least when you're reading a Mills and Boon book you know what you're going to get. A non taxing, very predictable read with not much depth to the characters or the story.

To be honest I expected a lot more from the story with the Author being Sara Gruen as I'd heard good things about her books. It was an easy read but was very predictable.

I didn't really empathise with any of the characters and didn't feel that any of them were that well developed. I definitely won't be in a rush to read the sequel.
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on 1 December 2010
I bought this bok because I love horse stories even though I am middle aged and cant have one (damn!). Right from the start I was gripped by the story and couldnt put it down until I knew what had happened. The characters were strong and pulled me straight in. I just felt like I was a part of it all. It must be good coz i bought the follow on, Flying Changes straight away on finishing this one.
This is a book that I will read and read again.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 November 2015
Gruen's first book (Water for Elephants) is a masterpiece - I've read it several times and recommended it to anyone who'd listen.

This one is awful - and yes - this is my opinion. I admit that I bought it on the strength of the Elephant one but more fool me.

If you're like me and find an author who "works" for you & end up buying all they've done in order to carry on enjoying the style, just be aware that I paid the price here for my naivety. I should have researched this particular book more thoroughly...
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on 12 August 2013
Really enjoyable book for those with or without a knowledge of horses. Touches on so many different difficult aspects of relationships. You can really feel Anne Marie's pain and passion. Have just ordered the sequel 'Flying Changes'.

Dawn
Lindsell, Essex
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on 13 January 2012
After reading Water for Elephants, which I absolutely loved, I was really looking forward to reading my second novel by the same author. It was absolute rubbish, a boring story line and totally unrealistic. I kept reading thinking the story might improve - it didnt!!
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on 8 July 2012
Fab book. After reading all the Jilly Cooper horsey books, looked online to find some others. Founds loads for 'teenagers', then came across Sara Gruen. Now starting her sequel, Flying Changes... Hopefully it'll be as entertaining as Riding Lessons!
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