Mar 8, 2008


by Judy Reene Singer

Judy van Brunt runs away from her cheating husband to live and work on a horse farm in North Carolina. Her riding skills deemed inadequate, she quickly gets relegated to the position of groom, while receiving lessons. Both the job and the lessons are exhausting work. She becomes infatuated with the first handsome, rich man she meets and incessantly talks men and horses with her fellow female grooms. The farm boards wealthy patrons' horses, as well as breeding, training, selling and showing in dressage competitions. I thought I would learn about what dressage actually is, and the lore of life around horses. But this story is more about romance, gossip and jostling for status among the rich and snobbish. I enjoyed the horsey parts and much of the witty humor, but many of the characters were flat to the point of caricature, and after a while the repetitive puns, jokes on names and humor involving food became tiresome. By the end I was barely skimming the pages to see how predictably it would turn out. I realize now this book just isn't what I was looking for; it's light reading: humorous, witty and somewhat sarcastic.

In the middle there's a puzzle, involving loading six horses into a trailer: "Merkury couldn't be stalled next to Allegreto because they were archenemies. Allegretto didn't like Ivan, and Lexus hated Merkury, but Sam, the buffer, could be put next to anyone except Nero. By 5:30 am, we were using paper and pencil to do math permutations. By six o'clock, we were up to second-degree integers from calculus. A solution was finally found..." but isn't given in the book. Can you solve it?

(Here's a good example of the exaggeration that makes up the humor in this book: with a pencil, paper and writing only the names, I solved it in two minutes. I think I would find Horseplay hilarious as a movie, but I just don't care much for reading this sort of thing.)

Rating: 2/5              Published: 2004, pp 278


  1. Yeah, for me that kind of thing works better in movies than in books too.

  2. Seems like that puzzle is missing something. What's the layout of the trailer? At first I just assumed it was 1x6 and then there would be multiple solutions!

  3. Nymeth- In fact, halfway through reading it I began thinking: this would make a really good movie.

    Lauren- I didn't even think of the trailer layout. I assumed it was 1 x 6. There are several possible solutions- though my husband said if you want it to be more difficult, he can add a few qualifiers so that there's only one solution!

  4. Well if you make it a 2x3 it's more difficult.
    I'm such a mathie lol

  5. I'm awful at math. As 2x3, is it difficult enough to cost all the effort the story suggested?


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