Monday, February 09, 2015

Three-Legged Horse

Three-Legged Horse / Ann Hood
New York: Bantam,c1989.
293 p.

I've owned this novel for years. Really, for YEARS. So I finally picked it up and read it last weekend. It was a book I wanted to love.

I'd discovered Hood with her book Places to Stay the Night, which I'd found randomly on a library shelf years ago. I liked it so ended up reading a few of her books after that, and find her enjoyable and light for the most part.

Three-Legged Horse was an early novel, though, and it does show. It's interesting enough, but ultimately forgettable. Not one of her best.

The plot is a bit creaky: free-spirited mother who is in a folk band (named Three-Legged Horse) but who is involved in a troubled relationship with a distant, artist husband who comes and goes, sometimes for years on end. But she just can't give him up. Daughter Hannah deals with the fall-out of these emotional struggles, and with a father she barely knows. Hannah is trying to find her own way as well, now that she's a teenager, and that is causing some issues of her own. Oh yes, don't forget the glamorous New York soap opera actor Grandmother and her own dysfunctional marriage.

Too many threads trying to be woven in here. It's almost after-school special, but not quite. Hood is a good writer, and although much of the story is predictable in the sense of psychological tropes and easy answers, it still has a spark that makes it readable. It really shows the potential that Hood used to better effect in her following works.

This was a good pick to mix in between some heavier classic reads though. It's modern and it really does show some of the social norms and stock characters of the 80's. I could almost see the pastels and big hair in some of the story elements. Fun reading, but if you want to discover Hood, I'd recommend trying some of her later books first so that you can see her working at a more polished level. Her more recent books are really quite wonderful.

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Further Reading:

Laura Moriarty's The Centre of Everything focuses on another 12 yr old girl, who faces a life with a mother always on the edge of employment who is having an unsatisfactory affair with a married man. Evelyn's perspective on life and love is formed in this unsettled atmosphere, and like Hannah in Three-Legged Horse, she seems more mature than the adults in the story. However, like any teenager, her tale is told from her viewpoint as the "centre of everything".

Alice Hoffman's Here On Earth tells the story of March Murray, who with her teenage daughter returns to her childhood home. There she comes across her high-school love Hollis...and learns why obsessive love is not always a good thing. (this is inspired by Wuthering Heights, the classic obsession novel)

12 comments:

  1. It's good to have a collection of in-between books for when you're not quite up to the challenge of something 'heavier'. I'm just finishing up a Thomas Mann classic and as much as I'm loving it I'm also looking forward to something less philosophical and angsty.

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    1. Going back and forth is good for the brain ;)

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  2. Have just put several on hold. Thank you for yet another introduction! Your choices never disappoint... (:

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    1. I hope you will enjoy -- and find something to appreciate in each one!

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  3. Thank you for your honest review, Melwyk. I would never have guessed what the title referred to. I hadn't heard of this book before.

    Congratulations, you've won a book, as announced on my blog today!

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  4. Even if it wasn't as good as some of her other books, at least you knocked off another book from your TBR shelf. :-) That's always a good thing.

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    1. Haha, yes, knocking off that TBR bookshelf is a good thing :)

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  5. I think I've read this one, but I'm not sure (and your experience suggests that it might well have been lost in a pre-book-log-blur). Certainly I can relate to the act of pulling longtime shelfsitters into the reading stack; I've been doing a lot of that lately myself!

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    1. I have so many of those poor neglected shelf-sitters. I'm trying to at least read the beginnings of some of them and decide whether I'm going to read or give away.

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  6. I read Here On Earth 10 years ago and remember liking it but I haven't read anything by Hoffman since then.

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    1. I haven't read many of her newer books either -- just haven't got to them among the hundreds on the list, I guess!

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Thanks for stopping by ~ I hope you will leave your comments and reflections to let me know what you think!