This post marks the start of the second 50% of the list, 10 books have been read, 10 books to go, should be on track to finish before the shortlist is announced although I'm still waiting for a couple to arrive in my paws. And for something completely different. After all isn't that what the Orange prize is about?
Horse-racing, or more specifically small track horse-racing in West Virginia is the subject of this Orange long-listed novel. It follows Tommy Hansel as he tries to save his stables with a clever but underhand scheme - to purchase four horses, race them at long odds, win large amounts off them and then leave before anyone notices. Obviously someone is going to notice or it wouldn't make such an interesting novel.
It's cleverly written in the sort of way that requires you to pay a lot of attention, but if you can bear to, then enhances the atmosphere - dialect, lack of punctuation, difficulty distinguishing between the characters due to having four third person narrators.
Not one that I really enjoyed I'm afraid as it was a bit of a struggle to read about a situation that was so alien to me, but on the flipside that was also what made it worth reading for me. I have a vague understanding of horse racing from the Grand National point of view and from having read a couple of Dick Francis novels a very long time ago but I didn't know anything at all really about small track racing or even that it existed.
Mavis Gallant’s “Madeline’s Bithday” (1951)
6 hours ago