Thursday, 21 March 2013
So I was eager to read her new autobiography, My Animals and Other Family, to find out what her made so unflappable.
The book is organised with chapters about each dog or horse that meant a lot to her as she grew up. She had a golden childhood with boxers and lurchers to play with and ponies and horses to ride because her father was Ian Balding, famous trainer of Mill Reef which won the 1971 Derby. She tells the tales of the antics that she and her brother, Andrew, got up to. For example painting the inside of the Puppy Shed including the puppies and themselves bright turquoise, or styling the mane and tail of her pony, Volcano, so he looked like Ziggy Stardust. Needless to say, her mother was not pleased.
I hadn't realised that Clare had had a career as an amateur jockey. The best bit is the race where she nearly unseats the Princess Royal, and the inevitable confrontation in the changing room afterwards! At the age of twenty, she won the Ladies' Championship on a horse called Respectable Jones. In fact I was a little sad that her story stopped at this point, because I would have loved to keep on reading but, with university and a job at the BBC, she couldn't have had the time or opportunity to ride so much.
I think her calm nature comes from learning to bring the best out of her horses and dogs which loved her and as for her hair, I have no idea, only that she kept having it cut shorter to help her save ounces so she'd be light enough to race!
It's a fabulous book, and I hope that you will enjoy it too.
Thursday, 14 March 2013
Sheltering Rain, her first novel, was on my list of books to read but as I've been away recently and it wasn't available on Kindle, I downloaded The Horse Dancer instead.
It is a simply beautiful bitter-sweet story about love: unconditional love for your horse; love for your family; love between two people, and the motivation to achieve your heart's desire.
I was totally immersed in the story of Sarah, brought up by her French grandpapa, and Boo, the horse they train together to perform the thousand-year-old manoeuvres of Le Cadre Noir, the elite French school of horsemanship, at the Sparepenny Lane Stables run by Cowboy John.
This sounds like a pony story for girls, but it is equally a story about the floundering marriage of lawyer, Natasha, and her photographer husband, Mac, who through a series of disasters, take Sarah in as a temporary foster child.
I had to keep reading to find out what happened to these characters, and I think you will too!
(You might wonder where I got the picture of the book from. Well, dear reader, I loved it so much, I bought one!)
Have you ever bought a book because you liked it so much on Kindle?