Horse Heaven

Horse Heaven

by Jane Smiley
3.9 23


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Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley

Spanning two years on the circuit, from Kentucky and California to New York and Paris, Horse Heaven puts us among trainers and track brats, horse-obsessed girls, nervy jockeys, billionaire owners and restless wives. Here is the trainer of dazzling integrity and his opposite: a wicked prince of the tract, headed for still another swindle; here are the gamblers and hangers-on. And in an amazing feat of imagination, here are the magnificent Thoroughbreds themselves, from the filly orphaned at birth to the brown horse who always wins by a nose, a lovable "claimer" who passes from owner to owner on a heartwrenching journey down from the winner's circle.

All the constant excitement of racing courses through a novel that opens up a fascinating world even as it moves us with its exploration of wanting, loving, and striving; of our mysterious bond with animals; and, above all, of our profound desire to connect-emotionally, sexually, spiritually-with each other.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375406003
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/04/2000
Pages: 561
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.68(h) x 1.57(d)

About the Author

Jane Smiley is the author of nine previous works of fiction, including The Age of Grief, The Greenlanders, Ordinary Love & Good Will, A Thousand Acres (for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize), and Moo. She lives in northern California.


Northern California

Date of Birth:

September 26, 1949

Place of Birth:

Los Angeles, California


B.A. in English, Vassar College, 1971; M.A., Iowa University, 1975; M.F.A, 1976; Ph.D., 1978

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Horse Heaven 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Bogie02 More than 1 year ago
This would be a great summer read! The author's writing style is very easy to read and by the end of the book, you feel as if the characters and the horses are real people. I've read this book once while my mother-in-law has read it twice and enjoyed it just as much the second time as the first time. This title was given to me as a gift and I would recommended it as a gift for anyone that loves horses or just a good story to get lost in during precious moments of peace and quiet.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. Smiley does a remarkable job of bringing to life all of the characters, the horses, the people, and a dog, while maintaining a dry wit. This is a must-read. I highly recommend it!
Addage More than 1 year ago
Requires some patience. Lots of characters including her animals. Austenesque in that manners are an insight to the soul. In theory this novel is about horse racing. Certainly it gives a picture of both the greatness and the cruelty of the sport. Like all comic novels, she pulls her punches at the end. What stands out is her characters--human and animal. Keeping everything straight is a little tricky, but as we work through the vignettes that make up the novel, there are many moments that brings smiles and laughs. She has a very deft touch. Jane Smiley can be pretty unrelenting in her novels. This one, though, has a pretty soft feel that makes you appreciate her insights all the more. Worthy of a second reading.
GypsyAB More than 1 year ago
took me awhile to get into but once youvision the characters the stories come together. couldnt put it down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In a lighthearted departure from her remarkable 'A Thousand Acres,' Smiley gives us a joyful story of horses and horsepeople. Her book will be a sure hit with anyone who knows horses well enough to appreciate their unique individual personalities. Her humans are like our own friends and neighbors -- flawed, complex, but generally good -- and, like the horses they own, they are the products of their environment and their handling. This is an appealing, readable, and simply fun book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have relatively little knowledge of racing but do love horses. This book is delicious. Not a fast read, but what a fascinating one. Not quite at the halfway point, I know it will maintain this high degree of interest and the unexpected. My friend who also loves horses and IS knowledgeable about racing is going to love this book. Can't believe this enthralling novel is in the 'bargain' book category!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I only picked this book up because Jane Smiley wrote it. I have no interest in-- and admit to some antipathy for-- the 'horsey set.' However, I found HORSE HEAVEN totally compelling. I learned more than I ever thought I'd want to know about horses, racing, and all the people involved. Smiley is a master at conveying the smallest nuance and getting inside the heads of her characters-- including the horses. I just couldn't put this book down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jane Smiley does an excellent job of getting into the thought processes of a select group of horses and the people who surround them. She visits the lives of an aristocratic couple whose marriage is almost on the rocks, a single black woman who worked at Wal-Mart until a famous rapper walks into her life, a middle-aged horse farm owner with a sharp wit and an even sharper tongue, and a host of other people. Try it! You'll like it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Richly woven story, great characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rarely do i read a book twice, but for this i am making an exception. Smart, hilarious, engrossing.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Having grown up around Santa Anita racetrack and spent some time on several lush thoroughbred breeding farms in California, I was somewhat disappointed with this book. I think this book could have been better. I think the ideas were on the right track, however there were too many loose ends and not enough detail to create a masterpiece. With so much going on and so many characters, Smiley may have took on to big of a challenge to effectively capture the true essence of her characters. I admit I had a hard time putting this book down, but mainly because I kept hoping for more and never got it. Much of what I read I already knew and I wanted Smiley to delve deeper. I was also disappointed that Smiley had to include several racy sex scenes. -must a good author resort to this to assure successful book sales or catch the eye of a Hollywood movie maker?? I think her approach to these scenes could have been more tasteful. I imagine for a horse enthuasist this is a great beginners guide. Overall, it was a good book, but not exceptional. I did enjoy the horses and how she protrayed their individual personalities and drive. -a must for any horse racing story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was very impressed with this novel, the first I have read by Ms. Smiley. She weaves together multiple characters, both human and equine, and follows their up's and down's through about 600 pages. The storytelling is full and complete and the conclusions are very satisfying. Readers who have an interest in horse racing, and/or are willing to immerse themselves in that world, will especially enjoy this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story is filled with details and characters that are without any real connection or importance. I have read books with as many characters (check out The Milagro BeanField Wars by John Nichols)and enjoyed them. What is missing here is any development of many of them which makes it an annoyance rather than a pleasure to run into them again. I loved A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley. I disliked Moo for the same reason I disliked this book. This is it for me with this author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
should you consider this book. There are too many characters, too few in-depth characterizations. You need a score-card to keep track of who is who. While Smiley is trying to impress her readers with her vast knowledges of horses...and there are many interesting facts...there is no real compelling plot. The book is more like a series of short stories strung together. By the end of the book, which ties up each and every storyline with a pretty bow, you're left feeling, 'so what' .
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had never been a great fan of horse stories, but this one really got me. The author writes in loving detail about the world of horse racing, and draws the reader into the lives of all her characters, both human and equine. I actually cared more about the horses than the humans in the story, who were not as 'approachable' as the animals they loved, exploited, and in many cases treated as nothing more than commodities. Hands down, the mighty and lovable thoroughbred Justa Bob was my favorite - you will keep turning the pages of this rather wordy book just to learn what his final fate is.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read dozens of horse books...from Black Beauty, to The Black Stallion, to Dick Francis and Willie Shoemaker mysteries, to the Thoroughbred books, and I can safely say that this is by far the best horse book I've ever read. By the end of the book, you really love the horses and care about what happens to them...Justa Bob...Limitless...Residual...Epic Steam...Mr. T...Froney's Sis...all of them