The Horseman – Tim Pears

The Horseman – Tim Pears

I heard about this trilogy from the Slightly Foxed podcast and then a friend asked if I wanted to read them – how serendipitous.

Here’s the blurb …

From the prize-winning author of In the Place of Fallen Leaves comes a beautiful, hypnotic pastoral novel reminiscent of Thomas Hardy, about an unexpected friendship between two children, set in Devon in 1911. In a forgotten valley, on the Devon-Somerset border, the seasons unfold, marked only by the rituals of the farming calendar. Twelve-year-old Leopold Sercombe skips school to help his father, a carter. Skinny and pale, with eyes as dark as sloes, Leo dreams of a job on the Master ‘s stud farm. As ploughs furrow the hard January fields, the Master ‘s daughter, young Miss Charlotte, shocks the estate ‘s tenants by wielding a gun at the annual shoot. Spring comes, Leo watches swallows build their nests, hedgerows thrum with life and days lengthen into summer. Leo is breaking a colt for his father when a boy dressed in a Homburg, breeches and riding boots appears. Peering under the stranger ‘s hat, he discovers Charlotte.And so a friendship begins, bound by a deep love of horses, but divided by rigid social boundaries boundaries that become increasingly difficult to navigate as they approach adolescence – Hallucinatory, beautiful and suffused with the magic of nature, this tale of an unlikely friendship and the loss of innocence builds with a hypnotic power. Evoking the realities of agricultural life with precise, poetic brushstrokes, Tim Pears has created a masterful, Hardyesque pastoral novel. The first in a dazzling new trilogy, The Horseman is his greatest achievement.

This is a beautiful novel – the writing is poetic. It spans 18 months from January 1911 to June 1912. Each chapter is a different event, activity or thing in Leo’s life. We learn a lot about farming in the early 20th century and it looks hard and very labour intensive.

Leo is a quiet and extremely observant boy and I loved all of the sections about horses and nature.

Lottie is a fiercely independent soul who shares Leo’s love of horses. There is definitely going to be class tensions or at least problems in the future.

Another review

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