9780375862281

The Georges and the Jewels

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780375862281

  • ISBN10:

    0375862285

  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2010-09-14
  • Publisher: Yearling
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Summary

The author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "A Thousand Acres" makes her debut for young readers with this novel set on a California horse ranch in the 1960s, where a girl finds refuge from her problems with the horses.

Author Biography

Jane Smiley is the acclaimed author of many books for adults, including Private Life, Horse Heaven, and the Pulitzer Prize–winning A Thousand Acres. She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001. 

Jane Smiley lives in Northern California, where she rides horses every chance she gets. Her second novel for young readers, A Good Horse, also features Abby Lovitt and her family’s ranch.

Excerpts

Chapter 1

Sometimes when you fall off your horse, you just don't want to get right back on. Let's say he started bucking and you did all the things you knew to do, like pull his head up from between his knees and make him go forward, then use a pulley rein on the left to stop him. Most horses would settle at that point and come down to a walk. Then you could turn him again and trot off--it's always harder for the horse to buck at the trot than at the lope. But if, right when you let up on the reins, your horse put his head between his knees again and took off bucking, kicking higher and higher until he finally dropped you and went tearing off to the other end of the ring, well, you might lie there, as I did, with the wind knocked out of you and think about how nice it would be not to get back on, because that horse is just dedicated to bucking you off.

So I did lie there, looking up at the branches of the oak tree that grew beside the ring, and I did wait for Daddy to come trotting over with that horse by the bridle, and I did stare up at both their faces, the face of that horse flicking his ears back and forth and snorting a little bit, and the face of my father, red-cheeked and blue-eyed, and I did listen to him say, "Abby? You okay, honey? Sure you are. I saw you bounce! Get up, now."

I sighed.

"How am I going to tell those folks who are looking to buy these horses that a little girl can ride them, if you don't get up and ride them?"

I sat up. I said, "I don't know, Daddy." My elbow hurt, but not too badly. Otherwise I was okay.

"Well, then."

I stood up, and he brushed off the back of my jeans. Then he tossed me on the horse again.

Some horses buck you off. Some horses spook you off--they see something scary and drop a shoulder and spin and run away. Some horses stop all of a sudden, and there you are, head over heels and sitting on the ground. I had a horse rear so high once that I just slid down over her tail and landed in the grass easy as you please, watching her run back to the barn. I started riding when I was three. I started training horses for my dad when I was eight. I wasn't the only one--my brother, Danny, was thirteen at the time, and he did most of the riding (Kid's Horse for Sale), but I'm the only one now.

Which is not to say that there aren't good horses and fun horses. I ride plenty of those, too. But they don't last, because Daddy turns those over fast. I had one a year ago, a sweet bay mare. We got her because her owner had died and Daddy picked her up for a song from the bank. I rode her every day, and she never put a foot wrong. Her lope was as easy as flying. One of the days she was with us, I had a twenty-four-hour virus, so when I went out to ride, I tacked her up and took her down to the crick at the bottom of the pasture, out of sight of the house.

I knew Daddy had to go into town and would be gone for the afternoon, so when I got down there, I just took off the saddle and hung it over a tree limb, and the bridle, too, and I lay down in the grass and fell asleep. I knew she would graze, and she did for a while, I suppose. But when I woke up (and feeling much better, thank you), there she was, curled up next to me like a dog, kind of pressed against me but sweet and large and soft. I lay there feeling how warm she was and smelling her fragrance, and I thought, I never heard of this before. I don't know why she did that, but now when Daddy tells me that horses only know two things, the carrot and the stick, and not to fill my head with silly ideas about them, I just remember that mare (she had a star shaped like a triangle and a little snip down by her left nostril). We sold her for a nice piece of change within a month, and I wish I knew where she was.

But Daddy names all the mares Jewel and all the geldings George, and I can hardly remember which was which after a while.

The

Excerpted from The Georges and the Jewels by Jane Smiley
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