Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

My cousin Karen over in San Diego, California, read this book a few weeks ago and Facebooked me about how much she enjoyed it as her grandmother, my aunt, would have lived in a similar area around the same time. It helped her visualise some of the difficulties Aunt Sarah would have had back then, just in daily life alone.

I trust Karen’s book judgement implicitly – she gets what I like (and I have to confess that it sadly doesn’t work in the opposite way!) – so I hopped onto Amazon to grab a copy for my Kindle. Bow-bow! The Kindle rights for this ebook do not allow me as a buyer in Australia to purchase it!

I had a quick Facebook whinge to Karen who immediately wrapped up her copy and popped it in the post to me. Such a darling. And I have to say, as a publisher, I have no idea why Ms Walls or her publisher, have restricted the territorial rights. They just lost a certified sale and the only winners were the US and Australian postal services.

This book is faction at its best. Ms Walls has researched her grandmother and the time she lived in and brought them to us in a lovely, slightly-larger-than-life package. No real melodrama, just a tale about real individuals in a time that most of us are now too young to remember.

As my own grandparents (Karen’s great grandparents) would have crossed the USA from Ellis Island to Bisbee over 100 years ago, I found MS Walls’ descriptions of the Arizona countryside and the way people navigated it and lived in it enlightening, informative and entertaining.

The chief protagonist of the story, Ms Walls’ own grandmother, is a truly three-dimensional character. As she ages, you can feel yourself thinking, ‘Hold on there girl, there are two sides to that story’. She’s a fully fleshed out character with good points and bad, and this is a truly entertaining story.

Get it – if you can.

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