Review 1692: The Horseman

I was in the midst of putting a hold on Tim Pears’ The Redeemed to read for my Walter Scott prize project when I noticed that it was the third in his West Country Trilogy. The prize judges have an annoying habit of picking books for their shortlist that are well into a series, and I have paid the price before of trying to read just the nominated book, which you would assume would stand on its own. But sometimes not, so I went ahead and got the first two books of the trilogy as well. The Horseman is the first.

It is 1911. Leo Sercombe is the son of a carter on Lord Prideaux’s country estate in Western England. Leo is twelve and speaks seldom, but he has a strong love for and interest in horses. He frequently slacks off from school to help work on the various farms that make up the estate, and he is beginning to attract the attention of the estate’s head groom for his talent with horses.

Sharing his love of horses is the lord’s twelve-year-old daughter, Lottie, whom Leo occasionally encounters.

The novel minutely observes everyday life in an early 20th century rural setting, particularly the work. Although it is occasionally lyrical, the writing is mostly spare. I wasn’t sure how much I was enjoying it but somehow kept reading, even though terminology and process sometimes escaped me. I was actually intending to read a completely different book next, as I often do with series, but the ending, which is sudden and unexpected, made me want to read the next book immediately. If it’s a fast-paced novel you are looking for, this one is not for you, as it is more concerned with detail.

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6 thoughts on “Review 1692: The Horseman

  1. Helen July 16, 2021 / 2:46 pm

    I read this for the same reason as you – because I wanted to read The Redeemed and thought it might not stand alone. I didn’t like it much as I found it too slow and detailed, but I will probably still try the second one.

    • whatmeread July 16, 2021 / 3:01 pm

      I thought the second one was slower.

  2. robinandian2013 July 16, 2021 / 3:34 pm

    Please go on and read the next two novels in the series. I think this trilogy is outstanding – gives a picture of a time, place and way of life that is long gone.

  3. Sandra July 16, 2021 / 4:15 pm

    I’ve read all 3 and loved them all. The final book was my least favourite. But I accept they are not for everyone.

    • whatmeread July 16, 2021 / 6:30 pm

      I’ve actually read all three by now, just haven’t posted my reviews yet. I agree that the last one is weakest.

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