Paperback: 194 pages
Publisher: Switchgrass Books; 1 edition (April 18, 2016)
Imagine a hawk’s view of the magnificent bluegrass pastures of Kentucky horse country. Circle around the remnants of a breeding farm, four beautiful horses grazing just beyond the paddock. Inside the ramshackle house, a family is falling apart.
Hack, the patriarch breeder and trainer, is aged and blind, and his wife, Louetta, is confined by rheumatoid arthritis. Their daughter, Jewel, struggles to care for them and the horses while dealing with her own home and job—not to mention her lackluster second husband, Eddie, and Carley, her drug-addicted daughter. Many days, Jewel is only sure she loves the horses. But she holds it all together. Until her brother, Cal, shows up again. Jewel already has reason to hate Cal, and when he meets up with Carley, he throws the family into crisis—and gives Jewel reason to pick up a gun.
Every family has heartbreaks, failures, a black sheep or two. And some families end in tatters. But some stumble on the secret of survival: if the leader breaks down, others step up and step in. In this lyrical novel, when the inept, the addict, and the ex-con join to weave the family story back together, either the barn will burn to the ground or something bigger than any of them will emerge, shining with hope. Remember My Beauties grows large and wide as it reveals what may save us.
For more information on this and other Switchgrass titles, be sure to visit their website HERE.
“In vibrant prose, Lynne Hugo tells a gritty, psychologically astute story of three generations in turmoil and the power of nature to heal even the most troubled hearts. Her characters are brave, flawed, real—at times disturbingly so—but she never gives up on any of them, and by the end of this inspiring novel, I shared her empathetic vision. A spare, commanding novel by a master storyteller.”—Patry Francis, author of The Orphans of Race Point
“A character in Remember My Beauties is fond of saying, ‘Lotsa ways to be blind,’ but this wonderful novel also shows us there are many ways to see—many ways to see love, for instance, or family or forgiveness. I’ll be remembering the beauty of this novel for a long time to come.”—Katrina Kittle, author of The Blessings of the Animals
“Lynne Hugo’s writing is beautiful and evocative, earthy and strong. The characters, the setting, and the way she handles tough issues with honesty, grit, and understanding all make for a wonderful read.”—Laura Harrington, author of Alice Bliss
Normally I summarize the book and then detail my feelings about it. but since the summary above is as beautifully written as the story, I figured I'd jump right into my review.
I expected great things from this novel since I really enjoyed Lynne Hugo's A Matter of Mercy (see review here) and appreciated her ability to portray very emotional material. And I was not disappointed.
Remember My Beauties is heartbreaking but life affirming. The reader is transported into the trenches of this family's life--drug through their disappointments, failures, and struggles--and then brought full circle back to the beauty of life and hope.
At times, I'd cringe while reading, broken by my emotional reaction to these characters' lives. When Jewel, the one family member who is managing to hold the rest of the family together, breaks, it paves the path for the others to pick up the pieces and see what they can put back together. A glimmer of hope begins and, along with it, a belief that life has taken a turn.
Gritty, emotional, and beautifully written, Remember My Beauties is a story that will stay with you. I highly recommend it.
Oh, and if you love horses, you'll connect with this story even more!
Rating: 4.5 stars
About Lynne Hugo
Lynne Hugo has published ten previous books, including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her memoir, Where the Trail Grows Faint, won the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize in 2004, and her sixth novel, A Matter of Mercy, was awarded an Independent Publisher silver medal for best regional fiction in 2014. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, she lives in Ohio with her husband and their yellow Labrador retriever.
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Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own.
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