Note – I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. No affiliate links were used in this post.
Publisher: Switchgrass Books (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.
When I first picked up this book I wasn’t sure if I would like it. It felt like it took awhile to get into the narrative (although I don’t think it really did) and I didn’t feel connected to the characters early on. That quickly changed and I was soon swept away by the story.
Swept away might not be the best description, though. It wasn’t a moment of being swept away in a light-hearted sense. This is definitely not a light-hearted story. It’s a good depiction of a family that has secrets that have created fissures in the familial relationships. There were moments that shocked me and moments that made me sad. Lynne Hugo was able to fit a lot into this shorter novel, but nothing felt rushed or forced.
If you’re an animal-lover, you’ll love the horses and the role they have in this novel. It’s obvious that Lynne Hugo is an animal lover, because the way she wrote about the horses and the bond between humans and animals really speaks to you. It took me back to my days at the stables with a friend who had horses (I used to love taking care of Shadow!) and also made me want to snuggle with my pup even more.
Hugo’s descriptions were lovely–with the horses and throughout the novel in general. I read that she writes poetry as well as fiction, so given her way with words in this novel I think I would really enjoy reading her poetry.
I think my favorite part of Remember My Beauties was the ending. She wrapped everything up so well–not with a perfect little bow, but in a way that was believable, realistic and gave me a sense of where things would go for the characters in the future. The last line was perfect!
This isn’t necessarily the easiest of reads, but it was definitely one that I appreciated and had moments that I really enjoyed.