Many times, while grooming my mare in the quiet barn, I've thought about the hundreds of years equestrian tradition that form so many horse-related tasks. We still mount from the left (keeping our right hand free for a sword & conflict), measure equine height in "hands", and use a strange assortment of implements (currycombs, and picks) to keep the coats and feet clean.
Tim Pears novel, set deep in rural England circa 1911, overflows with simple beauty found in these old traditional ways and the land and animals being tended. The story revolves around young Leo Sercombe, an aspiring horseman, son of Albert, a farmer and carter in service to the estate's master, Lord Prideaux.
The tale, like those working the soil, follows the sun, and each new season brings it's special tasks and pleasures. These rituals are fully described, taking the reader directly there. September, for example, brings the harvest and celebration, each villagers having specific role in the bounty's collection.
This is a book to savour, therefore, and not to hurry with : there is no fast-paced plot or Gordian mystery to untangle beyond the simplicity, rusticity, and sometimes cruelty of that long gone time where wheat sheaves were hand bundled, and going to the fair meant selecting a new pony for your cart. I simply couldn't get enough. Luckily, this is first in a trilogy, and I look forward to reading the set.