Maia (Teresa) Wojciechowska Ellen Lewis Buell - Essay

Ellen Lewis Buell

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

It's well known that horse lovers are dedicated—some to the point of nuttiness—yet it is distressing to read [in "A Kingdom in a Horse"] of a 64-year-old woman as enamored of her first horse as any teen-age heroine. It is also hard to believe that Sarah, a Vermont farm woman, though newly widowed and lonely, would spend most of her waking and some of her sleeping hours with her mare.

One can believe in 13-year-old David Earl, though, whose life is briefly but momentously entwined with Sarah's and that of her mare, Gypsy…. [Maia Wojciechowska] poignantly evokes David's desperation when his father, a rodeo clown, retires after a nearly fatal goring. David, who has dreamed of being his father's partner, feels betrayed and retreats into sullen loneliness until he succumbs to Gypsy's charms and, eventually, to Sarah's generosity. David, in his hurt and natural self-centeredness, is the real thing but Sarah is an awkward invention. It follows that their story is fantasy, rather than the moving study of friendship between youth and age it might have been.

Ellen Lewis Buell, in her review of "A Kingdom in a Horse," in The New York Times Book Review, Part II (© 1965 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), November 7, 1965, p. 20.