Maia (Teresa) Wojciechowska Houston L. Maples - Essay

Houston L. Maples

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[In A Kingdom in a Horse] a young teenager, David Earl,… feels betrayed and thwarted by his father, a daredevil rodeo clown. A rodeo catastrophe has convinced the father that his son must not follow his career. Retirement to a Vermont village brings an end to David's dreams and a period of bewilderment and pain. The horse is a tentative gift from the father. While David's love goes out to it immediately, he refuses to accept the horse and it is sold to a lonely widow: Sarah Tierney. With mounting enthusiasm the author describes the growing significance the horse comes to have for this elderly woman. It is the rebirth of loving, caring, giving—an Indian summer of fulfillment after helpless bereavement. Sarah's autumnal romance seems to reflect a greater degree of personal involvement for the author. One is carried along and persuaded, because Miss Wojciechowska … is a skillful writer: a suspicion lingers, however, that her interest in David declines as the story proceeds. Horse-story fans will relish the vivid portrait of a beautiful animal, probably without worrying about the significance of the horse. More thoughtful readers may be disappointed in the baldly convenient happy ending, which undermines the integrity of the whole. (p. 41)

Houston L. Maples, "Growing Pains," in Book Week—The Sunday Herald Tribune (© 1965, The Washington Post), October 31, 1965, pp. 20, 41.∗