"Set against the sights, sounds, and excitement of the brand new sport of thoroughbred racing, "The Highest Stakes" is a story of drama, love, and retribution in a world where pedigree is everything and fortunes can be won and lost in the blink of an eye.""From the first day she learned to ride, Charlotte Wallace lived for the freedom that comes from tearing across the heath on one of her uncle's prized stallions. But that freedom is shattered when her uncle makes her the pawn in his bet on a high stakes horse race."
These are the cover descriptions of Emery Lee's extraordinary book, "The Highest Stakes." I'm never one to explain the story of a book, since that's something easily found on the covers or with a nod to the summaries already written. My goal as a reviewer is to tell more about the author's abilities to convey that story, and to give a personal sense of how it translates to the reader.
"The Highest Stakes," is a book that I took a risk on reading. I'm not one who knows horses. Having been completely in the dark about them, I've never grown to appreciate their history or people's attachments to them. But, when I saw Emery Lee's book, it seemed like a good time to jump in and try to see this side of things. I started reading with a jaded mind, I didn't expect to finish the book.
Surprisingly enough, I was mesmorized! Ms. Lee writes about horses, races, breeding horses, and riders as if these things were at the heart of all life. It is captivating! I learned so much about the history of horse racing. The breeding of horses and how they develop a racing horse was so interesting written from Emery's hand, and the training of a race horse became alive and almost sensual. My heart raced when the races were described!
Emery Lee is a highly articulate,intelligent writer. She has an infinite grasp of the English language of the times in which her book takes place and of the entire setting of her story. Her characters are subtle and strong. They are absorbing in their trueness and honesty, and their love of horses. There is a love story at the heart of this novel; however, it is beautifully balanced with the story of the horses as they are intwined.
This is an intelligent book. It is a book to be taken seriously. A book that will teach and thrill, I recommend it especially to those who know and love horses and English stories of the 1700's.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!