Project Description

In the winter of 1917 many of the young ranch hands in this remote Eastern Oregon county have been called away to war. When 19-year-old Martha Lessen shows up at George Bliss’s doorstep looking for work breaking horses, George glimpses beneath her showy rodeo costume a shy young woman with a serious knowledge of horses, and he hires her on. Martha’s unusual, quiet way of breaking horses soon wins her additional work among several of George Bliss’s neighbors, and over the course of the winter she helps out a German family whose wagon and horses have tipped off a narrow road into a ravine; she gentles a horse for a man who knows he is dying—a last gift to his young son; and she clashes with a hired hand who has been abusing horses with casual cruelty. Against the backdrop of a horrifying modern war, Martha gradually comes to feel enveloped by a sense of community and family she’s never had before. And eventually, against her best intentions to lead a solitary cowboy life, she falls in love.

“Truly one of the best books you’ll ever read.” —Jane Kirkpatrick

“….[T]here isn’t a false move in this poignant novel, which demonstrates as much insight into the hearts of men and women as into the hearts of horses.” –Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“In all of Molly Gloss’ work, lyric descriptions and unforgettable characters are supported by an open, wide-ranging intelligence and not at all undone by dry wit and an open heart. The Hearts of Horses is a shining example of Molly Gloss’ gifts.” —Amy Bloom

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Houghton Mifflin
ISBN 9780618799909, $24.00

Trade paperback
Mariner Books
ISBN 9780547085753, $13.95

Download a poster to advertise a reading or event (1.6 MB pdf)

Read/listen to Molly’s interview on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

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