I loved listening to this book and would definitely recommend it. It is a lively, entertaining, informative novel, read with great sensitivity by Shelly Thompson.
I especially loved the animal characters in the story: Eileen, the Jack Russell terrier, the thoroughbreds Justa Bob and Mr. T. and the other fillys. colts, geldings and stallions that populate this story. It was lovely to be immersed in the world of horses and in the characters of the owners, vets, trainers, jockeys, grooms and others that care for them.
Contrary to other reviewers I found Shelly Thompson's interpretation of the characters sensitive and entertaining. She was able to sing an Irish lilt and bark like a terrier, assume the characters of men, of women, and horses. She had great range. Sure she mispronounced a few place names. But I find this no great sin, nor that unusual.
I laughed out loud at this book, and found myself repeating portions of it to my friends over coffee. Jane Smiley is a great writer and she found a great reader for her novel.
A huge cast of characters including horses, a Jack Russell terrier named Eileen, and even a pig. Their must be at at least a twenty men, women and 2 precocious children, whose lives we follow and who are caught up in Jane Smiley's world of thoroughbred horse racing.
The woman is a wonder. She writes of this world with a kind of love, even as she casts her eye and ours on the highly unnatural and often cruel fate that has been been bred into and eventually creating these glorious animals.
I enjoyed it immensely and didn't want it to end. As the book neared its end I would relisten at random - didn't matter where - just to put off being goodbye to it. It's all good.
Shelley Thompson does a fine job in wending her way through the myriad characters. Each character has his or her own voice .. including the animals. She reads with both passion and compassion. She is a fine reader.
The worst part of this audiobook is the preview - does not do this fantastic book justice! I was a big fan of the paperback version, read it religiously, and was so excited to see that it was an audiobook. When I listened to the preview, I was extremely disappointed - sounded flat and dull and monotonous. These qualities are in no way reflected by the actual narration or structure of the audiobook.
Fast-paced and quirky, Horse Heaven draws together a collection of oddball characters and intertwines their stories with that of their beloved (or not) thoroughbreds. The narrator does a great job of dramatizing the dialogue, and keeping the listener entertained. Five stars - a must for horse lovers.
if you listen you will realize justabook is high praise. I wish I could give it six stars. This is the most enjoyable listen of any of the books I have listened to (at least 20). I actually began to look forward to my commute so that I could hear more of the story (seriously). This is the only audiobook where I feel compelled to buy the hard cover. I want to keep it and savor it again. Don't be intimidated by the length, there are very few minutes that are not a delight. There are some things you want to last.
If you are a fan of thoroughbred horse racing (especially for you if it's all about the horse), then you will love this book. The author knows the sport and she obviously loves the horses (just ask "Just a Bob"). It was a fun, heartfelt read and I highly recommend it.
Paul Couch, M.D.
Winter Springs, Florida
Reader had some odd (Canadian?) pronunciation quirks that took me out of the story. She did Ok on most of the real-life racing names, but not all, and it was jarring every time.
It's one of my all-time favorite books, though, so she's forgiven.
Great story, really well read.
Just a Bob
Love this story and keep re-listening to it!
Here and now
I really love this book. I've listened to it several times. The narration doesn't bother me once I got into the book, but you really have to give the book a chance (at least a couple hours). The author really knows horses and people too. I found when I listened again a year later I enjoyed the book just as much as the first time, and quite possibly more.
I believe about 30% of the book could have been cut and kept the story moving in a much better and more realistic way. The haphazard insertion of the dog's point of view as well as the side step of an Irish shopping trip did nothing to maintain or evolve the story. It was as if the author merely had some extra material, and chose to stuff it in to fill pages.
Stick to 3-4 main characters and actually write about them rather than use them as a fulcrum to launch into shallow 'thoughts' about a few people with whom then come in contact.
When she wrote about the trainers, she did a good job. When she wrote about the fringe, she seemed to do it for her own amusement, rather than for the story.
The repeated mispronunciation of common words is completely unacceptable in a professional reading.
La Jolla... come on... she isn't in kindergarten.
The recording editor should be fired.
omg what a pile of manure. i see a book with a jock belly down and racing riding and the book i receive is a woman romanticizing about a foal and polite little stories. to be honest my only recollection of this book was I GOT RIPPED OFF. this is my first written review in 13 years on Audible. biggest stinker in my 300+ collection of audio books.
I will be more careful next time and not trust a cool cover.
Sappy little stories nothing to do with horse racing.
Anger cause i got ripped off for a book credit. False advertising.
The front cover of the book should be of a nice old woman with a foal and maybe a mare in a distant field. This book had nothing to do with horse racing.