†[A]t thirty-seven,” Courtney Maum writes in her new memoir, The year of the horses“I didn’t know how to play because somehow my ability to feel comfortable had left my heart and body in joy.” Maum (the author of the novels) Costalegre and Touch, among other books) felt unseen by her husband, and her two-year-old’s needs “became enormous and existential… Nina wanted a form of love that went way beyond the planned care I had shown up to that point.” Her debilitating insomnia could not be solved by a myriad of remedies: “I tried alcohol and behaved and kissed other men,” she writes. “I’ve tried acupuncture and exercise, no exercise, essential oils, lab-made drugs. I’ve tried denial.” Through the fog was a lingering attraction to horse riding, a childhood passion bubbling with the distractions of teenagers, and so she started riding again.
As a child, Maum’s love for horses revolved around the faithful and doomed Artax in Eternal storythe titular winged horse in a children’s book called flutterby, the rented pony that was presented to her on Christmas morning at age six. At thirty-seven with love comes healing: learning to drive again with gentle hands and eyes after the pain of a lost pregnancy; the lessons learned in the barn—patience, courage, relaxation—were carried into Maum’s relationships with her husband and daughter. There are setbacks and frustrations and one devastating tragedy that left this animal lover (still unable to watch) That scene of Eternal story) weepy for a full evening, but the arc of the book is undeniably upwards. By a strange cosmic twist, I received a review copy of Maum’s book the day I was to take my own first driving lesson in thirteen years; obviously, it held certain specific resonances for me. But in the past few years, as lives and priorities have shifted in the wake and amid a dozen types of large-scale tragedies, it’s not uncommon to hear a friend or acquaintance rekindle a relationship with a childhood hobby or passion. blows in . Drawing, playing an instrument, spending time in nature, working with clay. For those who haven’t yet, but are hoping this book is the velvety nudge it takes to get started.