Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel
Title: Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel
Author: Jeannette Walls
A true-life novel about Lily, the author’s grandmother who at age 6 helped her father break horses, at age 15 left home to teach in a frontier town, and later as a wife and mother, run a vast ranch in Arizona where she survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, and the Great Depression—but despite a life of hardscrabble drudgery still remains a woman of indomitable spirit.
Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle was “nothing short of spectacular” (Entertainment Weekly). Now she brings us the story of her grandmother—told in a voice so authentic and compelling that the book is destined to become an instant classic.
“Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did.” So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, in Jeannette Walls’s magnificent, true-life novel based on her no-nonsense, resourceful, hard working, and spectacularly compelling grandmother. By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town—riding five hundred miles on her pony, all alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car (“I loved cars even more than I loved horses. They didn’t need to be fed if they weren’t working, and they didn’t leave big piles of manure all over the place”) and fly a plane, and, with her husband, ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one of whom is Jeannette’s memorable mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle.
Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds—against women, Native Americans, and anyone else who didn’t fit the mold. Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa or Beryl Markham’s West with the Night. It will transfix readers everywhere.