memoir / review

The Year of the Horses: A Memoir by Courtney Maum

I was never a horse girl but I love reading books about people and niche interests. I felt like this was a little flat. Despite her talks about therapy, I felt like there was very little introspection. How did she grow up to be a fatphobic woman with an eating disorder, depression, stagnant marriage who takes her daughter’s fashion choices and autonomy to be some some affront to her?

Why didn’t she tell her husband she had owned a horse as a child for many years? What kind of relationship did they have?

It was honestly chilling to read that it was a breakthrough in therapy to realize that her child was expressing herself through her clothing choices and was an actual person with feelings and nostalgia and to stop thinking about her wanting to wear long socks as something to battle over in the mornings? How is it a surprise that her child might be expressing herself? She talks fondly about her wooden rocking horse she got around that age. She had opinions and feelings; why wouldn’t her child? She talks about how happy she was after the birth of her child (the happiest of her life) and then once her daughter was up and moving and needed more than just sleep and food she was horribly depressed and overwhelmed. She wanted a second child to chase that high again her husband was reluctant, she got pregnant and then unfortunately had a miscarriage. They wisely decided to not try for another child.

I’m glad she starts trying to think more about her marriage but I do think her husband is a bit of a bad gift giver. Giving her a camera because (as she decides after therapy) he is very visual and maybe wants to share that with her doesn’t mean it’s actually a good gift for her, especially if he doesn’t tell her that. I’m puzzled how they got together and some of the timeline of their relationship. I’d love to read his memoir!

I ended up with a lot more questions than answers. It was refreshing to see someone admit they wanted to have a second child as something to fill a hole and to have something to do. I’m glad they decided against this after an unfortunate miscarriage and instead she turned to horses.

I felt like the book didn’t go deep enough into her family and her motives or the horses. It fell a little flat. When she learns of the tragedy at the stable, she doesn’t actually seem to be upset about it. She knows and relays that others are but she mostly seems surprised. It’s an oddly cold, detached book all around. It made me wonder why she felt the need to write it rather than just sell a story about polo to a newspaper, website or magazine.

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