Of course, it’s not only horses; it’s most animals that respond to human attention, nurture, and love on what is very much a two-way street. I wrote about my beautiful therapy Labrador retriever, Hannah, in Where The Trail Grows Faint, a memoir of her antics while she and I worked in a nursing home at the same time my sister and I were coping with our own parents’ decline. I believe in the therapeutic power of animals. I wanted my new novel to highlight how sometimes special animals are at the heart of how we save ourselves in remarkable and surprising ways.
Remember My Beauties will be published by the literary fiction imprint of Northern Illinois University Press, Switchgrass Books, on April 18. It’s set in the bluegrass country of Kentucky on a small, ramshackle horse breeding farm, peopled by a falling-apart family. The protagonist, Jewel, is part of the sandwich generation, struggling with her own job, home, marriage, drug-troubled daughter, and step-children at the same time she’s trying desperately to take care of her disabled parents and the last of the horses on the family farm, ten miles away. She’s not only a skilled horsewoman herself, she’s a devoted one. Nothing’s easy, but she manages. But then her brother, Cal, shows up. He’d disappeared seven years ago, but comes back hoping to hit his parents up for money now that the statute of limitations has expired. Jewel tells her parents that if they let him in, she’ll quit caring for them.
You might guess this much: they let him in. Here’s what you might not guess: Jewel knows how to use a gun.
The publisher just put Remember My Beauties up for pre-order on Amazon, and it will soon be on other online outlets, too. I’d love it if you take a minute to browse around my new website (many thanks to Lucinda and Bryan of Nodebud Authors!) and be so appreciative if you let me know what you think.