Monday, February 22, 2010

Animal Magnetism (2009)

A short review of a memoir by Rita Mae Brown, author of the popular Sister Jane foxhunting mysteries. To explain the last two links, which are left hanging by the review itself, among the topics Brown's wide-ranging book addresses are horse slaughter and the death of the racehorse Ferdinand.

Animal Magnetism
Rita Mae Brown
2009, Ballantine Books

This book is about the many lessons I've learned, the animals who have loved me, endured me, and taught me, and my bottomless love for them in return.

The prolific writer and author of the popular Sneaky Pie cat mysteries and Sister Jane foxhunting mysteries rambles pleasantly in this memoir, always returning to her love of nature, animals and life.

Born in Pennsylvania, Brown was raised in a family that identified intensely as Southern and eccentric.

Mother had a refreshingly low opinion of monogamy. Naturally, one did one's best. If a wild moment came upon you, the best course of action was to be discreet...

A little of that flavor of playful southern charm can go a long way, and Brown doesn't belabor it. She flickers over to her mother's interest in foxes, and her own childhood study of them. While the book ranges over topics as diverse as farming, politics, cats and family history, it keeps returning to horses and foxhunting.

Horses, like women, dazzle. The result: brains fly out the window. Even experienced horsemen can lose their composure. You pay for beauty.

While I long ago reach my lifetime quota of country wisdom and southern oddity, there are just too many good lines in this book to hold her tendency toward both against her. One final crack:

A dog will whine if it's upset or needs something, but no animal whines in the manner of a human. It's deeply boring when a woman does it and beyond the pale when a man does it. Patriarchy brings extra benefits, extra burdens. You want the benefits, accept the burdens.

Author website - Sister Jane books
Author website - excerpt from Animal Magnetism
Oak Ridge Fox Hunt
The Bloodhorse article about Ferdinand's fate
Thoroughbred Retirement Fund

Other books
Brown has written a lot of books, so I'll just list the foxhunting mystery series in which horses, hounds, and everyone else gets a voice.

Full Cry
The Hunt Ball
The Hounds And The Fury
The Tell-Tale Horse
Hounded To Death

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