An American myth and a contemporary portrait of the scars of the past that run through a family and of our desperate need to escape our history, to subsume it with pleasure - or to rise above it with glory.
Hellsmouth, a willful thoroughbred filly, has the legacy of a family riding on her.
The Forges: one of the oldest and proudest families in Kentucky; descended from the first settlers to brave the Wilderness Road; as mythic as the history of the South itself; and now, first-time horse breeders. Through an act of naked ambition, Henry Forge is attempting to blaze this new path on the family's crop farm. His daughter, Henrietta, becomes his partner in the endeavour but has desires of her own.
When Allmon Shaughnessy, an African American man fresh from prison, comes to work in the stables, the ugliness of the farm's history rears its head. Together, through sheer will, the three stubbornly try to create a new future - one that isn't determined by Kentucky's bloody past - while they mould Hellsmouth into a champion.
The Sport of Kings has the force of an epic. A majestic story of speed and hunger, racism and justice, this novel is an astonishment from start to finish.
"With The Sport of Kings, C.E. Morgan has delivered a masterpiece. Rich, deep, and ambitious, this book is, by any standard, a Great American Novel." (Philipp Meyer, author of The Son and American Rust)
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Loved it, loved it, loved it.
I am not surprised that this novel has been nominated for so many prizes. If you like historical novels that cover big themes (racism, slavery, inter-racial relationships, misogyny, evolution, Darwinism, family loyalty, cultural supremacy, the failure of American healthcare systems, criminal justice etc) then this is a story worth investing in. It is a long book and I managed to listen to it in big chunks which really helped to get me hooked.
Set against the world of horse breeding and racing in Kentucky this is the story of the rich, white Forge family. When a young mixed-race ex convict arrives in their lives and proves himself to be an expert handler of their prize racehorse, he ruffles feathers and piques interest in more ways than one. Thus he and the Forge family are set on a path to mutual destruction and lost opportunities.
A masterclass of writing and sympathetic narration. I will definitely listen to this again.
Gone With the Wind meets Moby Dick and Deadwood
This will become a classic. Greatly admired by most reviewers, from the New Yorker to the Telegraph. The audible version is exquisitely read.
Meet Reuben Bedford Walker the Third. You won't be the same again.
I have not heard of him before. But I tried to send him a message to say Thanks! and Wow!
At 600 pages. Unlikely. Best read slowly, since it contains many interludes and usually beautiful diversions.
The best book I have listened to for a long time.