I’ve had a run of bad luck with audio books in the past four weeks. I wanted to listen to Sara Gruen’s Riding Lessons, because I loved Water for Elephants. Gruen took me inside the world of the circus, but she didn’t take me into the world of horses.
Instead of being swept away by the story, I was put off by two things: the reader and the story itself.
The reader, Maggi-Meg Reed, overemoted to the point that I wanted to scream. Not only did two of the main characters whine and kvetch their way through 9 CDs, but the way Reed read the story was way over the top.
The protagonist Annemarie has a terrible run of bad luck. It’s enough to make anyone cranky. Sure, she had to deal with a sudden divorce, job loss, a rebellious teenaged daughter, her father’s illness, and moving back to the family home. She becomes obsessed with a horse. When her daughter disappears, her mind is still on the horse, not on the missing girl. Alas, it wasn’t until the final CD that Annemarie began to come out of her self pity. To add to my dislike, the ending was forced and rushed. I didn’t see enough growth in Annemarie or her daughter to lead to the “everyone lived happily ever after” ending. Bunk.
By the end of the last disk, I was ready to shout “enough already.” I’m not sure I’ll pick up another of her books.