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The Horse Dancer: Book review

Reviewed by's Stephanie Zajkowski

Note to self: do not start reading new book by unfamiliar author whilst between jobs on a Saturday afternoon.

That's exactly what I did when I sat down last weekend to read "a few pages" of The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes.

Four hours later(ish), I emerged from its pages, having been swept up in this heart-warming tale.

Its opening chapter is both intriguing and theatrical, thrusting you into the magical world of Le Cadre Noir, an elite French riding academy where young, hot-headed protégée Henri Lachapelle is about to perform in the public arena.

With his English girlfriend watching from the stands, will Henri's dream of reaching the pinnacle of his riding career be fulfilled?

Fast forward to the modern day, and the harsh reality of 21st century London.

Battle-weary child advocate lawyer Natasha is unable to have children of her own. Her marriage has broken down and her often thankless job is all consuming.

In East London, 14-year-old Sarah is living with her elderly grandpa in the grimy poverty of a council estate.

But Grandpa Henri has provided Sarah with two important things, the constancy of his love and an exceptional horse of her own, named Boo, which Sarah keeps in a stable under a railway arch.

You see, Grandpa Henri recognises in Sarah something he once had himself, a rare talent for horsemanship.

He dreams of one day returning with her to Le Cadre Noir, where she might fulfil the long abandoned promise of his youth.

But fate takes a cruel twist when Henri has a stroke and he has to go into care. Sarah's life begins to unravel, until a chance encounter one night with Natasha forces both womens' lives in an unexpected direction.

From here, The Horse Dancer doesn't stray far from a reasonably predictable path. It may be a collision of worlds, but ultimately Natasha and Sarah are travelling on the same road.

However the powerful portrayal of two vulnerable yet incredibly strong women will certainly touch your heart. And you'll be rooting for everyone to have the happy ending they deserve.

The Horse Dancer is one of those books you can recommend and reliably pass around among your girlfriends, sisters and mums.

Rating: 8/10

Title: The Horse Dancer
Author: Jojo Moyes
Available: Now
RRP: $38.99
Publisher: Hachette