Jeannette Walls wrote the extraordinary memoir The Glass Castle. I loved that book. Half Broke Horses is also a delight but in a different way. This is called “A True Life Novel”, an odd term. Ms. Walls explains that the book is based on the stories her grandmother Lily Casey Smith told about her own life. It’s impossible to check the facts so it couldn’t quite be called a biography, but the gist of it is true.
Set mostly in the wilds of Texas, the book vividly paints of a picture of the colorful characters who inhabit a tough landscape. Lily farms, teaches, gets an education, takes flying lessons, raises a family, and breaks horses with a gusto that’s infectious.
The book is written in the first person, as though Lily were speaking to you. Her voice is marvelous; she (and Ms. Walls) are natural born story tellers. Lily is a strong, determined woman who takes no guff from anyone, and admits to her mistakes without flinching. Spending time with her is a delight. I raced through the book and sighed with regret when it was over.