Over the course of her adolescence, Natalie lost everyone that had ever mattered to her--her beloved aunt, her father, her troubled but brilliant sister. Retreating from people and the complexities of relationships, at the age of sixteen she turned ...
to the horse world, immersing herself in the rituals and routines of the barn and moving on to another farm and another set of horses whenever she began to lose her grip on her essential mantra: nothing really matters.
As In the Presence of Horses begins, Natalie takes a new position, this time on a farm near her childhood home of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. At first it seems like this will be a job like any other, but as the rolling hills of this familiar landscape begin to evoke long-buried memories, Natalie meets a horse who will change her life forever. His name is Twister: a big, true black with awkward hocks and a disquieting presence. Riding him, Natalie slowly learns to feel again, and as she learns to feel, she will finally need to face the demons of her past and remember how to love.
In the Presence of Horses is a marvelous depiction of both loss and how one woman comes to terms with it, and of the way in which interaction with animals and landscape can help to heal. Both beautifully done and moving, the novel mixes poignance with solid storytelling in a manner reminiscent of Jane Smiley and Barbara Kingsolver.