When Thomas Fox Averill first heard Jimmy Driftwood's ballad "Tennessee Stud," he found the song hauntingly compelling. As he began to imagine the story behind the lyrics, he set out to research the song's history--a tale from "along about eightee

When Thomas Fox Averill first heard Jimmy Driftwood's ballad "Tennessee Stud," he found the song hauntingly compelling. As he began to imagine the story behind the lyrics, he set out to research the song's history--a tale from "along about eighteen and twenty-five" of the legendary exploits of the greatest horse that ever lived, the "Tennessee Stud," and his owner.

Traveling the same route the song chronicles, from Tennessee into Arkansas, through Texas and into Mexico, Averill visited racetracks, Spanish missions, historical museums, a living history farm, and national parks, inventing characters of his own along the way. His novel captures the spirit of the ballad while telling the story of Robert Johnson, a man who holds love in his heart though adventure rules his time. Pursued by a bounty hunter, Indians, and his conscience, Johnson and his horse are tested, strengthened, and made resolute.


“Both an odyssey and a great love story, rode is made compelling by its thoughtful hero and the surprising woman he longs for. Precise language and authentic detail render a vivid sense of another time, and Averill’s Southern landscape, so beautifully drawn, is peopled with unforgettable men and women.” —Laura Moriarty, author of The Center of Everything.


“No one drives a narrative better than Thomas Fox Averill, and this novel version of a grand American tale shows Tom Averill’s skills at their best. rode performs not only through action but the perfect articulation of 19th Century Arkansas and Tennessee. Averill knows the lingo, blunt, uncompromising, and accurate, from saddle trees to foals, and even to a dauncy mare, a wonderful allusion to the author’s Scottish heritage and ours. This is complicated evocation of character, yes, in Robert Johnson, Jo Benson, and others; but even more, Thomas Averill’s narrative rides evocative language like a great stud horse.”—Robert Stewart, author of Outside Language: Essays, editor, New Letters magazine

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