As a horse rider myself, I hesitated before ordering Clover Stroud's memoir, The Wild Other. There was a small knot in my stomach, wondering whether reading a book about a terrible horse-riding accident would, in fact, fill me with nothing but fear and leave me wondering why I climb into the saddle of my own horse each day.
But it did the complete opposite. Clover's writing runs like poetry across the pages, making it a beautiful read on its own but the way she speaks of horses simply cemented in my mind exactly why I do ride, despite the risks. I saw the awe in which I find myself looking at horses with echoed throughout Clover's writing. I felt pleased that not only had Clover been able to put into words just how incredible the bond between rider and horse is, but that she had been able to do it so beautifully, so eloquently. Her passion for horses, along with her sheer strength, determination and wildness resonated in every page and I found myself feeling inspired, more than I felt scared.
The memoir is an unbelievably honest account of Clover's life, from the moment it was shattered at just 16 years of age following a riding accident that left her mother permanently disabled.
Full of tales of ordinary ponies, racehorses, gypsy cobs, and rodeos, this is a book that even those who can't ride themselves will love. A story of love, families, trauma, sex, and travel, Clover has lived through an extraordinary amount of pain but the way she battles through it left me feeling inspired.
I cannot claim to understand the heartbreak that Clover, nor any of her family, went through following her mother's accident but her talent for writing does make it possible to imagine what it may have felt like. Clover's talents lie not only in her ability to survive such a tremendous ordeal but in the way that she can bring to life her story with such emotion. And it brought me close to tears on more than one occasion.
Including tales from England, Ireland, Russia and America, you find yourself constantly wondering where Clover will end up next. Despite its harrowing backbone, the book is impossible to put down; in fact, it was so addictive that I read the last 80 pages of the book in one sitting, but turning the last page I felt a little lost. Returning back to the real world, I found myself left with the ache that all good books leave you with after they've had you hurtling through the last pages, desperate to read more, only to then have you reach the end all too soon. And for days after reading it, I found myself thinking of it in any spare moment I had and on more than one occasion, I was tempted to pick it up and start from the beginning once more.
If you're looking for a book that is raw yet beautifully written, that intersperses daily life with exciting adventures and will fill you with admiration for a woman who comes back fighting no matter what life throws at her, Clover Stroud's The Wild Other is the book for you. It will leave you feeling emotional and empowered all at once and will have you thinking about it well after you've turned the final page.
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