Bred to Win

William Kinsolving, Author
William Kinsolving, Author Doubleday Books $19.95 (612p) ISBN 978-0-385-26123-4
Reviewed on: 03/31/1990
Release date: 04/01/1990
Long on plot and short on subtlety, this soap-operatic novel by the author of Raven and Born with the Century reads like a teleplay for a miniseries. Fifteen-year-old Annie Grebauer, born into a Kentucky family of impoverished, incestuous white trash, rescues from death a prize thoroughbred belonging to millionaire socialite horse breeder Sam Cumberland. She runs away to New York, learns about horse racing at Belmont, and thereafter rotates among glamorous lovers, horse farms and European countries, accumulating wealth, fame, thoroughbreds, surnames and scandals, but nonetheless preferring mucking out horse stalls to wearing mink coats and riding in limousines. Kinsolving depicts the international thoroughbred business and its socioeconomic hierarchy in quasi-Balzacian detail, injecting farfetched yet spicy subplots involving the Mafia underworld and Nazi war criminals. The contrived, formulaic plot relies on coincidences but improves considerably in the novel's less predictable second half, where symbolic parallels add psychological and literary sophistication. Kinsolving's likable heroine, high-minded and scurrilous, surprising and always human, is the novel's best asset. Movie rights to Warner Bros . ; Literary Guild main selection; Doubleday Book Club alternate. (May)
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