The Sport of Kings

C.E. Morgan. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (560p) ISBN 978-0-374-28108-3
Morgan’s enjoyable if overwritten novel about horse racing is, at heart, a story about parents and children. In 1965, Henry Forge, scion of a powerful white Kentucky dynasty, defies his tyrannical father’s wishes by turning their corn farm into a horse farm, where he hopes to turn out thoroughbred racers. Set around the year 2007, Henry’s equally headstrong daughter, Henrietta, defies her father by hiring a black ex-con named Allmon Shaughnessy to work in the stables. Raised in Cincinnati by a well-meaning single mother suffering from Lupus, Allmon drifted into petty crime at an early age. Now he is trying to make a new start at Forge Run Farm, where Henry and Henrietta have pinned all their hopes on Hellsmouth, a thoroughbred filly from an historic bloodline. Henry, having inherited his father’s belief in the inferiority of the black race, does everything possible to stop the growing attraction between Allmon and his daughter, but fate has a shocking destiny in store for them. The novel starts strong out of the gate, with Henry, Henrietta, and Allmon each getting nearly 100 pages for his or her own immersive backstory, then blows it in the backstretch with a series of melodramatic incidents that undermines the care with which Morgan (All the Living) has created these larger-than-life characters. However, fans of Jane Smiley’s Horse Heaven and Jaimy Gordon’s Lord of Misrule will appreciate the novel’s authentically pungent shed-row atmosphere, as ultimately satisfying as a mint julep on Derby Day. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/07/2016
Release date: 05/03/2016
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-4272-7266-9
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-00-731326-6
Hardcover - 560 pages - 978-0-307-39735-5
Open Ebook - 560 pages - 978-0-374-71517-5
Paperback - 560 pages - 978-0-307-39736-2
Paperback - 560 pages - 978-1-250-13184-3
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