This novel begins with a tragedy perpetrated on the innocent by the unwitting. Helen, the inadvertent catalyst of misery, is undone by ensuing events, and, to claw her way up and out of pain, she makes decisions hurtful to those she loves most, leaving them bewildered and angry. In her defense, she uses what coping skills she has, but they do not have positive results.
The book, however, is not about misery. It is about recovery and accepting help, and acknowledging weakness and finding joy. Moreover, as is true of real life, it is Helen herself who initiates the change.
A few years later, she visited the dude ranch of long time friends. The visit to the country, while it does not immediately heal her heartbreak, at least defeats the nightmares which are replaced by visions of “Spirit Ponies” who were seen by her Nez Perce ancestors. They are the harbingers of a great change coming.
Another negligent act, not a tragedy this time, but one that results in a hospital stay for Torrey and the apprehension of Helen. This leads to Helen being in charge of the kitchen and hostess duties for a group of soap opera stars and other Hollywood types. Luckily, there is only one self-involved diva in the group, but she is bent on wreaking havoc for havoc’s sake. Helen tries to stay one step ahead of her, but she is also kept busy making sure that everyone is fed and saddled up on time. Also, she is reconnecting with her estranged son and fighting an attraction to one of the guests. In the midst of all this organized chaos, she finds herself coming back to life.
What Helen learns is the mental burden lifting that comes when we stop concentrating on ourselves and start concentrating on the needs of others. She does not learn it consciously. She is so busy making cobblers, packing lunches and making guests feel welcome that she starts reconnecting with her world in spite of herself. Spirit Ponies is a novel of healing and hope.
To learn more about this and other books, visit the Boulder City Library at 701 Adams Boulevard, 293-1281, www.bouldercitylibrary.org