On The Edge
Pan, 2002 (2002)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
n The Edge
is the engaging story of a recently widowed young mother who works to establish herself as a woman trainer in the male world of English horse racing. Though it's essentially a tale of racing and relationships, the emphasis is on the former more than the latter - the trials and tribulations faced by a woman trying to make a go of a racing career. The story opens as Jan Hardy buries her Welsh sheepfarmer husband and plans to sell the land he left her, despite the objections of her difficult mother-in-law. Jan knows that she cannot make a living from farming but hopes to succeed as a trainer, having already developed a local reputation as a winner.
an invites her upper class employee and friend, the lovely Annabel, to come with her to Gloucestershire, and is delighted when she accepts. She purchases the dillapidated Edge Farm in the Cotswolds near her parents, and moves into a caravan with her two small children. Jan slowly attracts a group of helpers, from carpenter Gerry who has a crush on her, to attractive Eddie whom she schools as a competitor along with his horse. But she has enemies too - a past owner who defrauded her on the sale of the farm and whom she suspects of an act of sabotage that cost her in horses and in reputation, the veterinarian who can't handle her rejection (and the kick that accompanied it) and a local female trainer whose envy of Jan's talents is corrosive.
On The Edge
an absorbing story, though Jan's children seemed like accessories, too unintrusive in her life to be real. When she does finally achieve her goal of being granted a coveted public training license from the Jockey Club, the reader cheers her on. If you've ever felt any fascination for the world of English racing, popularized in Dick Francis' mysteries, you'll enjoy this novel.
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