In the late 1950s, women's only ambition was to become wives and mothers. But archeology student Catherine has other passions, namely ancient relics. She gets bit by the bug one summer in London when she winds up working on a dig at Londinium. From there, she leaves behind her cushy New Jersey home and New York fiance to work alone on a survey of a Montana canyon. If Catherine finds anything worth preserving, it could put a proposed dam project in jeopardy. Catherine thinks she's been hired because of her experience in London, but the reasons for hiring her, a woman, have nothing to do with past experience.
Painted Horses by Malcolm Brooks is as much about Catherine as it is about they mysterious John H who lives in the canyon protecting the wild horses. The locals don't know much about him, except that he paints his horses, but he's made less mysterious to the reader through a series of flashbacks that explain how John H came to be in the Montana canyon.
Catherine and John H become very important to each other over the course of Catherine's stay, and they both discover more about the canyon, themselves, and the way the world works than they expected to.
I wasn't always clear on what Catherine was discovering, nor had I ever heard of Basque people before. But I still really enjoyed the story and the author's writing.
Painted Horses is published by Grove Press and is available to purchase now. I picked up a free advance review copy from Book Expo America with no obligation to review it.