Parthian continue to publish excellent translated fiction, this time in the form of a powerful parable set against the backdrop of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. From Uršuľa Kovalyk, The Equestrienne tells the story of Karolína, a young girl bullied at school and unhappy at home. Her world brightens when she stumbles upon a riding centre, befriending another young girl called Romana, and a haggard horse called Sesil. The three of them form an unlikely surrogate family. With the help of their riding trainer, Matilda, they vigorously pursue their equestrian ambitions.
Despite this seemingly conventional premise, The Equestrienne is much more than just a coming-of age-story; it is a moving depiction of friendship and the loss of innocence, as well as being a convincing portrayal of what it was like to live in Czechoslovakia during this period, particularly from a female perspective. As the communist regime collapses, so do Karolina’s sporting dreams, and as the country gives into the modern pattern of consumerism, the young characters begin to conform to the expectations of adulthood, leaving behind their younger selves.
Moving and deceptively modern, The Equestrienne can be viewed as an ode to freedom, and the complications that can occur when we strive for it.
The Equestrienne, Uršuľa Kovalyk [trans. Julia & Peter Sherwood] (Parthian)
Price: £8.99. Info: here
words JOSHUA REES
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