I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then I thought there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? If so, please feel free to participate as anyone can join. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.
Today’s Shabby Share is:
The Red Pony
Blurb from Goodreads:
Raised on a ranch in northern California, Jody is well-schooled in the hard work and demands of a rancher’s life. He is used to the way of horses, too; but nothing has prepared him for the special connection he will forge with Gabilan, the hot-tempered pony his father gives him. With Billy Buck, the hired hand, Jody tends and trains his horse, restlessly anticipating the moment he will sit high upon Gabilan’s saddle. But when Gabilan falls ill, Jody discovers there are still lessons he must learn about the ways of nature and, particularly, the ways of man.
My thoughts on this book:
I can still remember reading this book for the first time when I was in junior high school and I didn’t like it. From the look of the cover and title, you’d think you’d be reading a happy little novella about a boy and his horse, but it’s so much more than that.
The Red Pony is a collection of four short stories about a 10-year-old boy named Jody and his life on a ranch with his family. As time moves forward and he matures, Jody is exposed to multiple events and learns many lessons on what it means to be a man. Much of what he learns comes from his father and the farm hand named Billy. He looks up to them both.
“Jody did not ask where his father and Billy Buck were riding that day, but he wished he might go along. His father was a disciplinarian. Jody obeyed him in everything without questions of any kind.”
I don’t want to summarize the four stories and spoil them for those that haven’t read this, but I will say I had a good mix of emotions when reading it for the second time. I was sad and angry multiple times and didn’t care for a few of the characters, but there was happiness here too, especially when Jody gains some responsibility and gets excited about upcoming future events like visiting with his grandfather, or caring for his pony by himself for the first time.
“Jody was glad when they had gone. He took brush and currycomb from the wall, took down the barrier of the box stall and stepped cautiously in.”
One thing I didn’t like, was how I didn’t really see Jody’s character change over time. With the death he’s experienced, he certainly doesn’t seem to be effected by it much and maybe that’s because as a boy, he wasn’t allowed to share his feelings vocally. His actions portray anger, but not a whole lot of sympathy for the animals themselves as he still continues to irritate them by throwing rocks, etc. He seems to forget about how sad he was to lose a friend to death and doesn’t make the connection.
There are many themes in this book including coming of age, tragedy, death and disappointment to mention a few, but also one I didn’t truly pick up on the first time I read it. It appears that the modern men in the story don’t feel that they measure up to older men from the past. This is something I experienced myself–even as a female–when I moved out to the country. Being raised in the city meant that I didn’t have the experience the country folk had as far as raising your own food, and in turn, putting the animals to death. A lady I met within the first year of living in the country told me that my generation weren’t survivors and I had to stand corrected as I realized there was no way I was going to cut a chicken’s head off with my hand like she did so effortlessly, in fact, I wasn’t ever going to do it. There were multiple times in the book that I cringed because of the details that were given and it reminded me of this very moment in my life, but this is farm life, whether you’re exposed or not and that’s just part of it.
Overall, this is a powerful little novel and worth a try. You might end up hating it, or you might be sucked into the writing like I was because it’s so descriptive and realistic. I wound up devouring this in one sitting when reading it for the second time.
My copy is from 1992, not very old, but still vintage. It’s in good condition for the most part with mainly cover wear.
My rating is 4****
- Paperback, 100 pages
- Published January 1st 1992 by Penguin (Non-Classics) (first published 1933)
- Original Title: The Red Pony
- ISBN: 0140177361 (ISBN13: 9780140177367)
Thanks for checking out Shabby Sunday! Have you read this book or others by John Steinbeck? Feel free to share your thoughts below. ❤