Hack, the patriarch breeder and trainer, is aged and blind, and his wife, Louetta, is confined by rheumatoid arthritis. Their daughter, Jewel, struggles to care for them and the horses while dealing with her own home and job—not to mention her lackluster second husband, Eddie, and Carley, her drug-addicted daughter. Many days, Jewel is only sure she loves the horses. But she holds it all together. Until her brother, Cal, shows up again. Jewel already has reason to hate Cal, and when he meets up with Carley, he throws the family into crisis—and gives Jewel reason to pick up a gun.
Every family has heartbreaks, failures, a black sheep or two. And some families end in tatters. But some stumble on the secret of survival: if the leader breaks down, others step up and step in. In this lyrical novel, when the inept, the addict, and the ex-con join to weave the family story back together, either the barn will burn to the ground or something bigger than any of them will emerge, shining with hope. Remember My Beauties grows large and wide as it reveals what may save us.
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Finally! A book that does not rely on over-used stereotypes of Kentuckians! There was a television show a couple of years back that was quite popular, but it rubbed me the wrong way. It involved someone returning home to a small Kentucky town after a number of years. But most of the locals were illiterate, inbred, income-challenged and involved in the 'hillbilly heroin trade'.
Hugo's Kentucky is a more balanced view. To be sure, we have our share of the 'less reputable members of society'. Most Kentuckians are just like most other people - trying to make an honest living and make better lives for themselves and their families.
Probably the two things Kentucky is most famous for is horses (and the Kentucky Derby) and basketball. On one side of the state we even 'bleed blue', which is also appropriate for the horse trade because thoroughbred racing is called 'the sport of kings'.
Two things many Kentuckians have in common are a love of family and the ability to 'keep treading' until we reach firmer ground. Jewel is that kind of woman. She has to be. Her aging parents are unable to care fully for themselves anymore. Her daughter is into drugs. Her step-daughter is *ahem* a young woman of easy virtue and her 2nd husband seems to care for her hair as much as he cares for her.
'The beauties' referred to in the title are the horses on the family farm. Jewel's father was a breeder and trainer, but can no longer care for the horses as he once did due to the loss of his eyesight. But he doesn't want to 'give up' either.
Author Lynne Hugo gives us a very 'real' story. The action is alternately poignant and breath-taking. The characters are flesh-and-blood in all its strength and weakness - in fact, I think I know a couple of them in real life. (Ok. So I only know people like them. Work with me. *grin*)
Remember My Beauties rockets to at least the top three of my list of favorite novels set in Kentucky. I know there are several reading challenges that feature filling in a list of books set in each state of the US and heartily recommend this book to fill folks' Kentucky space.
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(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.)