Es hatte aufgehört zu regnen. Zwischen Wolkengebirgen kam die Sonne hervor und schien auf die Kletterrosen an den Steinmauern. Der Weg zu den Koppeln war aufgeweicht und gemustert von den Abdrücken vieler Pferdehufe. Zwischen Heidekraut und Moospolstern standen die Pferde dicht beieinander. Sie hatten die Köpfe wittern erhoben; ihr Fell glänzte, und die Mähnen flatterten im leichten Wind wie Schals aus Seide.
Der Pferdehof The Laurels am Fuß der schottischen Hochlandberge ist zur Zuflucht für alte, kranke und misshandelte Pferde geworden. Hier wird das Mädchen Laurie ein Jahr lang bei der Arbeit mit den Pferden helfen.
The Cover (and Title)
The series design is not growing on me, but at least the picture is a little more colourful than the one from the first book. Still has nothing to do with the content, but that would be too much to ask for, wouldn’t it? However, there’s one issue that’s rather grave: the title. While the song “Danny Boy” is referenced several times (starting in book one) and it’s used in regard to the character Danny, the song is still an Irish and not a Scottish folk song, so it’s just wrong to use it here to this extent.
After finishing the first one, I immediately went on to book two. I had forgotten most about this series and was pleasantly surprised how much I still enjoy it! If I continue my reread this quickly, I might even have a chance to finally finish the series this year – 13 years after starting it!
This one picks up pretty much right where the first book left us – and it continues in just the same fashion, so we’re onto the second non-episodic episode, the second snippet of the whole story. Meaning: even ten days after Laurie arrived in Scotland, there’s still no all-encompassing subplot. There are, however, two things most of the story revolves around:
- The book gets darker, meaning Laurie is faced with the human abysses and inevitability in her everyday work at the horse sanctuary: the loss of two horses and one abused to the brink of death as well as having to give one up to a new home in order to make room for other horses in need. What can I say, reality is a bitch; horse novels that have the balls to address those issues I hold in very high regard.
- The blossoming relationship between Laurie and her neighbour Danny: going to a cèilidh together, being out for long walks and secret meetings at the property border, ensnaring the local postie for undercover deliveries and writing each other letters hidden away in an old oak. And yet, it’s never as saccharine as it might sound when summarised thus. The family feud also plays a bigger role: uncle Scott refusing to talk to Laurie for several days when finding out she went out with Danny and Sheila, hanging up the phone on Danny and being just very gruff about it in general. It’s both very entertaining and enraging at the same time. There are a couple of hints but nothing to really go on to figure out what happened in the past.
Furthermore, the The Laurels family gets a new addition: a very workaholic housekeeper, who becomes enemies with Mrs Tweedie at first glance. Of course, adding a new character proves to be a perfect opportunity to include more political content, resulting in one of the two rather lengthy and not quite organic insertions (I’m still a huge fan of the content, just not the execution).
And then there’s of course the atmospheric first person past tense narration, wonderful setting, and me dreaming myself to Scotland. Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling indeed (as long as we forget that this would rather whisk us away to Ireland, but in that regard, I’m not picky.)