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Shortlisted for the Anasoft Litera 2014
I lived several lives in the brief instant before my feet touched the ground. The music stopped. I landed on the hard surface like an accomplished equestrienne. The equestrienne bowed. The audience applauded.
It is 1984 and a small town somewhere in the east of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic is in the firm grip of totalitarianism. Unruly teenager Karolína is growing up in an unconventional all-female household including her hot-blooded, knife-wielding grandmother.
Repelled by her Mum’s serial love affairs, Karolína runs away and stumbles upon a riding school on the edge of town. There, she befriends Romana, a girl with one leg shorter than the other and Matilda, a rider and trainer who helps the two girls overcome their physical limitations. Together they found a successful trick riding team and soon it seems that half flags, mills and scales are not the only tricks flashing like blades up her sequinned sleeve as Karolína explores Pink Floyd and smoking, and discovers her knack for seeing deep into others’ souls.
The fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 and the subsequent arrival of capitalism threatens to destroy the riding school. The team has to turn professional. But in a sport of perfect scores is there still room for Romana and Karolína…?
The Equestrienne is a poetic, caustic coming-of-age novel about the desire of one young girl to realise her dreams before and after Velvet Revolution; it is a celebration of friendship between women and also a bitter acknowledgement that greed the desire for power can destroy any relationship.