I was fifteen years old when my parents sent me away to the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. The camp was located in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, concealed in the Blue Ridge Mountains. You could drive by the entrance and never see it, not unless you were looking, and carefully; my father missed it four times before I finally signalled that we had arrived.
Thea has been sent away. It’s a punishment, removed from her family she loves so much and made to live amongst strangers. She has never known people outside her family, but she knows she deserves her punishment. She must leave her beloved Sasi behind but at least she will be riding, for she has been sent to Yonahlosse: A summer equestrian respite, educating young ladies since 1902.
Set in 1920s America, the novel spans a time of in-betweens. Not only is Thea at that awkward age between child and adult, but it is also a time where women’s roles and rights were changing, social rules were shifting and of course the start of the Great Depression; where the once rich have to deal with being the new poor. Thea has lived a very sheltered life and somehow that manages to continue despite the rest of the world falling into chaos. She comes across as a bit distant. She’s one of those characters who you won’t exactly like as a person but it all fits with everything you learn about her and her upbringing.
I have never quite grown out of horse books and being a pony-mad girl growing up, I would have killed to have been sent away to riding camp long term! Anton is careful to explain some things that would seem obvious to those who know horses so a lack of knowledge wouldn’t get in the way of enjoying Yonahlossee. However, I do know some people just don’t like horses and well, they do play a big enough role to get annoying if you’re that way inclined. It’s not really about the horses though; it’s about a girl who is cushioned throughout life and the resulting consequences.
I did think at the start that I knew what her secret was and whilst I may have been partly right, each dip into the past reveals something new and my prediction changed repeatedly. It’s fairly slow-paced but enough information is drip-fed at the right moments to keep the intrigue going. I loved the setting, both in time and the secluded ranch in North Carolina. I have seen some people recommending this for fans of The Great Gatsby, but in all honestly, I enjoyed Yonahlossee a whole lot more.
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is published by Tinder Press, an imprint of Headline, and will be available in hardback and ebooks formats from 6th June 2013. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.
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