Finding courage to pursue a passion, Siobhan Ellis
The Forever Horse
Harper Collins Publishing
February 9, 2021
“I am going to be the greatest artist in the world. That is my plan – and when I make my mind up, I do not fail.”
After reading a number of Stacy Gregg’s books, I had very high expectations for her latest standalone novel The Forever Horse. She did not fail to meet them. Like many Stacy Gregg novels, The Forever Horse cleverly intertwines past with the present with the creative use of a diary from the 1850s. Written for early teens, The Forever Horse is a novel about overcoming obstacles and exceeding extreme expectations that draws the reader into the tale within the first few sentences.
“The first horse I ever loved cost thirteen million dollars.” Maisie, the young thirteen-year-old artist at the centre of the tale, was an art prodigy. She began painting horses at an extremely young age, progressively getting better and better until the opportunity to study art abroad in Paris arose. As with many Stacy Gregg novels, the author includes the diary of a young girl, of whom, shares the same passion as the young girl, always featuring in the centre of her novels. Maisie is looked down upon by her mentor and classmates, underestimated due to her age. Continuing the novel is a simple task for the reader as while the novel goes on, Maisie creates bonds with people, and horses, and realises that, in order to be a good artist, she must be true to herself and paint with not only her hands but her heart. Throughout the novel, the reader will find that Maisie often turns to the diary of Rose Bonifait, a famous artist from the 1850s, for aid as she attempts to prove her worth to her tough professor and older classmates.
While in Paris, Maisie meets her “muse”, a police-horse in the Célestins Garde, Claude. Claude, though he is a horse, supports Maisie through thick and thin. Maisie knows that if she cannot turn to the diary of Rose Bonifait, Claude will always be there, showing how the novel received the name; The Forever Horse. In writing The Forever Horse, Stacy Gregg demonstrates the powerful, unbreakable bond between man and animal. Maisie not only paints throughout the story but explores Paris with an event that leaves the reader heartbroken in the midst of the novel. Using the diary of a young girl from centuries ago throughout the novel not only causes the novel to stand out but interests the reader and causes them to read on and want more.
As made clear in the epilogue in most Stacy Gregg books, a large amount of research goes into the making of the novel. Rose Bonifait, though the name is created by the author, is based upon the famous artist, Rosa Bonheur. Stacy Gregg not only writes spectacular novels that capture the intended audience, but she also incorporates important moments in world history.
Stacy Gregg does an excellent job in tackling an extremely relevant and sensitive topic -sexism – through the intertwining of past and present. Growing up in the 1850s, Rose found it extremely difficult to demonstrate her artistic talent due to her sex. Being a girl, Rose was often overlooked by many and discarded without another thought. Rose, seeking to prove society wrong, proved her worth in becoming one of the most famous artists of her time. Stacy Gregg proves to the reader that gender should not and does not control who succeeds and who doesn’t.
The Forever Horse is a magnificent tale of hope, strength, and the courage it takes to pursue one’s passion. Stacy Gregg does an outstanding job in tackling relevant topics, enticing the audience, and leaving the reader longing for more in not only The Forever Horse but her other works too. I would recommend The Forever Horse to anyone who wishes to find the courage, hope, and strength to pursue a passion and anyone who longs for a heartwarming tale of companionship.
- Siobhan Ellis is 16 and attends John Paul II High School in Greymouth.