All the Shah’s Horses, by Gail Thompson
The book’s title was immediately arresting. As I began to read, I felt immediately engrossed in this book, and I’m sure many people have felt the same because of the likable, sensible, and skilled narrator; the presence of horses; the personal drama, especially between the narrator and Kambis; and the backdrop of history. My knowledge—if I’m correct—of what was about to happen, with the overthrow of the Shah, added pathos to the story.
I know little about horses but certainly enjoyed the stories relating to the various horses, such as the one about how the Shah’s horse had a tendency to become aroused in a way that was embarrassing to spectators, and how the writer held one of the Irish horses as a back-up in case this happened at an important time. The story of the death, later, of this horse, was very moving.
About a third of the way through the book, the writer skillfully acknowledges a question relating to Kambis that did come up in my mind: “It would make a great story if I said that the beginning of our affair started then.” The writer goes on to say that she and Kambis were never more than good friends, and I do believe this. However, I wish I had more of an understanding of Kambis’ sometimes odd behavior, such as the times when he writes her frequent critical notes relating to very minor details, such as not turning off the lights in a timely way.
Gail Rose Thompson's books are collections of stories of her time during a wonderful and exciting few years in the beautiful country of Iran, filled with kind, gregarious, fun-loving and intelligent people, as well as beautiful horses.