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  Library Journal Review

At home with horses, Tennessean Robert Johnson tames a legendary stallion he calls The Stud, and in 1825, after building himself a cabin on 40 acres, he is ready to realize his dream of starting a horse farm. But when he falls in love with Jo Benson, whose family has a history of contention with the Johnsons, Robert finds himself framed for murder. He and his Tennessee Stud hit the road. Running from a bounty hunter and feeling like a desperado, he makes his way westward down to Mexico, meeting both friends and foes, all colorfully depicted. At one point The Stud is stolen by Indians, along with most of Robert's clothing. Despite hardship and hunger, Robert is full of hope and longing. He must find a way to clear his name and get back to his sweet Jo. In Averill's hands, both man and horse are heroic. VERDICT Based on the American folk ballad "Tennessee Stud," this novel by the author of Secrets of the Tsil Cafe is an artistic masterpiece galloping with classic all-American appeal.-Keddy Ann Outlaw, formerly with Harris County P.L., Houston, TX (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
<p>When Thomas Fox Averill first heard Jimmy Driftwood's ballad "Tennessee Stud," he found the song hauntingly compelling. As he began to imagine the story behind the lyrics, he set out to research the song's history--a tale from "along about eighteen and twenty-five" of the legendary exploits of the greatest horse that ever lived, the "Tennessee Stud," and his owner.</p> <p>Traveling the same route the song chronicles, from Tennessee into Arkansas, through Texas and into Mexico, Averill visited racetracks, Spanish missions, historical museums, a living history farm, and national parks, inventing characters of his own along the way. His novel captures the spirit of the ballad while telling the story of Robert Johnson, a man who holds love in his heart though adventure rules his time. Pursued by a bounty hunter, Indians, and his conscience, Johnson and his horse are tested, strengthened, and made resolute.</p> <br> <p>?Both an odyssey and a great love story, rode is made compelling by its thoughtful hero and the surprising woman he longs for. Precise language and authentic detail render a vivid sense of another time, and Averill's Southern landscape, so beautifully drawn, is peopled with unforgettable men and women.' ?Laura Moriarty, author of The Center of Everything.</p> <br> <p>?No one drives a narrative better than Thomas Fox Averill, and this novel version of a grand American tale shows Tom Averill's skills at their best. rode performs not only through action but the perfect articulation of 19th Century Arkansas and Tennessee. Averill knows the lingo, blunt, uncompromising, and accurate, from saddle trees to foals, and even to a dauncy mare, a wonderful allusion to the author's Scottish heritage and ours. This is complicated evocation of character, yes, in Robert Johnson, Jo Benson, and others; but even more, Thomas Averill's narrative rides evocative language like a great stud horse.'?Robert Stewart, author of Outside Language: Essays , editor, New Letters magazine </p>
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