A woman, an accomplished rider, 28 weeks pregnant, gets up onto a steady horse just to have a quick photo taken. Here is an excerpt from the Prologue of Little Green.
“Kirsten held the reins while Elise stepped up onto the mounting block and, with some difficulty balancing, swung her leg over the saddle.
The little grey dog came out of nowhere.”
Author Tish Cohen does not waste any words describing what happened next. We all know what happened next. The book then moves to the present day. Here are the characters around which the book revolves.
Elise Sorenson is an international level dressage competitor whose life dream has been to compete in the Olympics. She has the horse capable of it. She has spent the winter away from her husband and daughter to compete in Florida. Her scores were up and down. She decides to compete in Tryon NC at the end of the Florida season. When she arrives back to her family they all head to Lake Placid where her husband has to prepare the family cabin for sale. The cost of Elise’s training, horse competition, transport etc etc has drained finances. They will spend time at the cabin.It was supposed to be “quality” “family” time together.
Matt Sorensen is essentially a single parent to his daughter while Elise is away for months competing with her horse. He is supportive but family finances have been drained down to nil and he must put up the cabin, that has been in his family for generations, up for sale to raise funds so Elise can continue. Matt is a lawyer and just before the trip to Lake Placid, he is offered a partnership in the law firm he works for. At age fifty this has been his ambition for many years. But…..and it is a big but….with the hours and late nights required of a partner in the law firm he cannot be a single parent to his daughter.
Gracie, eight year old daughter of Matt and Elise, who has the nickname of “Little Green”. She is physically disabled as a result of premature birth (remember that little grey dog?) Gracie is an engaging little girl ,with some of the usual childhood fears, such as bears in the dark woods and she is devoted to her various stuffed animals that she protects and cares for. Her mother, Elise, thinks that her father Matt calls her Little Green because she has a little froggy voice. However, in the time spent in Lake Placid, it turns out Matt calls her Little Green after the song Joni Mitchell wrote about the daughter she gave up for adoption.
Just a little green
Like the color when the spring is born
To have a child , eight years of age, and to have the mother not know why her husband calls her daughter by a certain nickname is, to say the least, odd!
When the family arrives in Lake Placid it quickly becomes clear that ghosts from Matt’s past are lurking and there are skeletons in every closet. To top it all off Elise cannot fit in as easily as she might have expected to the family unit. Matt and Gracie have developed their own system and connection and Elise is just not part of it. Then there is the voluptuous woman next door who is very friendly, has a son similar age to Gracie and ….is Matt’s childhood sweetheart! All of this leads to more than just the odd squabble. The tension is not relieved by the fact that Elise gets word that she is now on the US Dressage team for the Pan American Games in Toronto. Someone else had to drop out and Elise, who had been the reserve, is now in. This is the perfect line up to be heading for the Olympics in Rio. Dreams are coming true. But…. it means she would only be able to stay a few days in Lake Placid before going to Toronto.
Then it happens. Gracie has been enrolled in a day camp and is picked up by a bus each morning. Elise waits with Gracie at the roadside. Then Elise has to run back to the cabin to get something. She is gone just for a few minutes. Just a few minutes. When she returns Gracie has gone. It is not until the afternoon when the camp bus returns it is discovered that the bus did not pick up Gracie that morning. Someone else did.
Little Green has been kidnapped. Little Green is gone.
The book now goes from the pleasant pace of a dressage test to a full on Grand National Steeplechase. I knew now that I could not read this book in bed if I wanted to get to sleep before the end.
Little Green is an excellent summer read. Well written, with the characters well filled out, so you care about what happens to them. This is not just a book for horse riders it is a book for every person who has ever been in a relationship, and every person who is a parent.