Book Reviews

 Steve’s Band (Duality, 2011)

‘….a deeply beautiful book full of warmth for the everyday experience of musicians in a small town. The combination       of down to earth characters and inspired expressionist prose is truly wonderful. There are passages of tone writing on music that surpass the most lauded works on the theme. Elaine Walker’s honest, compassionate approach to her subject captures the craft, starry aspirations and genuine love of humanity that beats at the heart of rock and roll bands everywhere.’

Martin Daws


The Horses (Cinnamon Press, 2010)

‘…a tale of many parts. It is a post-apocalyptic story, a teenage coming of age story, a book for aficionados of magic realism and lovers of horses and a story of environmental disaster and recovery. It is also a text that subverts the dominant discourse of global economics, political disenfranchisement and bureaucratic domination.  Despite this apparent complexity The Horses is neither dark nor difficult and, unlike similar stories such as the deeply pessimistic Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, this is a story of hope. Walker clearly knows not only her subject matter but also the stuff of writing with The Horses exhibiting a true storyteller’s sensibility. Reading this novel is like eating a really enjoyable meal.’

Sandra Burr –  Text: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses

‘As a 14 year old boy in a classroom on the west coast of Scotland, my passion for literature was initially sparked by the ‘strange’ beasts who appear after a Holocaust in Edwin Muir’s anxious poem of the atomic age, ‘The Horses’. So I have been more than intrigued by their afterlife in Elaine Walker’s novel of that name, published in 2010.  The book is a compelling hybrid of realistic family drama and ecological fable about a dystopian future, set on a remote Scottish croft. In it, a group of horses– simultaneously mythical and very real–and the companionship they offer, act as a test of human capacity for empathy with others. More than this, they offer the inspiration to readers first to  imagine and then to live a life that is more ecologically and socially sustainable.  The novel is narrated through the powerfully realised voice of Jo, a teenager who faces personal tragedy and fear, developing a personality that is mature beyond his years. It is a compelling stylistic choice, because it allows Walker very authentically to balance earnestness and social conscience with emotional unguardedness to create the book’s overarching tonal flavour. It is these facets of character that are learned best, perhaps, by living with and caring for animals; and if they are too often and quickly undermined in contemporary fiction, Walker celebrates them in this uplifting and open-hearted novel.’

Robert McKay  – University of Sheffield


Horse (Reaktion Books, 2008)

‘…fascinating in its finely crafted perceptions which capture what many of us feel about horses but are not, perhaps, able to express so well as Elaine Walker. This is an objective, beautifully written book….one for both the serious researcher and the simple enthusiast.

Graham Suggett – First Pasture – Land and Country Books

‘…This is a wonderful book, and every equine student should own a copy! It provides a clear, concise and comprehensive overview of the human-horse relationship, and is written in an engaging and accessible style…’

Samantha Hurn – National Equine Student Journal of Equine Studies

‘…This book is warm, engaging and personal, which makes it immensely readable. Yet Walker has packed the pages with a concise presentation of equine history and opened the door on topics long overdue for investigation. Whether it be traditional history …or one of her keen cultural observations, Walker can be counted on to educate and entertain effortlessly.. . the appearance of a meticulous scholar like Walker is a boon for equestrian research and her beautifully illustrated book is an addictive read…”

CuChullaine O’Reilly – The Long Riders’ Guild


‘To Amaze the People with Pleasure and Delight’: the horsemanship manuals of William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle (Long Riders’ Guild Press, 2010)

I am an International Dressage Trainer and Historical Equestrian Performer.  I have produced many authentic performances as The Duke of Newcastle on my Spanish Stallion.

I was fascinated by Elaine Walker’s book. It clarified many points of interest about the man and his work. It was not only of great use as reference material but is essential reading for anyone who feels that dressage today comes from these great riding masters of the past.

Peter Maddison-Greenwell Director of El Caballo de España and author of Living and Working with the Horse of Spain

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