The Mare

  • by Mary Gaitskill
  • Narrated by Kyla Garcia, Christa Lewis, Sean Pratt, Nicol Zanzarella
  • 14 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the author of Veronica, a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction, comes Mary Gaitskill's most poignant and powerful work yet: the story of a Dominican girl, the white woman who introduces her to riding, and the horse who changes everything for her.
Velveteen Vargas is an 11-year-old from Brooklyn who is granted a summer vacation in the country, courtesy of the nonprofit Fresh Air Fund. Her host family is a couple in upstate New York: Ginger, a failed artist on the fringe of Alcoholics Anonymous; and Paul, an academic who wonders what it will mean to "make a difference" in such a contrived situation. Here we see the couple's changing relationship with Velvet over the course of several years as well as Velvet's powerful encounter with the horses at the stable down the road, as Gaitskill weaves together Velvet's vital inner-city community and the privileged country world of Ginger and Paul.
The timeless story of a girl and a horse is joined with the story of people from different races and socioeconomic backgrounds trying to meet one another honestly. It is a novel that is raw, striking, and completely original.


What the Critics Say

"Four excellent narrators tell Velvet's story through various points of view in alternating chapters. Each narrator perfectly defines the complexities of the character being portrayed, while showing different sides of Velvet - often not flattering." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Give These Characters a Swift Punch in the Face!

Any additional comments?

As someone who loved horse stories of all varieties as a kid, I was eager to listen to this retelling of "National Velvet." But the novel is a misstep. All of the characters were unpalatable, perhaps most so the heroine, Velvet, who is an unqualified brat.

That said, the book has its moments, and its narrators went above and beyond. They gave the book life, even if the author did not. The woman who read Ginger should get an award.

But unless you want to spend hours with your hands balled into fists, wishing you could punch characters who are infuriatingly obtuse, unthankful, or downright crazy, I'd suggest you stay away from this book.

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- Janet


This novel is about a "fresh air" 12 year old city girl, Velvet, who spends two weeks in the country with Ginger and her husband. She falls in love with the horses at the nearby stables. It is a first person narrative, with different narrators each chapter. The start of the novel was very good, but each hour I listened made me less interested. Halfway through (8 hours into this), I just stopped caring and quit. For one thing, very little happened. A slow moving story can be good, but only if the characters are great. I liked the girl, Velvet (good character and great narrator), but none of the adults really came alive to me. Ginger, the main adult, just became less and less believable and less interesting. If it were not such a long book, I might have stayed with it. I also wanted more with the horses.
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- Mark "MTF"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-03-2015
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.