What I Thought:
As soon as I heard about Rough Magic I knew I wanted to read it. It is written by Lara Prior-Palmer who won the Mongolian Derby in 2013, aged 19 – the youngest ever winner of this 1000km horseback race across the Steppe. My favourite book of all time is Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong, also set in Mongolia, which won the first Man Asian Prize in 2003 and I have never met a SINGLE OTHER PERSON who has read it!
Lara’s style is lyrical and quirky and I had the impression of her in my head as being slightly eccentric. In fact, she does admit that she has been called “away with the fairies” and even “space cadet” by people who have known her. After reading the book I watched some YouTube video’s with her in it, including a fantastic TED Talk she did, and I found her engaging, funny and delightfully, Englishly eccentric which I found so endearing.
The book charts Lara’s journey (from her rash decision to take part) through to her nonchalant and slightly unprepared start and on to her determination to beat the Texan Devan Horn who Lara decided she had to overtake purely because she didn’t want Devan to win.
A lot of what Lara feels resonates with me: her desire to not be tied down, to be wild and free, much like a Mongolian pony. I have the same restless spirit but mine is tied down by middle-age, a mortgage and a corporate job, only managing to come out occasionally when I take off on a solo 120-mile hike or wonder off the beaten track in a Chinese village. Other than that, I like to live vicariously through books like this that take me to another place and on an adventure.
A great read, and one which I read in a greedy gulp after I was kindly sent a copy by Ebury Press for my honest review. Highly recommended for people who like real-life, adventure, off-the-beaten-track reads.