by Cynthia D’Errico
Set in the province of Québec, Ground Manners follows the fortunes of a horse refuge run by a gifted animal communicator, Skye Spahro, and her daughter, Belle. A year after the Québec Ice Storm of 1998, Skye relocates the refuge, known as The Institute of Nature Communications, to a tiny island just outside the city of Montréal, unaware that intrigue and treachery lay in wait for her and her horses. When a powerful businessman, John Rash, discovers that a former mare of his with a rare breeding gene is living at the refuge, he connives to get her back. Rash enlists the services of his shady assistant, Matteo Volpone, to kidnap the mare. As Volpone’s search for the mare falls apart, the frustrated henchman decides to stalk Skye. As his madness escalates and the horses and a young woman try desperately to save Skye, Mother Earth, in all her wisdom, makes a devastating move.
Ground Manners takes Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty up a notch and depicts the fate of horses in the 21st century. If you were moved by Sewell’s classic, and enjoyed the subtle ironies in Babe and Charlotte’s Web, you will find Ground Manners an engaging read, right up to its thrilling ending. Threaded throughout the novel is the history of a very special breed, le Canadien, Canada’s National Horse, as well as Québec’s pioneering efforts to preserve le Canadien as its heritage breed.