Monday, February 27, 2012


By Cynthia D’Errico
Soft Cover, 2011, $19.99
Hard Cover, 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 978-1-4568-2394-8

Available at: or on Amazon

                               Reviewed by Carol M. Upton

Learning that horses were butchered for meat left many people feeling raw and lied to, like suddenly finding out that your neighbour had barbecued your retriever or microwaved your cat. Like so many others, Yanne was clearly unaware that, whether for meat or other reasons, horses were slaughtered at all. ~ Part Three, Chapter Four, p. 116

GROUND MANNERS: A Novel is an innovative synthesis of adventure, romance and animal advocacy. Cynthia D’Errico has produced a compelling tale based on true stories about Canada’s horse slaughter industry, the dangers of continuing to ignore coastline erosion, and which features an especially intriguing thread on how le Canadien became both Quebec’s heritage breed and the National Horse of Canada.

Through the thoughts of Ausencia, a slaughter-bound polo horse, the opening pages introduce us to the horse refuge run by animal communicator Skye Spahro and her daughter on Isle-Saint-Jean- Baptiste. The Institute of Nature Communications, like many horse rescues across the country, is dedicated to the care and rehoming of abused horses, including the rescue of those slated for slaughter.

The horses narrate a good part of the story as D’Errico performs skillful shifts from the human to the animal point of view. These shifts are reminiscent of those in other classics like Babe and Black Beauty, with that same brilliant seamlessness that keeps the reader fully engaged. The character of each horse is carefully delineated so that when Ulric, the eternally calm Belgian draft says: “I don’t like the look of things, Tessa,” his ominous tone ushers the reader into the darkness of the book’s last half.

The themes in this book require the reader to confront the moral dilemmas often present in horse ownership and attempt to expand the reader’s vision of horses. Yet the darkness is never overdone.

The storyline is simultaneously about love, heroes and hope for lasting change in our treatment of animals and the planet – indeed of the very ground we walk on. D’Errico’s writing style intimately involves readers in the lives of her characters, human and animal, in such a way that their world becomes difficult to leave as the book nears its gripping finale.

GROUND MANNERS is the tale that horse lovers have waited for, but also essential reading for anyone intent on creating a more harmonious relationship with our planet. It will definitely raise public consciousness and is sure to spark debate.

Cynthia give a big kiss
to Fern Rigg's Ladies Man
of Canoe, British Columbia
 A former ESL teacher and business editor, Cynthia has always felt a special empathy toward horses with whom she was raised. She continues to promote animals' rights to live in whatever is left of their natural environments free of cruelty and neglect. Visit Cynthia at or on her Blog at:

Thanks to Carol for sharing her review.

Readers, I hope you noticed that winter's snow-covered tree has been replaced by spring's redbud tree photo in the header. Our redbud is beginning to bud out, and soon we'll have lovely dark pink blooms again. Cab spring be far away?

Thanks for stopping by!


Cynthia D'Errico said...

Thank you for posting the review of my book, Ground Manners. A Novel. But "Sean", the palomino in the picture is not a rescue. He has a good and loving owner in Western Canada, and I was just lucky to get to spend some time with him. Cynthia D'Errico

Deb said...

You have used a copyrighted photo that I took for Cynthia D'Errico this past July. She was out in BC for a book signing and was invited to my farm for a photo shoot. The 4 yr old gelding in the photo "Fern Rigg's Ladies Man" is a double registered Part Welsh and Part Morgan palomino and is bred and owned by Fern Rigg Farm in Canoe, BC. He was at my farm for training. He is NOT a rescue horse and never was. Deb Harper

Unknown said...

This sounds like a deep novel, one i will be looking for. The local library doesn't have it, will have to look in Grande Prairie library this summer! Thanks for the interview - know about this topic, but have a hard time dealing with it.

Unknown said...

noticed the change in color - spring must be there!