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Mary Finn lives in Dublin, where she worked for some years as a magazine journalist for Radio Telefís Eireann, the Irish broadcasting service. She now works as a parliamentary reporter for the Oireachtas, the Irish Houses of Parliament. She writes historical novels: her Anila’s Journey is set in colonial India, and won the Eilis Dillon Award. Her horse story, The Horse Girl (USA: Belladonna), explores 18th century Lincolnshire, and what went on when the artist George Stubbs was researching equine anatomy for his The Anatomy of the Horse (1766).


I found this a book of two halves: when the book is dealing with hero Thomas, his family background, and his relationship with Stubbs, it is fascinating. Mary Finn has the knack of making the reader believe in every detail of the historical period she’s talking about. The girl Ling, whom Thomas ends up following around the country, made less impact on me. Nonetheless, for anyone remotely keen on Stubbs, this book is well worth reading.


Finding the book:  still in print


Links and sources

Biographical information, The Horse Girl


Mary Finn

Bibliography - horse books only

The Horse Girl

Walker Books, London, 2011, 390 pp.

Published in the US as Belladonna

Candlewick, 2011, 384 pp.

Read my review

The Horse Girl  is set in 18th century Lincolnshire, and is the story of wheelwright's son, Thomas,
the girl Ling, and Stubbs. Thomas meets Ling, desperate to find a horse she knows Stubbs has
bought, and which she thinks he will butcher in order to study its anatomy. They discover that
Stubbs is not the brute they had imagined, and Stubbs looks set to become part of Thomas' future,
employing him as an apprentice. Ling, however, is set on finding her horse, Belladonna.

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