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Mr B's review
On a whim, staggeringly underprepared for the epic challenge ahead, teenager Lara entered the Mongol Derby, the world’s toughest horse race, and became its first ever female winner. This hugely entertaining and often poetic account of her journey takes us across the rugged Mongolian steppe aboard 25 semi-wild ponies. With very British wit and lyrical prose she philosophises on the competitive spirit, teenage angst and on man’s relationship with horses and the landscape.
WINNER STANFORD TRAVEL WRITING AWARDS 2020
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WILLIAM HILL PRIZE 2019
‘Such an addictive and likeable book…One of this year’s best memoirs’ The Telegraph
‘It’s the resistance to the obvious narratives that makes Rough Magic so appealing: the book undermines lazy women-in-the-wilderness tropes at every turn.’ Sarah Moss, Guardian
‘A heroic tale beautifully told’ TLS
‘Rough Magic is transporting, beguiling and terrifically entertaining’ Daily Mail
The Mongol Derby is the world’s toughest horse race. A feat of endurance across the vast Mongolian plains once traversed by the people of Genghis Khan, competitors ride 25 horses across a distance of 1000km. Many riders don’t make it to the finish line.
In 2013 Lara Prior-Palmer – nineteen, underprepared but seeking the great unknown – decided to enter the race. Driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses, she raced for seven days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families. Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she found she had nothing to lose, and tore through the field with her motley crew of horses. In one of the Derby’s most unexpected results, she became the youngest-ever champion and the first woman to win the race.
A tale of adventure, fortitude and poetry, Rough Magic is the extraordinary story of one young woman’s encounter with oblivion, and herself.
“Think the next Educated or Wild. Palmer’s memoir of beating the odds to become a horse champion is an inspiring saga of perseverance – and a classic underdog tale.” * Entertainment Weekly * “Prior-Palmer’s style is a fascinating mix of pep and poignancy. A really terrific story by a spirited new voice.” * Sara Baume * “[Prior-Palmer’s] gorgeous, sensual depiction of this race is a literary marvel; it feels like you are riding alongside her across the desolate steppes; her verbal acuity makes vivid the most elusive of landscapes; her triumph becomes ours.” * NYLON * “In this sensual, spiritual memoir, Prior-Palmer recounts her grueling journey through immense physical hardship, and her surprising transformation from underdog to champion” * Esquire * “Absolutely riveting.” * Buzzfeed *
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