Borrowed Horses

This week’s other featured books, “The Sheep Walker’s Daughter,” by Sydney Avey and “Willingly,” by Marc Frazier, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

THE BOOK: Borrowed Horses.

PUBLISHED IN: Fall 2013.

THE AUTHOR: Siân Griffiths.

THE EDITOR: Suzzanne Kelley.

THE PUBLISHER: New Rivers Press.

SUMMARY: When her mother’s MS takes a turn for the worse, aspiring Olympian Joannie Edson moves back to Idaho with her aging horse to be closer to home and family. She has given up everything (career, romance) to pursue her goal of riding for the US Equestrian Team, but now, with no horse to ride and no money to buy or support a young prospect, she finds herself faced with a choice: should she take a chance on a relationship with the attractive stranger pursuing her, or invest her time in training her coach’s abused and violent mare? As she explores each option, Joannie finds that a fully lived life is much like the jumping courses she’s always ridden, every path bearing obstacles that she will have to clear to find her way forward.

Sian GriffithsTHE BACK STORY: This novel grew out of longing. My own horse was aging and dying, and I was a long way from home. The only way I had to recreate the things I loved was to write, and so this became my dissertation project for my graduate work in creative writing.

WHY THIS TITLE?: My grandmother used to say, “If wishes were horses, beggar’s would ride,” which was me and my character in a nutshell. I was rich in wishes. I loved the cadence of that expression, but Beggar’s Horses didn’t quite work for the book I had in mind. I started riffing on it and listing adjacent expressions. Borrowed Horses rang true for the book. Though there is only one literal horse Joannie borrows, I liked its metaphorical implications and the way horses could become wishes. I borrowed the framework of the plot from Jane Eyre (though the characters and genders are inverted–Joannie’s follows Edward Rochester’s), so that was another “borrowed horse.”

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: It’s a story about a woman who feels cornered and who works her way out. It’s about a flawed character finding the strength and courage to go forward and pursue her passions. It’s about love–for people, for places, and for animals–and it’s about how that love can redeem us when we’re self destructing. I wanted to write a complex, beautiful, language-driven book that was a page-turner, and I hope that’s what people find.


“This work by Sian B. Griffiths qualifies as a minor masterpiece of the novelist’s art. Complex and memorable characters, minute attention to background details, an imaginative storyline, and a master of dialogue, ‘Borrowed Horses’ is a consistently entertaining read.”  — Small Press Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review

“Griffiths’ great accomplishment in dealing with the men in Joannie’s life is that she manages to be sympathetic to both Joannie’s physical desires (many of which are described in sensual detail) and her almost feminist nature. What Joannie discovers through much trial and error is that balance can only be found in the middle. In this way, and in many others, life is like riding a horse.” — Peter Geye, Minnesota StarTribune

“What really captured me was the beauty of the writing. […Borrowed Horses is] keen yet accessible.” — Sharon Browning, LitStack

“A remarkable debut, tough-minded and feisty as the prodigal daughter at its heart. Borrowed Horses explores with precise attention a corner of our country–the rolling Palouse of northern Idaho–rarely portrayed in fiction, and, along the way, translates equestrianism into a kind of beautiful metaphysics.”  — Lance Olsen, Calendar of Regrets

“Siân Griffiths puts Idaho on the map. Her writing is as tough and lovely as a flower blooming in gravel.” — Amina Gautier, At-Risk, Winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award

“I’ve never ridden a horse, but after reading this book, I feel like I know what it means to meet a fence and jump–that moment of flight. Griffiths etches her characters, their rituals and desires, with startling devotion. There is more than one love story in this novel, and each one pulls hard. Friendship and grit ride alongside both misplaced and slow-burning passions through a distinctly Western emotional landscape. Joannie Edson is both a woman I admire and want to throttle: this is what recommends her. We are all haunted–Borrowed Horses shows one woman learning to weather the ghosts and jump again.” — Kirsten Kaschock, Unfathoms and Sleight.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Siân Griffiths lives in Ogden, Utah, where she teaches creative writing at Weber State University. Her work has appeared in The Georgia ReviewPrairie Schooner, Cincinnati ReviewAmerican Short Fiction (online), Indiana Review, and The Rumpus, among other publications. Borrowed Horses (New Rivers Press) was a semi-finalist for the 2014 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. Currently, she reads fiction as part of the editorial team at Barrelhouse. For more information, please visit

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I’m happy always happy to Skype into book clubs when I can make the timing work. If you contact me through my website, we can see what we can arrange:

 If you enjoy this book, I have two more coming this year.

My novel Scrapple will be out from Braddock Ave Books. It tells the story of fifteen-year-old Robert Flannigan, whose family moves to Philadelphia to be near his older brother Sean and Sean’s newborn twins. The family arrives to find the babies abandoned in a crib with no word of explanation from Sean or his wife. The book follows Robert as he tries to find his brother in this strange city. You can read the first chapter here:

Additionally, Bull City Press will publish my chapbook, The Heart, Like the Drum, Keeps Faulty Time. This short fiction collection plays with and puts a feminist spin on popular genres (sci fi, historical fiction, super hero, romance). I think it’s a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to share it with readers.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: You can read the first pages on Amazon:

LOCAL OUTLETS: Booked on 25th, Ogden, Utah


Barnes and Noble

New Rivers Press

PRICE: $15.95


Published by


Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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