Soldier of the Horse, by Robert W. Mackay, (robertwmackay.com) published by Touchwood, 2011 (www.touchwoodeditions.com) is an extraordinary historical war and romance novel about Tom, a young lawyer who joins the Canadian Expeditionary Force as a calvaryman. The story begins in Winnipeg 1914 and ends there after the war. Ellen, daughter of a lawyer, meets Tom before the war. Tom is not a crusading hero by any means, rather a truly believable soldier who does his duty well but mostly wants to get through the trenches, the artillery, the machine guns, keeping his loved horse and self in one piece.. The characters came alive in Winnipeg but the novel gathered steam with the troops crossing the Atlantic. Once in France the action exploded. I couldn't put the book down. By Moreuil Wood I was right there with Tom and his comrades, their horses, and the Germans and their machine guns. By the end of the book I was crying. It was that engaging.
Such a truly wonderful story, so well told, I was in tears with the men but mostly with Tom. I don't want to be a spoiler. I don't want to share the letters from home that choked. I don't want to describe each emotionally moving detail. But I do. I'd love to share how it turns out. I'd love to tell you this story, but it would be far better if you bought the book and read it as I have , through tears. I'd love you to see Ellen through Tom's eyes. I'd love you to feel her struggle and Tom's so far apart.
I'd also love to know how Robert MacKay learned the true story that was the basis of the book from his father. For now I'm just thankful to have read a piece of Canadian history, proud to know men like Tom in my life, my father a veteran of WWII, and thankful that Robert cared enough to share. This is a truly brilliant novel that every Canadian should read at least once if only to remember.