Horse By Geraldine Brooks Book Club Questions

Horse by Geraldine Brooks: Book Club Questions and Unique Facts

Geraldine Brooks’ novel “Horse” is a captivating historical fiction that delves into the fascinating world of horse breeding and racing in 19th-century Australia. Set against the backdrop of societal norms and gender expectations, this thought-provoking story explores themes of passion, resilience, and the pursuit of dreams. If you’re considering “Horse” for your book club, here are some discussion questions to get the conversation started, along with five unique facts about the book.

Book Club Questions:

1. The protagonist, Ellie, faces numerous challenges as a young woman trying to break into the male-dominated world of horse racing. How does she navigate these obstacles, and what does her journey reveal about gender roles and societal expectations in 19th-century Australia?

2. The relationship between Ellie and her horse, Orchid, is central to the story. How does this bond evolve throughout the book, and what does it symbolize?

3. “Horse” explores the theme of resilience in the face of adversity. Discuss the various characters’ experiences with resilience and how it shapes their lives.

4. The book covers themes of social class and the divide between the wealthy and the working class. How does this divide affect the characters’ lives and aspirations?

5. Geraldine Brooks paints a vivid picture of the Australian landscape and the harsh realities of life during this time period. How does the setting contribute to the overall tone and atmosphere of the story?

6. The novel touches on the ethical questions surrounding horse racing, such as the treatment of horses and the morality of gambling. How does the author navigate these complex issues, and what are your thoughts on them?

7. Discuss the role of family in the book. How do Ellie’s relationships with her parents, siblings, and extended family shape her choices and actions?

8. “Horse” delves into the historical context of horse breeding and racing in Australia. How does the author incorporate historical facts into the narrative, and what effect does this have on the story?

9. The character of James is a pivotal figure in Ellie’s life. How does their relationship evolve, and what does it teach Ellie about love and trust?

10. The book explores the power dynamics between men and women in various relationships. Discuss the different representations of power and control throughout the story.

Unique Facts:

1. “Horse” was inspired by real-life historical events and characters from Australia’s horse racing industry in the 19th century. Geraldine Brooks conducted extensive research to ensure historical accuracy.

2. Orchid, the horse at the center of the story, is based on a real racehorse named Black Caviar, who became a national icon in Australia. Black Caviar retired undefeated after 25 races.

3. The novel sheds light on the little-known practice of horse whispering. This technique, based on understanding and communicating with horses through body language and energy, is explored in the book.

4. Geraldine Brooks has won numerous awards for her works of historical fiction, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel “March.”

5. “Horse” not only explores the world of horse racing but also touches on broader themes such as colonialism, indigenous culture, and the impact of immigration on Australian society.


1. Is “Horse” based on a true story?
No, “Horse” is a work of fiction. However, it is inspired by real historical events and characters.

2. Is the book suitable for all ages?
While there are no explicit or graphic scenes, some themes and content may be more suitable for mature readers.

3. How accurate is the portrayal of 19th-century Australia?
Geraldine Brooks extensively researched the time period to ensure historical accuracy, but some creative liberties have been taken for the sake of storytelling.

4. Are there any trigger warnings in the book?
The book does touch on topics such as animal cruelty and sexism, which some readers may find distressing.

5. What makes “Horse” unique compared to other horse-related novels?
“Horse” combines elements of historical fiction, romance, and social commentary, offering a diverse reading experience.

6. Is prior knowledge of horse racing necessary to enjoy the book?
No, the book provides enough context for readers to understand and appreciate the world of horse racing.

7. How does the author handle sensitive topics like gender inequality?
Geraldine Brooks portrays the struggles and triumphs of female characters with sensitivity and nuance, highlighting the societal injustices they face.

8. Does the book have a happy ending?
Without giving away spoilers, the book’s ending offers a mix of hope and bittersweetness.

9. Does the book provide insights into Australian culture and history?
Yes, “Horse” provides a glimpse into Australian society during the 19th century, exploring themes of immigration, indigenous culture, and social class.

10. Are there any sequels or companion novels to “Horse”?
No, “Horse” is a standalone novel.

11. Is the book more focused on the human characters or the horses?
While the story revolves around the experiences of the human characters, the horses play a significant role in shaping their lives and dreams.

12. Are there any romantic elements in “Horse”?
Yes, the book includes romantic relationships that contribute to the character development and overall plot.

13. Can the book be enjoyed by non-horse enthusiasts?
Absolutely! While “Horse” does delve into the world of horse racing, it ultimately explores universal themes of passion, resilience, and the pursuit of dreams that can resonate with any reader.