Book Review: Stable Relation by Anna Blake


I adored the beginning chapters of Stable Relation, by Anna Blake. Anna was a country girl who became a successful city girl as a goldsmith with her own gallery spaces. When her life in the city goes sideways, the country girl reemerges. Anna buys a run-down horse farm in Colorado and begins building a menagerie. These early chapters are filled with comic relief and wry, self-deprecating humor. The blend of drama and comedy was highly entertaining.

Somewhere close to the middle of Stable Relation, the tenor changes, and the stories become unrelentingly dark and deeply philosophical. I can appreciate those stories as well as the earlier ones, but the author never finds her comic voice again, and I missed it.

After Anna Blake moves to the farm with her horses and dog, she finds that there’s still room in her heart and her household for more animals, more species of animals. Over the years, she acquires cats, ducks, llamas, a donkey, a burro, and goats, and makes friends with wild ducks and geese courtesy of the pond on her property. Most chapters feature one animal, and is the story of Anna’s work to befriend all the animals on their levels, rather than request that they meet her on her level. She shows extraordinary patience and understanding. None of her animals are mere livestock — they are all family, playing out their own roles in the Blake family dynamic.

Anna has always had a level of discomfort in the human world. Adults who were neglected or abused as children never learn the socialization skills necessary to blend. Some of the chapters in the book refer back to her birth family and its tense and unhappy balancing act. Readers will see the the confusion of Anna reflected against her human family, and the grace of Anna reflected against her small, animal kingdom.

Stable Relation: A Memoir of One Woman's Spirited Journey Home, by Way of the Barn










Amazon US link to Stable Relation

One thought on “Book Review: Stable Relation by Anna Blake (4 coffee beans)

  1. Elisabeth Parker

    I think many “cat ladies” and people who have many, many dogs are survivors of toxic relationships in childhood and young adulthood. The unconditional love of dogs and the relatively undemanding love of most animals, who ask for very little, is such a relief after the conditional love of “impossible to please” family and significant others. They love you the way you are……and,sadly, some children grow up learning that who they are is inadequate. Glad to see an author address this way of coping.

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