The author, Clover Stroud, uses her expertise as a writer and journalist to bring her dark and turbulent past into vivid technicolour. Stroud was 16 years old when all that she knew changed in a moment. Her idyllic way of life was shattered, following a riding accident that left her mother permanently brain-damaged. Stroud’s memories of the trauma she experienced, being left with only the shadow of the woman she knew and loved, are delivered with brutal honesty.

The book opens with a heart wrenching account of Stroud’s crippling post-natal depression, to the point at which she contemplates harming her child and taking her own life. Moving on from there, Stroud takes the reader on a journey back many years to examine the trauma her mother’s accident had upon herself and her sibling. This sets the scene for much of the story, illustrating how that one tragic day shaped Stroud, driving her to take risks whilst she sought comfort from fear, danger and the wilderness. This desire and pursuit of danger is depicted in vivid detail by the choices she makes; residing in a traveller community in Ireland, working on a ranch in west Texas and recklessly galloping through mountains in Russia.

Curiously, despite Stroud’s life having been turned upside down by a riding accident, she never turns her back on horses. They remain a constant in her life and it becomes evident that the fear and danger that horses present, provides her with comfort, control and freedom.

These memoirs take us on an emotional journey, from the darkness and despair post-natal depression, loss and grief bring, through to an understanding of a woman who has come to terms with her wild, alternative self, who lets her experiences shape but not define her.

This book isn’t a light or easy read, but is insightful and powerful as it documents a family’s experiences as they rise from the pit of despair and learn to build a ‘new normal’ for themselves.

by Jo Lofthouse, a Senior Associate at Raworths specialising in family law.

Clover Stroud is appearing at Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival on Saturday 21st October at 2pm. Find out more and book now.