Lady Joe


Fiction - Humor/Comedy
136 Pages
Reviewed on 09/29/2015
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Author Biography

Mark Saha grew up in cotton country along the Texas Gulf Coast, earned a BA at the University of Notre Dame, and attended film school at UCLA, where a collection of his short stories won a Samuel Goldwyn Creative Writing Award. That resulted in offers from Hollywood agencies and led to many years of writing scripts for film and television. He lives in Santa Monica, California.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

Lady Joe by Mark Saha is a humorous tale of a desperate man. When Lee Estes loses a prized blue roan named Lady Joe, he had no idea what amount of trouble he will be in. The buyer for Lady Joe wants his horse in a perfect condition to show it off to his peers. When the buyer demands his horse, Lee has to find a substandard horse to pose as Lady Joe. All was well until the buyer wanted Lee to enter the fake Lady Joe in a competition. Now Lee has to find a quality blue roan for the competition or else he may lose everything he has worked for. Lucky for him, his old flame and his friend's wife has a horse that can be used. But for that, he would need his old friend's help. What happens next is a mixture of humor, desperation and a whole lot of fun for the reader.

The novel gave me some mixed feelings, but in a good way. Mark Saha’s writing reminded me of Mark Twain; it is actually ironic how they share the same first names. The story itself was written beautifully. I loved the fact that Lee did not try to give any explanation, he just went on his way to make the situation better. I also liked the way Saha portrayed his characters. They were cool, well developed and fitting their descriptions. The way he wrote his dialogues was also very refreshing. If you told me to tell who said what, I could tell that because every character had a distinct way of speaking. All in all, a complete novel that makes you laugh out loud.

Jack Magnus

Lady Joe is a contemporary humorous fiction novel written by Mark Saha. Lee Estes is in trouble again, and he’s counting on his childhood friend, Jim Harrison, to help him out of it. Lee’s been working on the Walker ranch and has actually made something of himself. He’s been put in charge of the place while Mr. Walker is away in Europe, but a careless moment spent exercising one of Walker’s horses could mean losing his job and disappointing his dad. Lady Joe bolted when she saw a deer, and Lee has been unable to find her. When an attorney offered Walker a huge sum of money for her, Lee had to come up with a replacement horse. He actually found one on Craigslist, a blue roan mare named Spooks, but she wasn’t a trained cutting horse like Lady Joe. Francine, Jim’s wife, did have a trained cutting horse named Mary Jane, who could stand in for the missing Lady Joe. Once the attorney was sold on her performance, Spooks would be led out, and Mary Jane would safely be returned to Francine. Jim hated having to ask his wife for this, and, for Francine’s part, she started thinking even more seriously about getting a divorce...

Mark Saha’s contemporary humor novel, Lady Joe, follows two friends as they attempt to pull off an impossible stunt; one out of sheer desperation and the other out of loyalty to a long-term pal. I loved the Mid-Coast California setting for the story and found myself watching YouTube videos of cow cutting to see exactly what Jim and Lee were up to. Horses who are gifted cow cutters seem to have well-developed senses of humor and play and show delight as they nimbly dodge and feint with the cows they’ve cut from the herd. Watching the videos made Lady Joe’s story really come alive for me. I could visualize the competitions and empathize with the two unlikely champions as they travel the circuit. Lady Joe is a heartwarming novel that is a joy to read. Saha’s writing is as down to earth as his two lead characters, and his plot is inspired. Lady Joe is highly recommended.

Paul Johnson

Lee Estes and Jim Harrison have been best friends since high school. They both dated the same girl and one ended up marrying her. Lee and Jim have been in and out of trouble a few times. And trouble may be coming again. Their problems start when Lee somehow manages to lose a prize-winning cutting horse scheduled to be purchased by a wealthy lawyer. The buyer only wants Lady Joe as a trophy horse to impress guests and clients. Learning that the buyer is not horse savvy, Lee buys a cheap no-talent blue roan as a replacement. But, the buyer wants to see the horse work. Lee’s only chance is to borrow the horse belonging to Jim’s wife, Francine. Jim’s marriage hasn’t been going too well and he sees in Lee’s hustle an opportunity to save his marriage. It all comes down to this: can the two guys fool the prospective buyer and can Jim revive his marriage?

First of all, humor fiction is not my fondest genre mainly because humor is very subjective. However, I did find some comedy in the situations and misadventures the two buddies got themselves into. The characterizations were excellent, particularly the two bumbling cronies. The dialogue was very good as well. While not overly complex, the plotting was well developed and the story line was enjoyable. This is a rather short book. I think it could be marketed as young adult fiction but all readers would enjoy it. Overall, it was a pleasant, easy read.