Seven and a Half Minutes - Reviews
My addiction to everything that Roxana Valea writes continues unabated and I’m honoured to be kicking off the blog tour for the third book in her loosely-autobiographical polo adventures. I’ve recommended these to every horse obsessed YA/ grown-up reader I know, but you don’t have to be horse-mad, or know the faintest thing about polo to enjoy them. It’s a cracking rom-com too.
As with the others, you could read it as a stand-alone, but the characters will make more sense if you’ve read the others (or at least the first one) as it starts straight into a scene. But, it’s actually a prequel, so if you want to read it first, totally go for it!
This book answers the big question I’d been pondering – how do people discover polo? (Assuming you’ve not been born into a polo-playing family, that is). She has a regular office job and a classic city lifestyle, and hasn’t ridden since she was a kid. How do you go from that to travelling across the world to play polo. It turns out the answer is by a chance encounter. Even if you’re not “horsey” take a chance on this series, and let me know what you think.
Roxy is looking for love, like everyone else. In London she reconnects with a passion she long lost, horses.
Suddenly she finds herself learning to play polo, and most important of all, she truly enjoys it!
She is training hard, trying to become the best polo player she can be, but does this give her enough space to still find love?
Having read the previous parts the series, I know what Roxy has been through.
But I was always curious about how Roxy actually found her passion for polo and how it all started.
The way Roxy felt before she found her passion for polo, is a feeling many people have. That makes it so recognizable for each and every one of us.
The way her situation is described, could be applied for everyone searching for love.
And when Roxy found polo, I was truly happy for her, as she found something what made her truly happy.
But this story is also about the struggling… it’s not that because you found something you truly love, that that is the end of it.
The trainings show that when you are truly passionate about something, you have to fight and work hard for it. Not everything is handed on a silver platter... and if you cannot find the courage to work hard, is it then a real passion, or is it only a fling?
Roxana enlightened us again more in the world of polo, the struggles and the work, and also in her world.
But also about the satisfaction in finding something that makes you happy, and that love can be found in several different aspects!
Seven and a Half Minutes, the third in the Polo Diaries, goes back to before the first novel, to explore Roxy’s story at the very beginning. She’s single in London, and (in her words) her days are filled with flat whites, trips on the tube, work, sleep, and repeat. Love seems far away, and yet she’s hopeful. We open with her at a speed dating night, feeling uneasy, but looking forward to possibility. From there, this wish for something more, and something hopeful, leads her to taking chances, and finding polo. This may be sold as a romantic sports comedy, where the girl will meet a guy and be happy, but really, this is about self-discovery. Can Roxy be comfortable in her own skin? And if someone else doesn’t come into her life, can she just love herself? It’s a lovely way to set a story, and is empowering, which I always love. I mean, from this author, I’m not sure why I didn’t expect that, but it was nice to realize.
In this clever prequal, we explore how she got into polo, and how the events of the first novel came to be possible. If you’ve read the series up to now, you know what’s to come, but knowing what came before is a real treat. I’m reminded (not through any semblance) of Borderlands, as I’ve been playing a lot of it, and they did something similar. They introduced the story, got so far into the franchise, spotted an opportunity, and snatched it. This does that, and the author has seen a swathe of story to touch on, so takes advantage. Fans will be happy. And, if you’re new to the series, nothing is spoiled. It’s the technical beginning, which means you could in theory begin the saga here, but if you wanted to read in order, you could. I love a series that’s not rigid, and can be enjoyed in whatever order feels good, so that’s a win for me. I’m totally new to the Polo Diaries, but have read the author’s nonfiction work, so moving to fiction was interesting for me, but her storytelling is lovely. She can retell a story, and as that’s exactly how this is presented, it’s written well. And to be totally upfront, it was my love for the author’s other work that brought me here, not the genre, and I was still very happy. So, that’s my very long-winded way of saying I liked this read.
Written in 1st person, with Roxy as our narrator, this novel utilizes the inner perspective, looking out, well. There’s a lot of omission at play, as when we’re thinking back, we don’t catch every tiny detail, so having a lot of thought and fixated focus makes a lot of sense. This does mean the reader needs to understand they have a bias narrator, and this isn’t necessarily a read for a lot of action, but what we get is the frame of mind of a 38 year old woman who feels having a man in her life will equal happiness. Again, that quickly becomes untrue, but it’s a journey. If you’re at a point in your life, where you feel stuck, unsure as to what you’d say if someone asked what your passions were, this is great. This explores happiness, with the purpose of leading into the rest of the series, so has a clear target – things anyone who might need help finding focus can appreciate. I can’t say I’m at that point in my life, but I can see the appeal, and the self-reflection is always welcome.
I, to digress a second time this review, was talking with friends earlier, where focus came up in conversation. It was in regards to furlough, something a lot of us are dealing with right now, and the idea the grass may be greener on the other side. Those working during this pandemic might feel jealous, and those at home might feel a lack of purpose. That springs to mind here. Roxy feels her life will be better with a man in her life, when really, she needs out of a rut. She needs purpose, direction, and to be doing something she enjoys. By wondering if the grass is greener, she’s putting blinkers on herself, and not looking within for answers. This, as with the author’s other work, spins back to the concept that we’re enough, we simply need to set the groundwork to believe that in ourselves. It’s thought provoking, and I liked that. Of course, this is also a fictional story of a woman getting into polo, and in that regard, it’s a lovely book. The plot is straight forward, the interactions are memorable, and above all, it’s surprisingly light hearted. For a quick read, one you could happily enjoy in a single day, these are all great qualities.
Did anything not work for me though? Well, it’s personal preference. I was attracted to this read, as I said, by the author, not the genre, so a lot of the sport was lost on me. This doesn’t hinder the story, but I feel any tension that could’ve built, wouldn’t have landed on my radar. I also couldn’t help wondering why this wasn’t sold as a prequel. What a weird thing to say, I hear, but I wouldn’t have sought this out as an introduction, with it labelled as the 3rd, so unless you’re reading reviews, or are recommended it, you’ll assume it’s linearly the 3rd in the series. That could lead to disappointment from steady fans too, who want a next chapter… but again, it’s literally my opinion.
Other than that, though, I liked the way this is laid out. It’s clever, but quirky, and I enjoyed Roxy’s voice. She’s a great narrator, and if you’re curious, and like sport, I highly recommend this for your TBR.
I made a plan in the beginning of 2020 to read more contemporary. It’s the one genre I kind of skipped over in the past. So, when Seven And A Half Minutes came up in my blog tour email, I said yes. I’m really glad I did!
I don’t know much about Polo, but author Roxana Valea made sure I knew enough to never be confused. I think that takes a lot of talent from an author to explain, but not over explain, keeping it entertaining.
I love the concept. This was just the kind of book I needed during this quarantine time. I recommend giving it a go!
This is the third book in The Polo Diaries series. All of the books can be read as standalone novels. This third one takes us back a little and focuses on the passion for the game and the horses.
One thing I always notice with this series is how the thrill determines the course of life. It’s more important than anything or anyone else when it comes down to it. A choice Roxy only thinks about when it’s quiet or is unable to partake in what makes her heart beat with such an intensity.
There is loneliness when the saddle is empty, but she is very much aware of the emptiness. Is it possible to find a way to have both? When her body crumbles and she is unable to live her passion will the recovery teach her something she wasn’t expecting to learn?
I have to give Valea her dues when it comes to describing polo and her love for the game, especially when it comes to describing the different types of polo players. You can clearly feel the passion, the emotional attachment, the thrill of the adrenaline rush, the love of the physical exhaustion and the skill of the game. The way she pays homage to the people who taught her, each giving her a small gift, which combined creates the entirety of her talent and skills.
Valea describes it all in a way that makes me want to join in, and it fires up my competitive spirit, which is of course a sign the author has done their job. Her own experiences are absolutely what make this read compelling because it has an authentic and realistic feel you don’t often get when the account is purely fictional.
I have read both Books 1 and 3 of the polo diaries and glad to see some background on Roxy as sort of a prequel of where this all started as a young woman in London before her adventures in South America. Love fore horses has always been a part of Roxy's life - her love and passion before anything else. Life sometimes leads us to discovering passions and for Roxy it is Polo. She soon realizes that the demands of the sport which leaves very little room for anything else.
I enjoyed reading this in an afternoon for a nice escape read and getting lost in the sport and London. It was so nice to read about Roxy again and this time, author Roxana Valea takes us to the very beginning where the polo diaries started. (...)