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The Horse Whisperer Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 1996

736 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

The Horse Whisperer is a story made in Hollywood heaven. The novel was written by a first-time author, and the film option was snapped up by aging heartthrob Robert Redford for 3 million smackers. Why take such risks on a brand-spanking-new author? The answer becomes clear upon reading the touching tale.

One morning while teenage Grace Maclean is riding Pilgrim, her goofy, loveable pony, she has a horrendous glass-shattering, bone-splintering, ligament-lynching meeting with a megaton truck that leaves her and her four-legged friend damaged in mind, body, and spirit. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, her jaded, brilliant, bitchy mom, Annie Graves (Kristin Scott Thomas in the 1998 film) is working out a wrinkle in her self-absorbed existence when she gets a call at her plush, Manhattan office about Grace's accident. Racked with guilt, Graves makes it her calling to find the mythical horse whisperer, an equine Zen master who has the ability to heal horses (and broken souls) with soothing words and a gentle touch. Just when it seems he can't be found, what do you know, she finds him. He arrives in the form of Tom Booker-- a rugged, sensitive, dreamy cowboy who helps Pilgrim and Grace repair their fractured selves. To add more mesquite to fire, Booker has a way with not-so-injured, attractive, married women--like Annie. As the plot thickens, so does the familial strife, which threatens to undo Booker's healing work.

Like an expert cinematographer, Evans deftly crafts each scene with precision and clarity, sprinkling in ominous signs and foreboding images. For example, in the opening paragraphs, as Annie starts out on the tragic ride, she comes across a bloody bird wing that seems to have fallen out of nowhere. The weight of impending doom is further strengthened by the truck driver's bad luck--he has a run-in with the highway patrol just moments before his meeting with Grace and Pilgrim. These not-so-subtle subliminal messages are masterfully stitched in throughout the story and may compel readers to act as if they were watching a B-grade horror movie, shouting aloud, "Don't go there!" However sentimental, The Horse Whisperer is an engaging read, sort of like a finely tuned, well-edited film. --Rebekah Warren --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Screenwriter Evans's debut novel spent 38 weeks on PW's bestseller list.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 451 pages
  • Publisher: Dell (October 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440222656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440222651
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (736 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,391,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nicholas Evans studied law at Oxford University after serving in Africa with Voluntary Service Overseas. He then worked as a newspaper reporter, TV producer, and screenwriter before writing four bestselling novels. His first book, The Horse Whisperer was made into a movie directed by Robert Redford. He lives in Devon with his wife, singer/songwriter Charlotte Gordon Cumming.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By LMB on November 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Unlike some other reviewers I wasn't expecting this book to be a great work of modern literature but rather a beautiful story that everyman could relate to with a bit of thought. I wasn't disappointed. Maybe the author was a screenwriter and maybe the sentimental story itself is set out to read like a movie plot unfolding, none of that, to my way of thinking, diminished the simple zen beauty of the authors prose which reflected the search for an inner calm in each of the main characters.
Others here have commented on the gore and adrenalin surging accident of Grace and the conveniently named Pilgrim and I from similar experiences found it traumatic - for the horse, but not for Grace herself because her story is really the means by which she and her mother find grace. Her mother Annie is forced to take stock of a life that she fears is not satisfying and which casts an effect on her child and her marriage.
If Tom, in a typical display of the western horseman, seems wooden through a lack of dialogue it is because he relates to the world through the horses he works with, espousing the simple wisdoms of a man who has learned to read what is subtle and unspoken. His loneliness is echoed in the souls of Pilgrim, Grace and Annie.
That Annie and Tom predictably fall in love and betray her marriage vows, in a different rendition of Graces relationship with Pilgrim, is not an issue. It is that only through the catalyst for change in Tom and the nature of his work with Pilgrim we find the key to the characters, that they too must sacrifice the instinct for self preservation to be remade with maturity.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Hannah Fowler on February 19, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was drawn to the story because the horse and the family needed healing on many levels. I wanted to know more about how the horse and teenager were rehabilitated. Tom Booker, a.k.a. the Horse Whisperer, was an appealing character because he was a very balanced person. It was his role to be the healer. He had his wounds, but used them intuitively to help others. The author portrayed him as a spiritual sort of guy. Suddenly, we are led to believe that he has an epiphany: He needs Annie! Unfortunately, their mutual desire was portrayed on a superficial level. Tom kept remembering her eyes, her smile, etc. This was teenage crush material; not at all in keeping with his stature or implied integrety. Furthermore, without giving the ending of the book away, Tom's final decision was totally unbelievable to me, considering the fact that he'd earned the teenage girl's trust. Just what she needed, more fodder for Post-Traumatic Stress disorder!

The book begins in a promising way, especially when Tom comes on the scene. However, the ending just didn't live up to my expectations. I skipped the sex scenes and think the main characters would have been a little better off if they had, too!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Fisher TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I can easily see why "The Horse Whisperer" became a bestseller. It is a poignant story of tragedy and healing, one that moves at a quick pace, manages to be both predictable in its overarching story, yet surprising in its details, and is told in clear - though somewhat bland - prose. It is by no means great literature, but as a holiday or `cold winter night' read, it fits the bill.

Thirteen-year old Grace Mclean is the victim of a horrific horse-riding accident (involving ice, a truck and two panicked horses) that claims the life of her friend and leaves her with an amputated leg. Damaged almost beyond repair, her horse Pilgrim is deranged with terror and pain - but Grace's mother Annie refuses to put the animal down, instinctively feeling that her daughter's ability to heal her body and soul is somehow connected to that of her horse.

Finding no support from any of the local vets, Annie tracks down a man named Tom Booker who is renowned throughout Montana for his skills as a "horse whisperer," a man who seems to instinctively understand and heal damaged horses. When Tom initially refuses to help, believing it to be too late for Pilgrim already, Annie (a business woman who is not used to getting no for an answer) packs up the horse and her daughter, and makes the drive to the Booker Ranch to demand the help that her entire family desperately needs.

It's an intriguing premise, and Nicholas Evans expertly creates the loving but tentative bonds between Annie, her husband Robert and their insightful, but rather sullen daughter Grace. Likewise, the disintegrating relationship between mother and daughter (which was never particularly strong to begin with) is poignantly portrayed as both Annie and Grace attempt to define, and then grasp what they each want from one another.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Aleksandra Nita-Lazar on May 9, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When thirteen-year-old Grace decides to go for an early winter morning horse ride with her friend Judith in upstate New York, she expects it to be a refreshing way to start the day. Instead, they are victims of a horrible accident, when they lose control and their horses slide down an ice-covered slope just under the truck, whose brakes also give way in the slippery snow.
Judith and her horse are killed. Grace and her horse, Pilgrim, save their lives, but Grace loses her leg, and Pilgrim loses his sanity.
Grace's mother, Annie, an editor of the prestigious magazine, is in her Manhattan office, when she gets a call from her husband Robert with the horrible news. Annie, who is completely absorbed in her work, ambitious, selfish and distanced from family life, seeing her daughter in the stupor and her gentle husband being helpless, experiences guilt, grief and desire to help her daughter. She realizes she can help Grace only by helping Pilgrim - and she sets out to do so. After library research she decides to employ a horse whisperer - and the one whose reputation catches her attention is Tom Booker. After lots of persuasion and effort on Annie's side, Tom finally agrees to work with Pilgrim and the long period of changes for the whole family begins...

Indeed, "The Horse Whisperer" is not an example of great literature. It does not aspire to be. This novel is a fine specimen of the popular fiction genre -there is a good story, uncomplicated plot with a moral message, describing and evoking powerful emotions in unsophisticated style.
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