The Horse Whisperer – Nicholas Evans – 4/10

“Sometimes what seems like surrender isn’t surrender at all. It’s about what’s going on in our hearts.”

Grace and Judith take their horses out on a snowy New York morning. A collision with a sleep-deprived trucker leaves one pair dead and a girl and horse fighting for their lives. Annie becomes convinced that her daughter’s fate is inextricably linked with the fate of her horse, and tracks down a horse whisperer to heal the crippled equine.  Soon it’s not just the girl and the horse whose futures are linked…

Yes I know this is chick lit of the greatest degree – ponies, cowboys, “the massive Montana sky”… Skipping right along:

It is very obvious after about page 100 that it is Annie with whom we are supposed to sympathise – this is Annie’s story, not Grace’s. Grace becomes a truculent, wilful child who is irritating to her mother – instead of the scarred survivor we should see. Annie – well I have no patience with characters who commit adultery, so… I was never going to like her. Evans does convey a very credible character though – she is stressed, trying to do a good job (eventually, just trying to keep her job), doesn’t understand why her child is resisting her helpful efforts, feels guilty for not being around more… I didn’t really understand her relationship with Robert (Grace’s dad) – there is an explanation of how they have got to where they are, but he seemed to just fade out of the picture once Annie and Grace went to Montana.

I quite enjoyed Tom’s back-story and his reticence with actual humans, but could I shake the idea that his name was Robert Redford (I saw the film maybe 8 years ago?)? No. As a reviewer on Bookmooch pointed out, this book was written for film – there’s pathetic fallacy and dark foreboding everywhere.

As for plot… the accident and the recovery are really a shell into which to tuck Annie and Tom’s romance and Annie’s reawakening as a country girl (or some sort of pretence thereat). And I don’t get on brilliantly with this romance business, so to me it was all just a lot of talking and stuff.

Maybe 4/10 is a bit harsh – it achieves what it sets out to do. I just don’t feel emotionally invested in any of the characters, like I did in Love Verb, intrigued by the interpersonal drama like I did in Touching Distance, or blown away by language and situation like in Bel Canto.

Additional info:
This was a personal copy from a big box purchase.
Publisher: Corgi, paperback, 479 pages.
Order this from Amazon*
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this link, which goes towards giveaways.

2 thoughts on “The Horse Whisperer – Nicholas Evans – 4/10”

  1. I have somehow never felt the need to read The Horse Whisperer. I think it may be because back when I was a child, every girl my age was crazy about horses, putting up huge posters of them on their walls, etcetera. It all seemed a little weird to me, but then that might have been because my mother never wanted me to start riding horses and used to make fun of “pony loving girls”. The movie (which I assume was based on this book) followed around the time that girls my age were still in that stage, or at least some of them, so I somehow could never separate the idea of “loving horses” from The Horse Whisperer. Plus, I did not understand the attractiveness of Richard Gere. And um, I don’t know – looking at the cover now and Nicholas Evans as a writer.. I do not think this book would work for me. These reasons all sound very superficial, don’t they?

    I consider myself a romantic and I love classic romance stories that combine romance with other observations on society, etcetera, but books only about romance always make me feel a bit uncomfortable.

    1. I completely agree with you about the difference between a romantic novel (i.e. one which features romance as part of a bigger story), and a romance novel (one which is solely about the romance itself).

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