A forty-ton truck hurtles out of control on a snowy country road, a teenage girl on horseback in its path. In a few terrible seconds the life of a family is shattered. And a mother's quest begins--to save her maimed daughter and a horse driven mad by pain. It is an odyssey that will bring her to The Horse Whisperer. He is the stuff of legend. His voice can calm wild horses and his touch heals broken spirits. For secrets uttered softly into pricked and troubled ears, such men were once called Whisperers. Now Tom Booker, the inheritor of this ancient gift, is to meet his greatest challenge. Annie Graves has traveled across a continent with her daughter, Grace, and their wounded horse, Pilgrim, to the Booker ranch in Montana. Annie has risked everything--her career, her marriage, her comfortable life--in her desperate belief that the Whisperer can help them. The accident has turned Pilgrim savage. He is now so demented and dangerous that everyone says he should be destroyed. But Annie won't give up on him, for she feels his fate is inextricably entwined with that of her daughter, who has retreated into a heartrending, hostile silence. Annie knows that if the horse dies, something in Grace will die too. In the weeks to come, under the massive sky of the Rocky Mountain Front, all their lives--including Tom Booker's--will be transformed forever in a way none could have foretold. At once an epic love story and a gripping adventure, The Horse Whisperer weaves an extraordinary tale of healing and redemption--a magnificent emotional journey that explores our ancient bonds with earth and sky and hearts untamed. It is a stirring elegy to the power of belief and self-discovery, to hopes lost and found again.
Style: Evans indulges in frequent, annoying, and unnecessary back-stitching instead of proceeding in straightforward fashion. Descriptions of the West, ranching, horses, and the people are well-done, but I really disliked his adherence to modern "standards" requiring angst and ego disguised as psychological liberation.
Read a non-fiction book about the real thing instead; you'll be better off
My issue is not so much with Evans' writing ability as it is his stereotypical treatment of men and women. Indeed, the opening scenes of accident and trauma made me think I had the wrong impression of the story. But, it was all down hill from there. It turned out that Annie and Grace were victims of "my mother works" syndrome. It took removal from the big city and entry into the "aw shucks ma'am" country to bring them fulfillment. The addition of a handsome cowboy in the form of Tom Booker certainly didn't hurt either.
Evans allowed Annie to cry more than once in her journey to fulfillment - despite Annie's criticism of Robert's tears over their daughter's accident. Frankly, I wanted Annie to cry a lot more than she did, and I definitely didn't want her fulfilled. Annie was the main character in the story and I didn't like her at all. She was greedy, manipulative and selfish. Her awfulness might have been tolerable if she had been made to pay it. But Evans extracted no payment at all. Instead, she got everything she wanted. This result made me say "Ugh!" and rejoice when the final cassette was finished.
The writing was top notch, characters sketched with skill and confidence, and I also liked the totally superfluous gag about the girls on the subway discussing the meaning of dreams.
The scene where the horse's treatment reaches its conclusion was curious. Less whispering, more bashing with blunt instruments, and it left a funny taste in my mouth. But I know nothing about horses.
4Q, 4P. Cover Art: Awesome!
The book is best suited for Highschoolers and Adults.
It was selected due to the interesting title.
Grade (of reviewer): 11th
And it's.....ok. Not brilliant (this was a novice after all!) but it could have been a lot lot worse. There was the occasional turn of phrase that I thought "Ooooh, could have done that better", but not many.
In short, a girl and her horse have an accident, and the mother seeks out a renowned "Horse Whisperer" to help the horse recover. In doing so, he helps heal the emotional and psyhcological scars that both the daughter and mother have built up over the years.
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.
The description of the accident kickstarts this tale was so vivid and traumatic that I felt that I had no option but to read it all the way through in one go rather than attempt to come back to it. That said I felt that it was because it was well written rather than merely gratuitous. This also had the effect of you really feeling for the plight of both Grace and Pilgrim and just willing them to have a happy eventual outcome.
The relationship between Grace and her mother was well drawn, showing the difficulties that can arise between mother and teenage daughter,(especially so as the author is male) and on the whole I thought that all the charcterisations were well written. I felt for Grace, felt a little sorry for Robert who seemed a genuinely nice guy, Tom was so laid back it was hard to dislike him but I must admit I never could really take to Annie as I felt that she was something of a control freak. I also enjoyed both the desciptions of Tom's work with the horses as well as the scenery of rural Montana but felt that these were at times a little overblown.
What for me rather let the book down was the ending. It was heart-warming to see how well things turn out for Grace and Pilgrim and I had certainly not expected the demise of Tom but. Throughout the book the moral of the story seemed to be one of never give up, live for the day and grab your opportunities when they come along but in the end both for me Tom and Annie did give up and just accepted the hand life had dealt them.
Overall I enjoyed the book despite or maybe because it is not my usual sort of read and I did not need the hankies at any point. There was a good pace about the book and you certainly wanted to get to the end if only to see how things ended but in the final analysis it ended a little flat.
His name is Tom Booker. His voice can calm wild horses, his touch can heal broken spirits. And Annie Graves has traveled across a continent to the Booker ranch in Montana, desperate to heal her injured daughter, the girl's savage horse, and her own wounded heart. She comes for hope. She comes for her child. And beneath the wide Montana sky, she comes to him for what no one else can give her: a reason to believe ...
Being on the ranch is good for them all but Annie and Tom become intimate and when Grace finds out she recklessly off into the wilderness. Tom, knowing that he cannot have Annie, but neither can he live without her, rides after Annie with his brother. The leader of a herd of wild mustangs challenges Pilgrim and they fight whilst Grace is left cowering in the background. Tom deliberately places himself in harms way, becoming fatally wounded by the hooves of the stallion.
Grace, Annie and Pilgrim return to New York to rebuild their life with Robert who has been told the truth. Annie discovers she is pregnant, finally giving birth to a baby with Tom's blue eyes.
I really liked this book, however I would have rather the author stuck with Grace and Pilgrim's story which would have made a fantastic book for young adults. Instead, Annie and Tom's story takes over which is a shame and feels like it was unnecessary. Would like to see a young adults version come out focused on Grace, Pilgrim and more of the techniques used by a 'horse whisperer'.