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Due to all of the reviews I read on here and other sites, I have an ever increasing pile of books to read. Some I anticipate more than others, and some I read just because they are the next one on the pile. 'The Horse Whisperer' fell into the latter category. I had seen the film, and actually quite liked it, so I was not sure how I would enjoy the book, especially as I knew the twists and turns of the story.
I am off work at the moment, so this book had my undivided attention, and I am so glad that it did. I finished it yesterday, and I can honestly say I would read it again, as I am sure there are many parts I have missed because at times I think I was frantically skimming the odd page so I could see where the next page would take me.
Nicholas Evans is not an author whose work I am familiar with, and as this was his first novel published in the mid 1990's, I can only hope that is this is the standard he is setting, his future work is certainly worth looking out for! I assure you he is not another Jilly Cooper, combining love, sex and horses, but I assure you there are plenty of all three, just in a more subtle manner!
The story initally focuses on the MacLean family. Mother Annie is a successful writer whose drive and ambition have lead to her being headhunted for the position of editor with a high profile magazine. Her husband Robert, is a lawyer, and seems to pretty much follow Annie's lead where the family are concerned. They have a daughter called Grace, who is the focus of their attention when they are at home, and she is even more precious as they have never been able to have another child to complete their family.
Grace is an amiable child who loves to ride her newly purchased horse Pilgrim at the home they have away from the city. Their idyllic lives are shattered when Grace goes riding on a winter's morning, and is involved in a tragic accident which leaves her friend Judith and her horse Gulliver dead, whilst Pilgrim and Grace are seriously injured, and doubts remain whether either of them will survive.
Grace recovers but has to start her teenage years as an amputee, as the injuries she sustained in the accident were so serious one of her legs had to be amputated. Annie and Robert deal with the news in different ways, and Annie is portrayed as a woman who is devoid of emotion, and looks on Robert as the weaker party when he dares to shed a tear over his daughter's loss.
Pilgrim's physical injuries indicate that he will not survive, but Annie will not hear of any suggestions that he is put to sleep, but she is unaware of the emotional trauma the horse has suffered which has turned him into a frightened, and frankly dangerous animal. Annie dismisses all of the opinions pushed on her by people who are qualified to know what to do, and sets out to cure Pilgrim, and regain the horse that Grace loved so much before the accident.
Annie hears about men who work as horse whisperers, and through word of mouth she contacts Tom Booker. He finds Annie pushy, and at first is disgusted that she would even think of putting the horse through anymore pain and suffering, so he refuses to help, but this does not put Annie off. She packs up Grace and Pilgrim and travels over 2000 miles to Tom's home to beg for his help. This is where the story really grows in depth and emotion where relationships are scrutinised, then mended or broken.
I do not want to spoil your enjoyment of the book, so I will not let on anymore of the story, needless to say, I have not given away any major plot lines!
I really bought into the characters, and felt for them every step of the way, and as a mother, I tried to put myself in Annie's position to see if I could empathise with her. The descriptions of the animals and the surroundings are so brilliant, I could see them complete in my mind's eye, and I did this as I tried to clear my mind of what I had seen in the film. I felt panic along with them, but then I felt sadness with them, and each turn of the page made me experience a different emotion.
This book is amazing, and even if you are not a fan of love stories, it is not too sickly sweet to put you off. This is what happens when you meet someone who could have been the love of your life, but someone else took their place without you knowing it. This story made me experience so many emotions, and as I finished the final page I felt quite worn out. There is tragedy, sadness, determination, love, hate, jealousy, and when you think the book might finish off neatly, you are presented with a final devastating twist in the plot.
I really loved the characters, and I think seeing the film helped me to form mental pictures of them, although I have to say Tom should have been played by a younger actor than Robert Redford, and Kristin Scott Thomas would not have been my first choice based on the characters in the book. Get this book now.....even the most macho of you!!
I loved the film too. Hubby is not going to be happy as I will have to get the book - he hates books and can't move in the house for them! Sarah x
fran19 07.09.2003 14:04
I saw the film too, but have not read the book. I totally agree with the choice of actors. I still wonder why they picked Redford and Scott-Thomas for the leads. Good though. Take care. Fran19
MandyMinx 05.09.2003 12:39
I have seen the film and I have to say I find the whole subject facinating. I have always been a lover of horses and I definately should read this, although saying that I would have prefered to read the book before seeing the film...MANDXX