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Talking to Horses

The Horse Whisperer

by Nicholas Evans

Published by Delacorte Press

404 pages, 1995

ISBN: 0385315236

Reviewed by Linda L. Richards


Nicholas Evans resists the Horse Whisperer's comparisons to The Bridges of Madison County, but the similarities exist. Passionate and binding love in the middle years against the backdrop of rural America. Stories that include real love, strong men and women with steel in their backs. These are -- it seems -- the elements of stories that the literate of the world would currently demand.

So, at least, it would seem. Despite early pannings by the "big" U.S. reviewers, The Horse Whisperers' first edition was published in 29 languages and released in over 50 countries. Four days at sale saw the book shoot to third place on The New York Times' bestseller list, displacing books that had held their positions for months.

Set against the big Montana sky, The Horse Whisperer weaves the tale of journalist and editor Annie Graves who falls in love with a man whose magic with horses has led Graves to bring her daughter and her daughter's horse across the country in an effort to save her family's shattered lives.

It's a convincing tale compellingly told, which makes it easy to forgive Evans if it sometimes feels a little too formula. All the elements are -- pointedly it would seem -- here. The shattered child. Her broken horse. The beautiful and heroic mother. The gentleman cowboy. An adventure of the first order.

What saves the story from being too familiar is Evans' skillful treatment. It's a massive tale, but the author's unobtrusive touch makes the 130,000 word book a hard one to put down.

Nicholas Evans' explosive appearance onto the literary scene makes it seem likely that future offerings will be worth watching.

 

Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.