The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans has been on my radar since I saw half of the movie during the 1st lockdown. I finally got to it this month. The story begins in upstate New York when two young girls take their horses out on a ride.
Grace Maclean and her friend decide to go horse riding. They get involved in a freak accident. Grace and her horse Pilgrim survive, Grace loses her right leg. Both Pilgrim and Grace are emotionally, mentally, and physically traumatized by the accident. Annie is Grace’s stubborn and workaholic mother. She and her husband aren’t exactly happy either. Before the accident, she is focused on her work and less on her family. Annie and her husband Robert have different ways of dealing with Grace after the accident. Neither of them is wrong, it’s understandable, but it does seem like Annie thinks her husband is wrong. Pilgrim is out of control and recommended to be put down. Annie refuses to give up on Pilgrim. She takes Grace and Pilgrim to Montana to Tom Booker, who is a Horse Whisperer.
The story delves a lot into healing from different angles. Grace and Pilgrim start making progress with Tom’s help and slowly start to look ahead. Annie’s relationship with her daughter improves and the ranch life suits them. I liked how the parallel between Pilgrim and Grace is played out. It’s done realistically; nothing about it is drastic. In some ways, the story is pretty predictable. Hectic city life vs the quieter country living especially for Annie who is a big-shot magazine editor constantly thinking about work. Her strained relationship with Grace improves and she and Tom fall in love.
This is a subplot that makes sense and it doesn’t. The story hits all the emotional notes from the start and this love story adds to the tension. It becomes the focus in the latter part of the story that I didn’t completely like. The characters are well-written and sympathetic for the most part. You can find elements in them you can relate to or understand to an extent.
Now I want to talk about the ending. It was all very anticlimactic for me. I get the character’s motivation behind it and I failed to understand the purpose of it. I thought about it after I finished reading it and I didn’t agree with it. Tom has a heart of gold, he is the solid good guy and hero of this story. In the end, though, it seems like his decision didn’t serve any purpose. I was a little unsatisfied with how it all played out.
I liked the pace of the story. The beginning of the story with the accident is described in vivid details that make you understand the gravity of it. The setting and the characters are interesting. Overall, it is a good book.