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Children's Literature Reviews Item 1 of 1
The horse whisperer
New York : Delacorte Press, 1995.
404 p. ; 25 cm.
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award, 1997-98 ; Nominee; Colorado
Reading Measurement Programs:
Reading Counts-Scholastic Interest Level High School Reading Level 9 Title Point Value 26 Lexile Measure 970
Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly) After all the fuss about the multimillion-dollar book and movie deals for this first novel from a British screenwriter and producer, the book itself is a mild anticlimax. It will undoubtedly be a major seller, however, for it touches a number of hot-wire themes: worldly success versus the simple life, the redeeming power of love, the mystique of animals--all set against a wide-screen background of Montana. But the screenwriter's hand has not been displaced by the novelist's creative imagination, and at too many points the book feels manipulative and schematic, the characters under-realized, just waiting to be filled out by star performers. The narrative begins with a frightful accident: teenage Grace Maclean, daughter of nice-guy lawyer Robert and tough, English-born magazine editor Annie, is out riding near their country home in upstate New York on a snowy day, and she and her beautiful horse Pilgrim are hit by a skidding tractor-trailer. Grace is crippled, Pilgrim desperately injured and mentally shattered. Annie takes things firmly in hand, finds a cowboy, Tom Booker, who is a wizard with horses and, with Grace and Pilgrim in tow, heads out to Montana in search of healing for the horse and ultimate recovery for Grace. Not surprisingly, she and the firm but gentle Booker fall in love--and this is where the frequent comparisons by early readers to The Bridges of Madison County were made. This is a much more sophisticated book, however, even if it draws some of the same morals about big-city angst and rustic simplicity. By far the best things are the scenes of horse-healing, which are genuinely fresh, surprising and seemingly authoritative. It is perhaps a reflection on the rest that Pilgrim's recovery is more affecting than the conventionally melodramatic resolutions for the human principals. But it will sell and sell. 600,000 first printing; Literary Guild main selection; Reader's Digest Condensed Books selection; movie rights to Robert Redford; simultaneous BDD audio; author tour. (Sept.)