Ponies, ponies, ponies
The Horse Whisperer
Delacorte Press, New York, 1995, hb, 404 pp.
Bantam, London, 1995, 348 pp.
Corgi, London, 1996, 478 pp.
The book opens in New York state, where teenager Grace McLean and her horse Pilgrim have
an horrific accident. Grace is left permanently injured, and Pilgrim is so traumatised he cannot
be approached. In an effort to heal them both, Grace’s mother Annie hauls them all across
America to persuade horse whisperer Tom Booker to help them all.
Nicholas Evans was born in 1950 in Worcestershire. He was educated at Oxford, and graduated with a first class degree in law. He worked as a journalist for three years on the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, and then moved into television and film production. In 1993 he was told about horse whisperers by a blacksmith he met in the South West of England, and he started work on his first novel, The Horse Whisperer. He travelled around America researching the book, and met Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt and Buck Brannaman, on which figures the book’s hero, Tom Booker, was based. Monty Roberts has since claimed that the hero was based on him, a claim Evans strenuously denies. Although the book features horses, Evans prefers not to think of it as a horse story -
Although Evans is British, all his books are set in America, and he didn’t really consider setting the book in the UK. He said, painting the British horse world in bold and clichéd colours as he did so: "It wouldn't have worked at all in England. There's a class thing there. Set in Britain, Annie would have been this bitchy upper class matron. She would never have lowered herself. And Tom would have been someone from the stables.'" Really? It sounds as if the British horse world is more of a foreign country to him than America.
Nicholas Evans’ later novels have not continued with the equine theme. His latest book, The Brave, has been delayed for two years after Nicholas and his family (but fortunately not his children) ate poisonous mushrooms, leading to serious kidney damage for three of the party. Nicholas is still on dialysis, and waiting for a kidney transplant.
Finding the book: still in print, and easy to find.
Links and sources
Nicholas Evans’ website
The film The Horse Whisperer
An interview with Nicholas Evans about The Horse Whisperer (Linda L Richards)
A later interview with Nicholas Evans (Linda L Richards)