Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans

When I started this book, I had no idea what it was about. The dust jacket had been removed, and I haven't seen the movie based on it. A friend loaned it to me and said she'd liked it, and that was enough for me.

By the time I was halfway through chapter one, I was completely sucked in. The story was vivid, the characters were so deftly described that in just a few sentences I understood what kind of person each was, and the action picked up pretty quickly. I was so enthralled by this story that I realized it had been a very poor choice for reading on the ride up to campus, because I have to switch from bus to train to bus and there was a pretty good chance I'd miss my stop. Still, I persevered with both my journey and my book, though I was resentful of the need to pay attention to the outside world.

At some point halfway through The Horse Whisperer, though, something changed. At first, I was reading a compelling story about a New York City family with one beloved child, a family struggling to overcome a shocking tragedy and move on with their lives. A story about Pilgrim, a horse that had been through such severe trauma that everyone had pretty much given up on him ever being able to go back to his former life. And a story about the "horse whisperer", the man with a gift for taming the wildest and most nervous horse with his gentle, empathic approach. So that was all good. But then... Sometime after Tom, our horse expert, is reluctantly hired to work with Pilgrim, suddenly I found myself reading an entirely different book. Equally well written, but... well... it was a sappy romance! Featuring adultery! With lame, poetically written justifications for it!

And geez, I just didn't want to read a romance novel; I wanted more of what there was at the beginning of this book. So, in spite of the great writing, the characters, the vivid descriptions, in the end I felt somewhat let down by The Horse Whisperer. At least Evans had the courtesy to tie up the loose ends, to give us a happy ending for some of the characters (and I guess it makes me just a tad sappy to like happy endings and loose ends tied up), but... geeeeeez. Enough with the long meaningful looks, the desperate lovers, the hot sex scenes. I want to hear more about the horse, dammit!

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