The Horse Whisperer: A Novel

The Horse Whisperer: A Novel

by Nicholas Evans

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “A compelling portrait of three people who love each other but can't break through the self-created walls that keep them apart.”—Chicago Sun-Times

His name is Tom Booker. His voice can calm wild horses, his touch can heal broken spirits. And Annie Graves has traveled across a continent to the Booker ranch in Montana, desperate to heal her injured daughter, the girl’s savage horse, and her own wounded heart. She comes for hope. She comes for her child. And beneath the wide Montana sky, she comes to him for what no one else can give her: a reason to believe.

Praise for The Horse Whisperer

“Compelling . . . a real page-turner.”San Francisco Chronicle

“Fascinating . . . moving . . . a big, engrossing book [with] an unexpected endeing that surprises mightily.”Los Angeles Times

“Brilliance pervades this five-hankerchief weepie.”The Times (London)

“Outstanding . . . a book of rare power and beauty.”Booklist

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307574749
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/16/2009
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 91,325
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Nicholas Evans studied law at Oxford University after serving in Africa with the Voluntary Service Overseas. He then studied journalism and worked as a newspaper reporter, television producer, and screenwriter before writing four bestselling novels. The Horse Whisperer, his first book, was made into a celebrated movie directed by Robert Redford. He lives in Devon with his wife, singer/songwriter Charlotte Gordon Cumming.

Read an Excerpt

THERE WAS DEATH AT ITS BEGINNING AS THERE WOULD BE death again at its end. Though whether it was some fleeting shadow of this that passed across the girl’s dreams and woke her on that least likely of mornings she would never know. All she knew, when she opened her eyes, was that the world was somehow altered.
The red glow of her alarm showed it was yet a halfhour till the time she had set it to wake her and she lay quite still, not lifting her head, trying to configure the change. It was dark but not as dark as it should be. Across the bedroom, she could clearly make out the dull glint of her riding trophies on cluttered shelves and above them the looming faces of rock stars she had once thought she should care about. She listened. The silence that filled the house was different too, expectant, like the pause between the intake of breath and the uttering of words. Soon there would be the muted roar of the furnace coming alive in the basement and the old farmhouse floorboards would start their ritual creaking complaint. She slipped out from the bedclothes and went to the window.
There was snow. The first fall of winter. And from the laterals of the fence up by the pond she could tell there must be almost a foot of it. With no deflecting wind, it was perfect and driftless, heaped in comical proportion on the branches of the six small cherry trees her father had planted last year. A single star shone in a wedge of deep blue above the woods. The girl looked down and saw a lace of frost had formed on the lower part of the window and she placed a finger on it, melting a small hole. She shivered, not from the cold, but from the thrill that this transformed world was for the moment entirely hers. And she turned and hurried to get dressed.
Grace Maclean had come up from New York City the night before with her father, just the two of them. She always enjoyed the trip, two and a half hours on the Taconic State Parkway, cocooned together in the long Mercedes, listening to tapes and chatting easily about school or some new case he was working on. She liked to hear him talk as he drove, liked having him to herself, seeing him slowly unwind in his studiously weekend clothes. Her mother, as usual, had some dinner or function or something and would be catching the train to Hudson this morning, which she preferred to do anyway. The Friday-night crawl of traffic invariably made her crabby and impatient and she would compensate by taking charge, telling Robert, Grace’s father, to slow down or speed up or take some devious route to avoid delays. He never bothered to argue, just did as he was told, though sometimes he would sigh or give Grace, relegated to the backseat, a wry glance in the mirror. Her parents’ relationship had long been a mystery to her, a complicated world where dominance and compliance were never quite what they seemed. Rather than get involved, Grace would simply retreat into the sanctuary of her Walkman.
On the train her mother would work for the entire journey, undistracted and undistractable. Accompanying her once recently, Grace had watched her and marveled that she never even looked out of the window except perhaps in a glazed, unseeing scan when some big-shot writer or one of her more eager assistant editors called on the cellular phone.
The light on the landing outside Grace’s room was still on. She tiptoed in her socks past the half-open door of her parents’ bedroom and paused. She could hear the ticking of the wall clock in the hall below and now the reassuring, soft snoring of her father. She came down the stairs into the hall, its azure walls and ceiling already aglow from the reflection of snow through undraped windows. In the kitchen, she drank a glass of milk in one long tilt and ate a chocolate-chip cookie as she scribbled a note for her father on the pad by the phone. Gone riding. Back around 10. Luv, G.
She took another cookie and ate it on the move as she went through to the passageway by the back door where they left coats and muddy boots. She put on her fleece jacket and hopped elegantly, holding the cookie in her mouth, as she pulled on her riding boots. She zipped her jacket to the neck, put on her gloves and took her riding hat down off the shelf, wondering briefly if she should phone Judith to check if she still wanted to ride now that it had snowed. But there was no need. Judith would be just as excited as she was. As Grace opened the door to step out into the freezing air, she heard the furnace come to life down in the basement.
Wayne P. Tanner looked gloomily over the rim of his coffee cup at the rows of snowcrusted trucks parked outside the diner. He hated the snow but, more than that, he hated being caught out. And in the space of just a few hours it had happened twice.
Those New York state troopers had enjoyed every minute of it, smug Yankee bastards. He had seen them slide up behind him and hang there on his tail for a couple of miles, knowing damn well he’d seen them and enjoying it. Then the lights coming on, telling him to pull over and the smartass, no more than a kid, swaggering up alongside in his Stetson like some goddamn movie cop.
He’d asked for the daily logbook and Wayne found it, handed it down and watched as the kid read it.
“Atlanta huh?” he Said, flipping the pages.
“Yes sir,” Wayne replied. “And it’s one helluva lot warmer down there, I can tell you.” The tone usually worked with cops, respectful but fraternal, implying some working kinship of the road. But the kid didn’t look up.
“Uh-huh. You know that radar detector you’ve got there is illegal, don’t you?”
Wayne glanced at the little black box bolted to the dash and wondered for a moment whether to play all innocent. In New York fuzz-busters were only illegal for trucks over eighteen thousand pounds. He was packing about three or four times that. Pleading ignorance, he reckoned, might just make the little bastard meaner still. He turned back with a mock-guilty grin but it was wasted because the kid still didn’t look at him. “Don’t you?” he said again.
“Yeah, well. I guess.”
The kid shut the logbook and handed it back up to him, at last meeting his eyes. “Okay,” he said. “Now let’s see the other one.”
“I’m sorry?”
“The other logbook. The real one. This one here’s for the fairies.” Something turned over in Wayne’s stomach.
For fifteen years, like thousands of other truck drivers, he’d kept two logs, one telling the truth about driving times, mileage, rest-overs and all and the other, fabricated specially for situations like this, showing he’d stuck by all the legal limits. And in all that time, pulled over God knows how many dozens of times, coast to coast, never had any cop done this. Shit, damn near every trucker he knew kept a phony log, they called them comic books, it was a joke. If you were on your own and no partner to take shifts, how the hell were you supposed to meet deadlines? How the hell were you supposed to make a goddamn living? Jesus. The companies all knew about it, they just turned a blind eye.
He had tried spinning it out awhile, playing hurt, even showing a little outrage, but he knew it was no good. The kid’s partner, a big bull-necked guy with a smirk on his face, got out of the patrol car, not wanting to miss out on the fun, and they told him to get down from the cab while they searched it. Seeing they meant to pull the place apart, he decided to come clean, fished the book out from its hiding place under the bunk and gave it to them. It showed he had driven over nine hundred miles in twenty-four hours with only one stop and even that was for only half the eight hours required by law.
So now he was looking at a thousand-, maybe thirteen-hundred-dollar fine, more if they got him for the goddamn radar detector. He might even lose his commercial driver’s license. The troopers gave him a fistful of paper and escorted him to this truck stop, warning him he’d better not even think of setting out again till morning.
He waited for them to go, then walked over to the gas station and bought a stale turkey sandwich and a six-pack. He spent the night in the bunk at the back of the cab. It was spacious and comfortable enough and he felt a little better after a couple of beers, but he still spent most of the night worrying. And then he woke up to see the snow and discovered he’d been caught out again.

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