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by Nicholas Evans

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 1995
ISBN: 0-385-31523-6
Publisher: Delacorte

 The heavily hyped first novel by English screenwriter Evans, who was advanced $3 million for his efforts, offers no surprisesand all the advantages of a formulaic plot. Annie Graves, the 43-year-old, hard-nosed British editor of a glossy New York magazine, is distracted from her dull marriage and hectic career by a freak accident upstate. Her teenaged daughter, Grace, has been hit by a truck and very nearly killed while riding horseback in a snowstorm. The girl loses a leg, and although horse Pilgrim survives in one piece, the accident turns him into a mad beast beyond anyone's control. Annie, stubborn in her insistence that no real tragedy can ever befall her, refuses to have Pilgrim put out of his misery and becomes obsessed with restoring the animal to health as a way of showing Grace that life can go on as before. She's heard stories of ``whisperers''charmers who can calm the wildest horsesand eventually finds one, Montana rancher Tom Booker. At first, Tom wants nothing to do with Annie, whom he sees as a pushy, rich, shallow East Coast cutout, or with Pilgrim, who seems beyond his help. But Annie won't give up: She packs Pilgrim into a trailer and drives him and Grace out to the Montana backwoods and throws herself at Tom's mercy. This sojourn in the wild, of course, has as much to do with the direction of Annie's life as it has for Grace's or Pilgrim's, and Tom, like all good Christ figures, is able to expel the demons of all who cross his path before he meets his own unhappy end. By that time, however, everyone has been healed--even Annie. This well-paced equine edition of The Miracle Worker, with a story obvious to the point of allegory, is not long on suspense. And the prose (``When they kissed, it seemed to Annie she was coming home'') adds little by way of depth. Pretty pale altogether, then, but the publisher will find a large, ready-made audience among devotees of New Age-style romance. (First printing of 600,000; film rights to Hollywood Pictures; Literary Guild main selection)