Movies

Nicholas Evans, Author of ‘The Horse Whisperer,’ Dies at 72

British journalist-turned-author Nicholas Evans broke publishing and film records with his novel-turned-film The Horse Whisperer, along with readers’ hearts that made the book a bestseller in 20 countries in August. Died on the 9th. his house in London. he was 72 years old.

The cause was a heart attack, said his longtime agent Caradoc King.

In 1993, 43-year-old Mr. Evans was drifting penniless. He worked as a journalist and documentary filmmaker, spending two years on a film project that eventually fell apart when he began looking for novel ideas. It wasn’t. as he turned around and said On his website, he writes, “Why are debut novels by unknown authors more likely to take off than movies?”

However, he found the subject intriguing. It is the mystical and masculine art of horse whispering. His source was a farrier, and Mr. Evans soon learned that the profession of calming horses had a long history spanning many centuries.

But in England, as he said, horse matters had too much class baggage, so he turned to the American West for his story. When I met cowboy Tom Dorrance and watched him pacify a frenzied mare in California, it was my trump card. He then found two other cowboys of his who practiced the same convincing magic, and these he began creating characters inspired by the three men.

Mr. Evans sat down and wrote about 150 pages of what would become “The Whisper of a Horse.” This is a soapy drama about a young girl and her horse being hit by a truck, and her mother, an East Coast magazine editor and her avid driver, is trying to heal their trauma. Find the Horse Whisperer in Montana.

The healing that followed involved more than horses. Mr. Evans showed the draft to Mr. King. Mr. King sent a partial manuscript to several publishers on his way to that year’s Frankfurt Book Fair. Suddenly, Mr. Evans was in the middle of a bidding pandemonium, juggling offers from Hollywood as well as publishers on both sides of the Atlantic.

When Bob Bookman, an agent at a creative artist agency negotiating the sale of the film rights, asked Evans what he wanted, Evans offered a modest $50,000. As reported by Sarah Lyall of The New York Times, Buchman said, “I think we can get $3 million.” And they did. Hollywood Pictures and Robert Redford’s film studio, Wildwood Pictures, won the bid, at the time the highest paid for the rights to the first novel (roughly $6 million in today’s dollars). Mr. Evans’ North American book set another record, reaching his $3.15 million from Dell Publishing.

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Then Mr. Evans had to finish the book. He told Ms. Lyall that he had become morbidly superstitious. He stopped biking and chose the slow lane when driving his car. What he didn’t even disclose to his agent was that he had been diagnosed with melanoma.

Nevertheless, he survived and thrived. Published in 1995, the book was a worldwide bestseller, translated into 40 languages, but critics criticized its melodrama. Michiko Kakutani, writing for The New York Times, called it “a happy romance novel filled with sentimental claptraps about the emotional lives of animals and Walleresque’s whooey about men and women.” called.

“The only thing missing is a picture of Fabio on the cover,” she added.

Released in 1998, the film received more favorable reviews and was a modest success at the box office, thanks to Mr. Redford’s star power and solid directing skills. He played horse whisperer Tom Brooker to deliver a more restrained version of Mr. Evans’ story, with Kristin Scott Thomas as his mother Annie McLean and Scarlett Johansson as his daughter Grace. played. Sam Neill was Annie’s cuckold husband. Mr. Redford’s version ended rather ambiguous. Evans, who has taken a more confrontational path, was initially shaken by the change.

For better or worse, Evans unwittingly introduced the word “whisperer” into popular dictionaries as an umbrella term for an expert who can tame complex creatures like babies. I was.

“It was an extraordinary event,” King said, recalling the frenzy surrounding Evans’ novel. “It was just the magic of the story. That was the problem.

Nicholas Evans was born on July 26, 1950 in Worcestershire, West Midlands, England. He studied law at the University of Oxford and graduated with a first degree, the highest honor. He worked as a newspaper and television journalist and produced a weekly current affairs program. In the 1980s, he made documentary films about artists David Hockney and Francis Bacon, writer Patricia Highsmith, film director David Lean, and others.

After “The Horse Whisperer,” he wrote three more novels, all of which became bestsellers. “The Divide” (2005) explores what led to the death of a young woman whose body was found in a frozen mountain stream. The story inspired he told the Associated Press, by his own interrogation about what causes a marriage rift — marriages falling apart is the backstory of the book. His own 25-year marriage recently ended, he said.

Like his character, Mr. Evans was an avid outdoorsman and a charming Bill Nighy look-alike who skied and hiked. It seemed A family idyll turned into something close to tragedy.

He and his second wife, singer-songwriter Charlotte Gordon Cumming, were staying in the Scottish Highlands with her brother Alastair Gordon Cumming and his wife, Lady Louisa. They enjoyed eating wild mushrooms that turned out to be poisonous. All four became ill and their kidneys soon failed. Evans, Gordon Cumming, and her brother required years of dialysis and new kidneys. Mr. Evans’ daughter Lauren donated one of her daughters. Gordon Cumming was donated a kidney from his son’s best friend’s mother. Cumming’s kidney was from a deceased patient. Mr. Evans became a patron of a kidney donation charity. Gordon Cumming made a documentary film about her experience.

Mr. Evans’ survivors include his wife and four children, Finley, Lauren, Max and Harry.

His reviews became more positive with every book. Nevertheless, he tended to avoid reading them.

‘The book business is a very strange thing. The very definition of literary fiction and commercial fiction has always seemed strange to me,’ Evans said. told The Guardian in 2011“One is defined by the number of books sold, the other by its ideas and their so-called literary value. And there are all sorts of assumptions involved in this. On the other hand, if no one buys the book, no one is smart enough to understand it, so the book is considered a mark of respect. increase.”

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