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Extended Audio Sample Painted Horses Audiobook, by Malcolm Brooks Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Malcolm Brooks Narrator: Julia Whelan Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2014 ISBN: 9781483013534
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In the mid-1950s, America was flush with prosperity and saw an unbroken line of progress clear to the horizon, while the West was still very much wild. In this ambitious, incandescent debut, Malcolm Brooks animates that time and untamed landscape in a tale of the modern and the ancient, of love and fate, and of heritage threatened by progress.

Catherine Lemay is a young archaeologist on her way to Montana with a huge task before her—a canyon “as deep as the devil’s own appetites.” Working ahead of a major dam project, she has one summer to prove that nothing of historical value will be lost in the flood. From the moment she arrives, nothing is familiar—the vastness of the canyon itself mocks the contained, artifact-rich digs in post-Blitz London where she cut her teeth. And then there’s John H, a former mustanger and veteran of the US Army’s last mounted cavalry campaign, living a fugitive life in the canyon. John H inspires Catherine to see beauty in the stark landscape, and her heart opens to more than just the vanished past.

Painted Horses sends a dauntless young woman on a heroic quest, sings a love song to the horseman’s vanishing way of life, and reminds us that love and ambition, tradition and the future, often make strange bedfellows. It establishes Malcolm Brooks as an extraordinary new talent.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Painted Horses is a wonderful novel full of horses, archeology, the new West, and two fascinating women. Malcolm Brooks should be lauded for this amazing debut. Very fine.”

    Jim Harrison, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Malcolm Brooks’ novel has the hard thrill of the West, when it was still a new world, the tenderness of first love, and the pain of knowledge. This book is a gripping, compulsively readable page-turner.”

    Amy Bloom, New York Times bestselling author

  • Painted Horses is the kind of finely tuned and literary love story they don’t make much of anymore. Fans of Jamie Ford’s novels, or Jim Harrison’s, will be enthralled by Malcolm Brooks. He evokes a time and a place tinged by an autumnal sun, the brass thunderclap of things ending and beginning again. Painted Horses will carry you away.”

    Doug Stanton, New York Times bestselling author

  • “There is both great beauty and muted sorrow in Brooks’ descriptions of the wild Montana landscape and John H’s vanishing way of life…Painted Horses vividly evokes an earlier time, a place, and a way of being that is at the cusp of great change.”

    Washington Post

  • “Extraordinary…Intimate and sweeping in a way that may remind readers of Michael Ondaatje’s The English PatientPainted Horses is, after all, one of those big, old-fashioned novels where the mundane and the unlikely coexist.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Brooks’s debut captures the grandeur of the American West. Catherine Lemay, a former pianist, goes to Montana in the 1950s as a young archeologist to survey a valley for signs of native habitation before the area is flooded by a hydroelectric project…This is a debut that captures a spirit of a place.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Julia Whelan narrates this modern-day Western with panache and strength…Whelan delivers the stark descriptions of Montana with feeling and draws the listener into the atmosphere. She provides deep empathy for Catherine as she makes a choice that will affect many lives, especially her own.”


  • “Brooks delivers an authentic story, examining in gripping, page-turning prose what it means to live in the West…An outstanding debut novel that will linger in the reader’s mind.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Wonderful…Stirring descriptions of horses and Western landscapes echo the characters’ preservationist motives. Julia Whelan portrays the many characters of the novel deeply and distinctly. Recommended for fans of Westerns, archaeology, historical romances, or horse epics.”

    Library Journal (audio review)

  • “Set in an American West of the 1950s but carrying vestiges of the nineteenth century, and with Indian artifacts and the ancestry of wild horses going back even earlier, much of this novel, like its milieu, has a timeless feel…Vividly drawn atmosphere and strong characters will keep the reader engaged.”


  • “Reminiscent of the fiery, lyrical, and animated spirit of Cormac McCarthy’s Borderlands trilogy and the wisdom and elegance of Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose, Painted Horses is its own work, a big, old-fashioned, and important novel.”

    Rick Bass, award-winning author

  • “Dismissing Painted Horses for its Western tropes would ignore just how good this book is. Brooks’ prose is stylistically bold, announcing his artistic aspirations from the opening sentence. His characters are carefully drawn, yet their intentions remain ambiguous enough to be authentically human. His Montana is vivid, wild, and broad, and it’s obvious that Brooks lives where he writes and loves where he lives. Ultimately, Brooks accomplishes no small feat in this remarkable debut: a tale of literary ambition that lives comfortably inside its genre roots but not by its conventions.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “From its filmic geographical canvases and epochs to its mesmerizing close-ups of men, women, and horses whose weaknesses, wounds, and powers are in plain paradoxical view, Malcolm Brooks’ novel making is always skilled and often breathtaking. There isn’t a passing landscape, archaeological wonder, minor character, dialect, or wild horse in this story that isn’t convincing. And the broken but magic horseman, John H, is for my money one of the great characters of Montana’s estimable literature.”

    David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K and The River Why

  • “In Painted Horses, Malcolm Brooks tells a spectacular story…[with] real and painted horses, danger and defeat, and an enduring love affair. Kept me up through a few nights.”

    William Kittredge, author of The Willow Field

  • Painted Horses is a gorgeous, luminous song of a novel. Malcolm Brooks not only knows landscape and history and the blood that stains it around the world, he also knows lost tribes that are merely hidden, ancient ways that yet reside forever in the few who choose to listen. This is a stunning debut and a novel that gracefully stands up to comparison with Harrison’s Legends of the Fall and McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses. But as such, it stands alone. I suspect we’ll be hearing much more from Brooks.”

    Jeffrey Lent, author of In the Fall

  • “I read Malcolm Brooks’ new novel, Painted Horses, with fascination, then amazement. Big, thrilling, poignant, astonishingly confident, it is the work of a master rather than that of a first-time novelist. With a story that moves from the bombed cities and battlefields of Europe to the wild badlands of eastern Montana and an eye for everything from the quality of a horse to the techniques of painting and archaeology, it will draw you in and leave you dreaming. I have rarely read a novel that realized a world so well.”

    Stephen J. Bodio, author of An Eternity of Eagles

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month in Fiction for August 2014
  • An Amazon Editor’s Top Pick for August 2014
  • Barnes & Noble's Biggest Books, August 2014
  • Selected for the Fall 2014 Barnes & Noble Discover Award
  • An Amazon Best Book of 2014
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About the Author

Malcolm Brooks was raised in the rural foothills of the California Sierras and grew up around gold-rush era and Native American artifacts. A carpenter by trade, he has lived in Montana for most of two decades. His writing has appeared in Gray’s Sporting Journal, Outside, Sports Afield, and Montana Quarterly, among others.

About the Narrator

Julia Whelan, winner of numerous Earphones Awards, won the prestigious Audie Award for Best Romance Narration in 2013 and has also been a finalist for an Audie Award in other years. She is a former child actor who has appeared in multiple films and television shows, most notably ABC’s Once and Again. After receiving her college degree, she returned to the film industry and is also a writer. Her audiobook credits include memoir, nonfiction, romance, supernatural thrillers, young adult, and adult fiction.