Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Customer Review - Watership Down

Watership Down
by Richard Adams [Adams or j Adams]

Some novels will feel like an endurance test just four pages in. Without fail, whenever I read Watership Down, those four hundred pages feel to me like a summer holiday. "The rabbits arrived at their new home " but I'm not even halfway through the book," my husband observed. "What in the world can happen next?" Richard Adams never ceases to amaze me with how he handles pacing. On the surface, his rabbit tale is a fairly simple one: rabbits must escape their doomed warren and find a new home. In less capable hands, Watership Down would have been half as long and packed with chases, storms, brawls, and catastrophes. But Adams never hurries his tale. Adams also never resorts to implausible plot twists. Instead he is perfectly content to tell his simple tale and trust his readers to listen -- and so we do. I am also astounded at how imperfect and yet captivating are Adams' rabbits. Take Fiver, a runt who has been blessed with the gift of prophecy. Then there is Fiver's older brother, Hazel, whose greatest strength is his ability to identify and trust the strengths of others. Yet even he also makes errors in judgment. Darker characters also exist. For example, Strawberry who lives in a different warren almost becomes the downfall of one of Hazel's companions. Despite his betrayal, he eventually joins Hazel's warren and becomes a great asset. These rabbits are fallible, allowing Adams to present many stirring moments of heartache and redemption. Adams considered the Berkshire countryside to also be a character in Watership Down. That's not to say Adams wastes time waxing poetic. In each paragraph, he details the scenery but also the place of the rabbits within it: "The May sunset was red in clouds and there was still half an hour to twilight. The dry slope was dotted with rabbits -- some nibbling at their grass". Those paragraphs might be long, but they effectively establish a tone of peace, which within a few pages is quietly interrupted. Readers are all the richer for how saturated in reality Watership Down really is. "No author today would think of writing a four-hundred-page book about rabbits," my husband observed. Adams himself did not begin with such an audacious goal; Watership Down started out as story told by Adams to his daughters on car rides. After a small-time publisher accepted it for a two thousand copy run, it has rightfully sold millions. -- this review submitted by Allison H.-F. - a customer of the Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you read this one? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

New Customer Reviews appear regularly in the pages of the BookGuide web site. You can visit the Customer Reviews page to see them all and/or submit your own, or watch them appear here in the BookGuide blog individually as we receive them.

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