Thursday, 22 February 2018

Book Review: Watership Down by Richard Adams

Watership Down follows the story of a group of rabbits who are in search of a new home after they escape the destruction of their warren.

We do not take moonlight for granted. It is like snow, or like the dew on a July morning. It does not reveal but changes what it covers. And its low intensity---so much lower than that of daylight---makes us conscious that it is something added to the down, to give it, for only a little time, a singular and marvelous quality that we should admire while we can, for soon it will be gone again.” 

Let’s provide some background to my Watership Down reading experience – I’ve never seen the movie, never read the book before, so I honestly had no idea what to expect. Watership Down is also my friend Mindi’s (Instagram handle: @gowsy33) all-time favourite book, which is actually what prompted me to finally read this greatly loved story. I love dogs and I love sloths and cute little animal videos on facebook, but I wouldn’t say I was a HUGE animal lover, especially when it comes to animal characters in books.

Well, let me tell you… I was NOT expecting this. I was not expecting to develop such an intense affection for these rabbits in Watership Down. When I wasn’t reading the book, I was thinking about them, and I was WORRIED. I was concerned. My boyfriend even knew the ins and outs, my love for Bigwig and Hazel, the hardships these poor rabbits were facing! I feel like this book has really provided me with a newfound empathy for those poor rabbits out in the wild. They just want to survive and live a good life when they have to face so much adversity *cries*

Anyway, let me compose myself again. When I first started reading this book, a number of rabbit names were being thrown at me and I was thinking to myself “I’ll never remember who is who, how am I meant to form a connection with these bunnies”… well, by the end, I could tell you that Bigwig was the brave, strong one (although they were all brave to some degree), and Hazel was the level-headed and intelligent leader, and Fiver was such an adorable little bunny who I kinda want to take home with me… they all had their own little unique traits and personalities that just made them so loveable.

The story and the characters are truly incredible, very quickly I was completely absorbed into the plight this warren was facing. However, a special mention must go to Adams’ writing – HOLY HELL. Some paragraphs completely blew me away – I would find myself reading and rereading certain parts because they were so perfectly crafted and just so TRUE. The descriptions of nature and the flowers – I’ll be honest, I couldn’t tell the difference between many flowers – but these descriptions were fantastic. And I was lucky enough that my edition had some of the most beautiful illustrations that really made the experience even more magical.

This book is a rollercoaster of emotions, I was terrified for these rabbits, I was anxious, I felt tense, I cried tears of joy at points (and also some tears of sadness) – my feelings were really put through the wringer here. And I went into this thinking “Pfft it’s just a story about some rabbits” when really it is SO much more than that. It’s about friendship and bravery and community and making a life for yourself. I’m floored. Completely floored. And I honestly don’t think I’d have ever picked this book up if it wasn’t for bookstagram. So thank you, bookstagram (and Mindi), for enriching my life with this wonderful story about the rabbits on Watership Down. It’s been emotionally trying.


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