I think this book should be a must read for all school children and then again when they are through with school. ( You never look at rabbits the same again). I think Richard Adams wrote this for his kids for entertainment and to learn a bit about life and that you will never know what you can do if you have the courage to persist.
A small group of rabbits leave their warren in the English countryside when one of them (a small rabbit named Fiver who has the gift of prophecy) foresees bad things on the horizon. The book chronicles their adventures as they seek a place to build a new warren. Under the leadership of Hazel, the band of rabbits faces many obstacles—from how to cross a river to the lack of does to the penultimate battle with a warren run by the evil General Woundwart.
I cannot believe that I didn’t read this book until this year!! Originally published in 1972, Watership Down has been sitting out there my entire life and yet it took me until 2012 to read it. All I ever knew was that it was a book about rabbits. The simplistic book description is also deceiving. Yet it took only an hour of listening for me to realize that I was in the presence of greatness—a true 5 star read. Watership Down was an incredibly satisfying, rich and magical reading experience—the kind of book that transcends age and time. In my opinion, it deserves a place on the list of best books of all time, and it certainly has earned a place on my list of all-time favorite books.
What makes the book so satisfying is that it works on multiple levels and that Adams strikes the perfect balance between reality and magic. Not only will the book satisfy children looking for a gripping adventure tale and rabbit folklore (the book grew out of a series of stories that Adams told his daughters), it will also satisfy an adult reader, with the rich personalities of the rabbits (we all have a Big Wig in our lives, I’m sure) and how well the rabbits’ lives translate into our human lives. Although Adams talks in the introduction about how the book is not an allegory, it is not difficult to see the differences between the leadership approaches of Hazel and General Woundwart.
Perhaps the best choice that Adams made is that, although these are talking rabbits, he makes them grounded in reality. In the introduction, Adams talks about how he never has his rabbits do anything that a real rabbit wouldn’t do. These are not rabbits who build little houses and wear clothes like Peter Cottontail. They are wild and natural rabbits and they live as such. When faced with an obstacle such as how to cross a river, they come up with a solution that felt realistic, plausible and yet seemed like a huge leap of logic for a rabbit, which is why Blackberry (the “smart one”) had to come up with it.
Adams even gives the rabbits their own language (Lapine), which I found myself easily adopting. (Their word for tractor or car is hrududu, which, when pronounced by an awesome reader like Ralph Casham, sounds just like a vehicle engine as interpreted by an animal.) It became commonplace to hear words like silflay (going aboveground to feed) and know exactly what they meant.
Another wondrous touch was the rich folklore and mythology that Adams creates for the rabbits. One of the ways the rabbits keep their spirits up and adapt to their surroundings is by repeating the stories of El-Ahrairah, one of the first rabbits, whose exploits and trickery are woven throughout the book. I adored these stories about El-Ahrairah and enjoyed seeing how the rabbits would adapt the story to their present situation.
The other thing I loved about this book was that Adams doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of life. The rabbits face real danger, including death and injury. Yet these moments are leavened by moments of triumph, peace and sweetness. There were also moments of comic relief (the pidgin talk of the gull Keehar and Big Wig’s take on the world just tickled me). In addition, Adams writes one of the most beautiful and satisfying death scenes I’ve ever read in literature.
Nothing I can write can really capture how wondrous and satisfying and pleasing this book was. If you’ve not read it yet, please get a copy (either in print or on audiobook) and read it as soon as possible. You don’t want to miss this book like I almost did. It is brilliant on so many levels, and I applaud Adams for creating such a wondrous work of literature that hits all the right notes.
ABOUT THE NARRATION
Ralph Cosham was the narrator I listened to, and he was pitch perfect. He captured the voices of each character perfectly—from Pipken’s timidity to Big Wig’s warm-hearted bluster. At 15+ hours, this was relatively long listen but I never once tired of it and could not wait to immerse myself in this world over and over again. It was with a real sense of loss that I finished this book.
This is as perfect as a book can get and I recommend it to everyone. If you haven’t read it yet, I strongly urge you to do so. I shall definitely be reading/listening to this one again, and I cannot wait for my son to be ready for it.
At first I found the odyssey stressful, but when I relaxed and let myself stop worrying, I enjoyed these tough, resourceful little rabbits. When the story was over, I grieved to leave my friends! I will never see rabbits the same again!
The narration was incredible! Bravo!
Yes I loved the story and the Lapin language was charming. The rabbit characters showed respect for each other which seems to be lacking in most of the adventure books I've read lately.
Not necessarily but I looked forward to turning it back on.
Narrator was great! Very soothing voice that easy to listen to.
Bigwig. Courage and continued loyalty to his friends. Stayed on his purpose despite having every opportunity to switch.
Hazel wouldn't eat as much as Bigwig.
Wow! There's a reason why this book has captivated so many! (spoiler) I cried and cried when Bigwig took his stand! Great to see bravery like that.
So much about what Hazel and Fiver stand for is what I would stand for in terms of community and resistance to tyranny.
Adams did what I would like to do in my life--to create a story based on shared experiences with his children ( he began to make the story up by telling it to them) and then embellish it and follow it through to become something that really blesses many.
Just a terrific tale!
This is one of the books that turned me into a devoted reader almost 30 years ago. To be transported so completely by a story and to care so deeply about the fate of a group of rabbits - this is magic and a rare treat. Lucky you if this is your first foray onto Watership Down. If you read it and loved it - give yourself a gift and listen!
In recommending this book--enthusiastically--to my mother (who HATES anthropomorphic stories) I asked her: "did you like 'Charlotte's Web'?"
I can understand the publishing conundrum--a "children's story" that isn't written like a children's story . . . who buys it?
Nonetheless---it's simply an excellent tale. Well-written, engaging . . . I enjoyed it immensely and can't wait until my daughter is a few years older . . . I'll be reading it to her someday.
I would most definitely recommend this book. I read this when I was a kid and decided to listen to it about 25 years later and I'm very glad I did. It is very well written and doesn't
I was first introduced to Watership Down as a young teen. I loved it at first reading and loved it every reading after that. Much can be read elsewhere about the plot and story line and I see no need to rehash what others can state much more eloquently. Suffice it to say, this will always be one of my favorite books. It is timeless and ageless, a beautiful and compelling allegorical novel with surprising depth and drama.
As for the narration, Mr Cosham really delivers in this reading and it is a stellar performance. His characters are perfect and easily distinguished one from the other. In addition, he gives this story the respect and seriousness that is deserves. It may be a story about bunnies, but he treats it like the masterpiece it is.
I cant imagine an audiobook getting any better than this. It has everything: wonderful story and superb narration.
Yes, Sometime in the future, when i run out of other books to listen to, i will most likely listen to this again. His book reminds me of my favorite author's books. I am a Brian Jacques fan, and this has a familiar feel to it. It reminds me of the redwall series. Surprisingly it is not very childish at all. It is a story that people of all ages can enjoy. Before i got into the redwall series, i probably would not have picked this up. I use to interpret books about animals, as being for children. However, if they are written well enough, no matter what a book is about, it can entertain an audience of all ages.
Well as i stated above, i would compare it to the books in the redwall series. If you like books about animals going on adventures, with plenty of action sequences, then this is the book for you.
I would have to say Fiver. It seems to me he gets overlooked at times, not just in the book, but in peoples opinions of their favorite characters as well. I was a little upset, how after they escaped their warren, he kinda took a backseat to bigwig, and hazel. Bigwig was their enforcer/bodyguard, and Hazel was their leader. Yet if it wasn't for Fiver, none of them would even be alive right now. Quite often throughout the book, they continuously ignore Fiver, no matter how many times he is right about his predictions.
I listened to this book while i was at work doing price changes. I only did price changes once a week and it was the only day i was allowed to listen to my own devices while at work so i had to pace myself. I always hated when i got done, because yes, i did want to keep listening. However, if i finished it all in one day, i would not have had anything to listen to the next couple of weeks during that one night doing price changes. And it gets really boring just hanging tags without having something other than music to listen to. However, now i no longer do price changes and just listen to them in my free time at home. So if i was listening now, i would probably have finished it in the first to days instead of over 3-4 weeks span.
The only other thing i can say about this book is, i wish that it was a series. Then i could have more great stories to listen to in the future.