• Black Beauty

  • By: Anna Sewell
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 5 hrs and 7 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (903 ratings)

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Black Beauty  By  cover art

Black Beauty

By: Anna Sewell
Narrated by: Simon Vance
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Editorial reviews

Sewell's classic story, enjoyed by generations of families, is given fine treatment in this audio production. Black Beauty goes from a peaceful, trouble-free existence to horrible treatment with his new owners when an accident necessitates that he be moved. His spirit perseveres through this time with the cruel men his mother warned him about as a foal as he finds his way back to a happier life. Sewell's tale, written as an outcry against animal mistreatment, takes on new life in Simon Vance's narration. His voice carries enough gravitas to easily convince both younger and older listeners of the importance of care for animals. His narration makes a heartfelt story into a listening experience for the family to share together.

Publisher's summary

In this classic story, set in Victorian England, a well-born colt tells his life story, from his early years in a pleasant meadow to his experiences as an elegant carriage horse and then an overworked cab horse. As he passes from one owner to another, some gentle, some cruel, Black Beauty tells a moving tale of an animal's perspective on the human world.
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©2005 Tantor Media, Inc.

What listeners say about Black Beauty

Average customer ratings
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Enjoy the classics with help from narrator.

What made the experience of listening to Black Beauty the most enjoyable?

I bought this book for kindle but had not read it. When I decided to use the narrated app I was sorry I had waited so long. I am a rather slow reader and really enjoy this way of reading.

What other book might you compare Black Beauty to and why?

Have to delve deeper into the classics.

Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Age 76 & this is the first time reading this book. I both laughed and cried.

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10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A favorite

One of my all time favorite stories. I'd read it a million times as a child, in all it's harsh reality, and listening to it was a new experience. Highly recommended.

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10 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A Treat for Horse Lovers

Considering I've always been a lover of animals and badly wanted to ride horses as a little girl, I'm surprised that I hadn't gotten around to this book much earlier in life. Originally published in 1877, the story follows Black Beauty—so named by one of his owners—from his carefree youth as a colt in a farm while still under his mother's tutelage, and through the better part of his life, as he passes from one owner to the next with conditions often going from bad to worse to unbearable, notably when he is forced to (over)work as a cab horse in London. Black Beauty narrates his story in the first person, and while I enjoyed having the horse's point of view, I was annoyed by the extent of anthropomorphising, with our protagonist seemingly able to understand human speech and reasoning, and have a wide range of all too human feelings too, which might be acceptable for a young reader, but not for this adult.

Interestingly enough, it seems that Sewell did not originally write the novel for children. The story makes repeated allusions to the mistreatment of animals, and horses in particular, and seemed in parts overly moralistic, though as another reader pointed out to me, it was the first work of fiction advocating the humane treatment of horses. According to wikipedia "[Sewell] said that her purpose in writing the novel was "to induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses"—an influence she attributed to an essay on animals she read earlier by Horace Bushnell (1802–1876) entitled "Essay on Animals". Her sympathetic portrayal of the plight of working animals led to a vast outpouring of concern for animal welfare". Recommended reading for animal and horse lovers.

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Love Simon Vance

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, I have! Kids need to hear this!

Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Awesome.......Girl with the Dragon tattoo entire series!

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Many! I loved all the series

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4 people found this helpful

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Kindness is always better than cruealty

Simon Vance is always worth listening too I have listened to many of his narrations through the years and never been disappointed The story is good and enjoyable I don't understand how this would be called a children s book though I found the subject matter a little bleak and distressing. It was good to understand something about the late 1800 hundreds when most transportation was by horses. I also believe that the way a person treats animals is a big reflection on ones character.this is an enjoyable book but maybe not for a child unless the child is a horse lover..

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3 people found this helpful

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Great Classic. Excellent Narrator.

Listened to it in one sitting. Loved it!! Simon Vance is a very good narrator.

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3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Classic Children's story

Any additional comments?

This book seems to make a case for animals right, before such cases existed. The author was really trying to change the way horses where treated, which is largely applicable today. However it is still a decent if not highly contrived story.

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Simon Vance is a Treasure

I’ve been aware of this book since a child, as every school age girl seemed to be carrying it around and sighing over it. I was never interested in reading it back then, after all, girls had cooties so why would I want to read their books?

Now that I’m older and fairly certain girls don’t have cooties, I thought I would give this a try.

I found it to be a charming, though often melancholy little story that reads almost like the diary of a horse more than a novel. The story is rather simple in that it is literally just an account of all of Black Beauty’s owners, and the good and more often bad times of his life. He is shuffled from owner to owner, but in the end he finds a happy home.

I can see how this could be a very affecting book to read as a child, as it could certainly nurture empathy towards animals.

Simon Vance was excellent of course. He's incapable of a bad performance.

An enjoyable and easy read that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone, children included of course.

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A wonderful classic.

A wonderful classic brought to life. Made this Equestrian think about horses better. Loved this book, and may listen again!

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Great from start to finish

A great reading of a classic story. My daughter loved the voices, and pestered me to let her keep listening until the end.

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