Monday, January 16, 2017

Guest Post: Watership Down by Richard Adams

My husband, known on my blogs as CPA Boy, recently read this book on my recommendation. I've loved Watership Down since I first read it in the early 1980s.

Here is CPA Boy's review:

    • Watership Down by Richard Adams, published 1972
    • Mr. Adams passed while I was reading his seminal work, on December 24, 2016

    • Watership Down is a story about a subgroup* of rabbits that leave their warren, upon advice of one precognitive rabbit (Fiver) that the current warren is in danger (from Man), to search for a new home and the adventures that follow. Except for the occupants of a farm, who are not identified until the end of the book, all of the characters are anthropomorphic animals, mostly rabbits.
      • * A “group” of rabbits can be called a colony, warren, bury, trace, trip, down, husk and fluffle. Only domesticated rabbit groups are “herds.”
    • The story moves quickly, with one exception. Interspersed chapters are mythological tales told by storyteller rabbits. While interesting, the myths can be skipped. In either case, the search for the perfect warren still moves faster than Ted Mosby’s search for a spouse in "How I Met Your Mother".
    • [SPOILER ALERT] The rabbits encounter two other warrens. The first seems Utopian (except to Fiver), until one rabbit is caught in a snare. The rabbits escape and find the perfect place for their own warren at Watership Down. It is at this point (nearly halfway through the book) that, except for one Utopian warren escapee, the rabbits finally realize that they are all bucks (males). This presents two problems: Does (females) usually dig the burrows that form the warren and does have the kittens (baby rabbits) that will perpetuate the warren.
    • Fortunately, some of the rabbits encounter rabbits from another warren, Efrafa, which is overcrowded. Unfortunately, the Watership Down envoy discovers that Efrafa is a police state intent on assimilation and isolation and will not release any does. The rabbits of Watership Down eventually infiltrate Efrafa, steal many does (who go willingly to escape the police state but are essentially just property) and, with the willing help of a befriended gull and the unwitting help of a farm dog, defend their warren from attack by Efrafa rabbits. Eventually, the Watership Down rabbits and progeny join with the surviving Efrafa rabbits to create a third warren and they all live happily ever after.

    • Watership Down is often cited (and awarded) as a children’s book. Mr. Adams said it was an improvised story told to his young daughters during long car trips. However, rabbits die (naturally, accidentally and in battle) and one rabbit tells another rabbit, in Lapine, a made-up rabbit language, to “eat shit.” Therefore, Watership Down may not be suitable for younger children.
    • Watership Down is a good, fast-paced adventure tale, which I enjoyed. I did not find any deeper meaning and Mr. Adams said that it was never intended to become some sort of allegory or parable. 
    • I would give Watership Down 3½ stars, but the publisher of this blog only allows for whole stars. Therefore, three stars for adult readers and four stars for older children readers.

Thank you, CPA Boy, for sharing your review! We look forward to more of your guest posts.

And if my readers have a book review to share (or just a good recommendation), please contact me!

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