Watership Down by Richard Adams

Watership Down by Richard Adams This well-known children’s story follows a small group of rabbits who are warned of impending disaster, and set out to form a new warren. The rabbits share a strong and believable culture which includes language, customs, storytelling and religion. On their journey they fend off “the Thousand” (predators) and are forced to use their cunning, endurance and ingenuity to successfully create a new home. The rabbit heroes – Hazel, Fiver and Bigwig learn to rely on their unique strengths in order to overcome the odds: Hazel as the thoughtful, clear-headed leader, Bigwig as the brawn, and Fiver the seer. A surprising number of adventures befall the rabbits during their first year away from the old warren, and the book ends with the subsequent generations being entertained with stories of the brave pioneers.

What the Armchair Critics Thought:
This book was selected in order to revisit a childhood favourite as an adult. We found the story to be a well-told adventure story which kept us turning the pages. Those bunnies sure were busy – as the entire saga takes place over one spring and summer . The themes of leadership, fortitude and teamwork are strongly threaded throughout the book. It is interesting to see the three distinct types of societies that the rabbits develop…the vile, cruel, and controlled dictatorship, the naive, inexperienced yet vulnerable utopians, and the more practical, democratic and liberated community that Hazel-rah’s group pursued and hoped for. We enjoyed the banter between animals and the clever way Adam’s had of inventing pseudo languages/accents for the different critters. Some of us felt the book did not hold up well and were concerned by its purely male viewpoint. The novel does have a strong British point of view and explores male friendship in a similar manner to “The Wind in the Willows.


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