Some time ago I read ‘Duncton Wood’ by William Horwood, and as I’ve said before I remember reading this book and enjoying it when I was younger, but now that I’m older I was less keen. One of the reasons for this was the length. When I was younger that didn’t bother me, in fact the longer the better since that meant I could stay longer ‘inside’ the book. Now, and perhaps it is because of re-reading the book, I was less thrilled and felt that the book had been dragged out longer than need be. It was therefore with a slight sense of trepidation that I picked up my old battered copy of ‘Watership Down’. It has been probably about twenty years since I last read this book and I was afraid that re-reading it might alter the fond memories I had of the book.
I needn’t have worried. Perhaps the mark of a great book is the joy to be found re-reading it and discovering new things and new pleasures. Perhaps, it is credit to the author who made the story just long enough, avoided too much sentimentality and who wrote a great story. The fact that the characters are rabbits does not disguise the fact that the challenges they face and over-come are human. We all face threats and problems and have to find solutions if we are to move on.
One thing that I noticed more with this re-reading is Richard Adam’s love of the English countryside beyond the obvious use of plants for the characters’ names. The seasons, the sounds and the smells help bring the book to life. Another thing I discovered is that Richard Adams is now 94 and hopefully still hale and hearty. Long may that continue.
When writing my book reviews I don’t say much about the plot. I don’t particularly want to spoil it for anyone picking it up for the first time. I first read my Nan’s copy sometime in the late 70s or the very early 80s. I remember being very proud that she let me borrow the book and then the enjoyment of reading it. My own copy has a still from the animated film, which I remember watching at the local cinema and being a touch disappointed with. I couldn’t quite understand the need to change the plot, it simply doesn’t need it, although the animation was rather good. Another thing my book has is an ‘official’ Watership Down bookmark that I made. It was rather sweet to find it and realise how much I enjoyed this book.
Curiously though I’ve never read any other Richard Adams’ books. Perhaps I ought to.