Read of the Week: Watership Down by Richard Adams

A special Read of the Week today comes recommended by one of our lovely volunteers, David who assists the Reading Resources team at our Calderstones HQ. He’s chosen Watership Down by Richard Adams.

“There’s terrible evil in the world.” “It comes from men,” said Holly. “All other Elil [rabbits] do what they have to do and Frith moves them as he moves us. They live on the earth and they need food. Men will never rest till they’ve spoiled the earth and destroyed the animals.”

Set in the rural countryside of Berkshire, Watership Down is a much loved novel about rabbits fleeing the destruction of their home, Sandleford Warren, by developers. Fiver is a rabbit with special powers of premonition and through his visions he sees darkness and blood being spilled by huge machines. He warns his brother, Hazel, who alerts other rabbits in the warren – and so begin their adventures. The ‘rebels’ are looking for a new haven that promises fresh, sweet grass and some mates to enjoy their days with. They have many close shaves and there are harrowing and sad parts to this novel that see members of this rebel band of rabbits depleted in one way or another.

Watership Down is about a rabbit’s quest for survival in a hostile world occupied by tyrants, thugs and predators in the form of humans, animals and other rabbits. The rabbits encounter similar themes of life to many humans in today’s world: totalitarianism, immigration, alienation, violence and betrayal, but also love, friendship, and courage.

I think I must have been around ten when I read this novel. I didn’t understand then what totalitarianism and immigration were about. But the book gets better each time you read it; you get different issues from it as an adult than you would as a child.

Like all good stories, Watership Down has a little bit of everything you need to enjoy a good book.

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