Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Black Beauty

Black Beauty. Anna Sewell. 1877. 245 pages.

The first place that I can well remember was a large pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it. Some shady trees leaned over it, and rushes and water-lilies grew at the deep end. Over the hedge on one side we looked into a plowed field, and on the other we looked over a gate at our master's house, which stood by the roadside; at the top of the meadow was a grove of fir trees, and at the bottom a running brook overhung by a steep bank.

Black Beauty is such a GREAT book. I really LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it. Which surprises me, I must admit since I generally don't like animal stories, and I'm even more reluctant to read horse books than dog books. But. I loved it. There was something timeless and wonderful about it. I can see why it became a classic, I hope it remains a beloved classic. 

Black Beauty is a great narrator, a great character. I really came to care for this horse right from the start. I had a feeling that life wouldn't always be so easy and gentle for him. I knew that they'd be dark days and nights ahead. And that proved true. As he is sold from one owner to another to another to another to another and so on. But he's so very, very, very good and understanding and wise. There were so many times he proved himself noble and worthy. And Black Beauty wasn't the only character I loved. I loved so many of the human characters too! John Manly, for example, comes to mind, as does James Howard, Joe Green, Jerry Barker, Farmer Grey, Farmer Thoroughgood, etc. Ginger's story is touching, as well, Ginger being one of many horses Black Beauty befriends.

Black Beauty also had a LOT to say about society, about virtues and vices. It had a LOT to say in regards to how animals should be treated--with respect, kindness, understanding, with dignity. It had a LOT to say about how humans should treat one another too. I was surprised at how deep this book was, how wise.

My favorite quotes:
“There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham.”
“Only ignorance! only ignorance! how can you talk about only ignorance? Don't you know that it is the worst thing in the world, next to wickedness? -- and which does the most mischief heaven only knows. If people can say, `Oh! I did not know, I did not mean any harm,' they think it is all right.”
“My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.”
 “If a thing is right it can be done, and if it is wrong it can be done without; and a good man will find a way.”
“We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.” 

Read Black Beauty

    •    If you want to read one of the best children's books ever
    •    If you're a fan of animal stories, horse stories,
    •    If you enjoy historical fiction
    •    If you enjoy classics

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Debi said...

I have to admit that not only have I never read this classic, I've never really had any desire to. But Becky, I do believe you just changed that! :)

Shirley said...

Black Beauty has long been a favourite of mine, ever since receiving a copy from my grandparents one year for Christmas. I still have that original copy, and others too that I have acquired over the years. If there is a horse lover, a lover of animals, a person interested in sociology; this is a must read! I truly cherish this book!

Anonymous said...

It was too sad!

Unknown said...

Aww another great childhood read.
My latest post is of a childhood favorite as well. Its nice revisiting the past every once in awhile
Please visit my post oh my childhood favorite and enter a chance to win a copy.

Thanks for your great posts.