Book Review: Watership Down

waterhsip-downWho knows how I’ve managed to miss this book for so long.  It’s just my sort of thing.  And I’m a little annoyed that nobody bothered to mention it to me before now!  But oh well, at least I’m caught up.  I finally read Watership Down, which was not at all about a naval battle, as the title made me assume.  It was all about bunnies.

Dan can’t figure out why anyone would want to read a 500 page novel about bunnies.  But they’re very complex creatures, or so I’ve come to learn after reading this book.  But I also realized how much we have to learn from reflecting on nature.

The Psalmist tells us “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (19:1).  All creation tells about its creator.  In the New Testament, we find out that we can’t claim ignorance about God, because all of nature is positively shouting all kinds of truth about him: “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

So, why should it be surprising that a book about rabbits, faithful to the way rabbits live in nature, shouldn’t reveal a lot about ourselves and about our God?

I honestly don’t know much about this author, aside from the preface to the book.  I didn’t do my homework for this one, since our plans for an upcoming trip to Italy are taking up all my spare time.  But I do know that the author did a lot of research about rabbits, so I expect that his representation of rabbits and their daily lives was fairly accurate, minus all that talking stuff.

The plot is fairly simple, one that a child could understand.  Which is why the book could be mistaken for a Harry Potter length children’s book.  But it’s not merely a children’s book because adults have much to gain from reading it.

A group of rabbits break off from a warren to form their own warren but discover they have one huge problem: no female rabbits (does).  The entire book surrounds the conflict in finding does. 

Along the way, we learn about rabbit tradition and the different types of warrens that they encounter.  There are different leadership styles, ones that mirror human kind, of course.  And there are also admirable, sacrificial acts by brave leaders on behalf of the weaker members of the warren. 

One of the most fascinating aspects of the book was the introduction of rabbit language, terms that only rabbits use to describe things that only rabbits need to describe.  For example, the rabbits have a unique word for the time when they leave the rabbit holes to go outside.  It’s a word only a rabbit would need of course.  The words are gradually woven into the story and soon, you find yourself comfortable with the rabbit language. 

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but that’s next on the list, as soon as I coerce Dan to read the book.

Now if only there were an equivalent book about cats!


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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’ve seen this book hundreds of times, even thought it was a great title, yet I did not know it was about rabbits. Before I read it, tell us if Dan reads it or not. We men need to stick together.

    AL: HA! What is it with you men and this book? I’m leaning on him something fierce to try to convince him. We’ll see. I’ll report back if I ever get him to read it. I know he’ll like it…

  2. I remember hearing a speaker once who pointed out a Proverbs verse about rabbits chewing their cud…and that he thought that was an error until he owned rabbits and learned they do re-chew their droppings at night. Weird little detail, but one that illustrates how a small detail can be trusted to be accurate.

    I haven’t read the book either, now I am eager to get it.

    AL: There’s a bit in there about chewing their “pellets,” and I wondered if they were talking about their droppings…guess I was right. Yuk. I think you’ll enjoy it. But don’t tell Tiggy. He’ll call you a traitor.

  3. I love this book. I read it as a teenager and it left a lasting impression on me. How the author gets into the minds of the rabbits (imaginatively) is amazing.

  4. I heart this book. It works both on a few different levels which makes it interesting to multiple ages of readers.

    AL: I totally agree with you. Dan is finishing reading it right now, and I have the movie on hold to watch when he finishes. Dan has told me that he thinks its a very “political” book.

  5. Now you need to read Tales From Watership Down.

    AL: Thanks for the recommendation! It’s on my library hold list now!”

  6. As promised, Dan gives the male response to Watership Down #fb

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