Watership Down by Richard Adams

Published: 1972

Genre: fiction

Length: 474 pages

Setting: the Downs of England, recent past

Interest: Mr. Curiosity said he wanted to read more literature during the coming year. I gave him a couple of choices of middle school appropriate classics and he chose to read this book. I decided I should probably read the book as well so we could talk about it together.

Summary: We follow the adventures of a group of rabbits as they look for a safe place to live. Fiver has seen a vision of his warren destroyed. Only his brother, Hazel, believes him. Hazel is able to convince a few other rabbits to leave the warren. Fiver has a vision of a safe place on top of a hill, so they are looking for that place. The group wants to stop when they find a warren full of sleek, fat, friendly rabbits. Turns out, they’re fed by a man who kills all the predators around, but also snares the occasional rabbit in return. The group is convinced to leave when Bigwig is caught in a snare. They find their safe place on the hill, but now they have to worry about the lack of does. Hazel send a delegation off to a nearby warren, called Efrafa, and then leads a raid on a close farm to free some hutch rabbits. Efrafa is run by a tyrannical rabbit intent on keeping his rabbits, and any nearby rabbits that wander by, hidden and under his control. Hazel’s delegation barely escapes. Even so, Hazel sends a group to the warren to free some does. They use trickery to run away, and even so General Woundwort is able to track them to their warren. The story ends with a fight to save Hazel’s warren.

Final thoughts: A thoroughly delightful book. The writing drew me into the story immediately and I was always worried about whether or not the rabbits would escape whatever fix they were in. Hazel was a good leader to the rabbits. He had plans to keep his rabbits together and was more than willing to look to other rabbits for assistance in carrying out those plans. He even helped other species who offered assistance in return.

Adams was able to make me believe that rabbits have a whole society. Partly it was by sprinkling in rabbit words throughout the text, and partly it was by telling rabbit folk tales (they reminded me of Brer Rabbit stories). We also got to see how rabbit society changed in response to difficult situations, since the two warrens the traveling rabbits visited had some serious environmental problems that were reflected in problems within the warren. If you’ve never read the book, or it’s been a while since you’ve read it, I highly recommend making some time for it in your reading life!

Title comes from: The location Hazel and Fiver found for their new warren.

Reading challenges fulfilled: #52 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!



Filed under Book review

3 responses to “Watership Down by Richard Adams

  1. Hi! I am in the process of re-reading Watership Down, I was eight when I read it for the first time so felt that I should revisit it. Like you, I really love the tales that the rabbits tell each other, it’s probably my favourite aspect of the book. It is a lovely contrast to the action that takes place.
    In case you didn’t know, or if you are interested, the BBC and Netflix are involved in a series based on the books, which I think is being released sometime next year! I’m a firm believer in ‘the book is better’ philosophy, but I always find it interesting to watch the differing interpretations.

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