I remember reading Watership Down by Richard Adams when I was a teenager. Years later an animated movie of the book was released. I was not impressed with the movie but knew I had loved the book, recommended it to everyone, and considered reading more by the author (although I never did). Recently I picked up a copy of the book at the local public library book sale. I initially grabbed it for my granddaughter but hesitated giving it to her. I figured I’d reread it before I gave it to her and worried that my fond memories would be disappointed upon revisiting a world that had stuck with me for several decades.
I shouldn’t have hesitated even an instant. Upon reading the book again, I was sucked into the marvelous world Adams created and, unless you hate bunnies (sorry Anya), you may be surprised to find yourself genuinely caring about this small band of rabbits that seek to find a new home. This journey is incidentally led by Hazel who listens to a warning from his younger brother Fiver. They are joined by a few other rabbits from their warren and later joined by others.
Along the way they encounter other rabbits, some more domesticated than others, and face challenges from their numerous enemies. Hazel, as the reluctant hero of the novel, is compassionate and intelligent, earning the admiration of those around him. Sprinkled throughout the novel are stories from the mythology of lupines is told, drawing on creation mythology and the long tradition of the Trickster Rabbit. The entire novel reads like an epic, reminiscent of Homer’s The Odyssey. Find it hard to believe a book about bunnies can aspire to such grandeur? Believe me, it works.
It works well enough that I want to see if my library has a copy of Tales from Watership Down. I wasn’t aware of a second book and I want to live in this world just a little bit longer, if I can.