I’m going back in time on this one, because nostalgia has me in its grubby hands today. Does anybody remember those newspapery order forms teachers gave out every couple of months for book ordering? My memory escapes me, but it had a name. It may have been Book Order, but I feel like it should have been more original than that. I used to dogear the flimsy pages and run home to my mother and beg for words.
The only one that made it from the blurb on the order form to my little 10 year old hands to high school and college and my first apartment and now my first home is Watership Down by Richard Adams. I thought I was ordering a book about a journey undertaken by disgruntled rabbits, but really I had themes and ideas much bigger than my fifth grade self. I was holding a novel full of determination, adventure, growth, and the impact of humanity on nature.
Watership Down is a timeless classic and one of the most beloved novels of all time. Set in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage, and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.
Adams creates such a lush and reaching culture in this world of rabbits that includes language, poetry, love, family, and a complex hierarchy that explores leadership and the impact of tyranny. This is a novel that expands every single time I pick it up. It adapts itself to the age of the reader, and in that realm of thinking, it is a book that never loses impact. These are not the average bunnies, and this is not the average adventure novel.