A lot of the books in our family library are secondhand; we love to frequent school book sales, garage sales and second hand bookshops. Some time in the last year or so we picked up a previously loved copy of Watership Down, which it shocked me to realize I had never read. I must add this title to our list of the “very best family books”, which I first wrote about last year.
What a wonderful book. We started it last month, and read a chapter (occasionally two) every night. It’s the kind of book that keeps us reading every night, as there is a huge appetite for this book. It’s beautifully written and gripping in every way that a good book should be, a true odyssey. We are so caught up in the lives of Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig and their comrades that we’re feeling a little rabbit-like ourselves, which works nicely in the burrowing winter months.
It’s not surprising that this book by Richard Adams is such a good choice for families, as its genesis was in the stories he improvised and told his two little girls on family drives. The book only came to be after his daughters pestered him to write the stories down; it was rejected by 13 publishers before some smart editor saw the light and published this gem.
We’re into the final chapters of the book and wishing it wouldn’t end. It’s often tempting to try to find the same kind of book after such an experience, but I expect we’ll jump into something very different (like Cosmic by the wonderful Irish writer Frank Cottrell Boyce).