Monday, November 5, 2012

Book Report: Black Beauty

Like all ladies who love horses, I read quite a few horse novels as a girl. While my elementary school chums were reading the Sweet Valley High series and dreaming of the day they'd enter high school, I was tearing through The Saddle Club series, Misty of Chincoteague, King of the Wind (both by Marguerite Henry), and The Black Stallion (Walter Farley), dreaming of the day when I'd be stranded somewhere with a horse as my only companion...

Of course, Black Beauty was among my dream horse novels, but unlike the others, Black Beauty was told from the point of view of Black Beauty himself. The story follows BB from birth to retirement and all the good and abusive owners in between. So heart-wrenching, especially when the horses all seem so sensitive and sensible. And that's Anna Sewell's point. She wrote Black Beauty to combat the idea that horses were something to be used and discarded, worked to the ground and then sent to the knackers. 

Master said, God had given men reason, by which they could find out things for themselves, but he had given animals knowledge which did not depend on reason, and which was much more prompt and perfect in its way, and by which they had often saved the lives of men. John had many stories to tell of dogs and horses, and the wonderful things they had done; he thought people did not value their animals half enough, nor make friends of them as they ought to do. I am sure he makes friends of them if ever a man did. --Anna Sewell

The lesson to be learned from Black Beauty: When it comes to horses, kindness receives kindness. If you love Black Beauty, I'd recommend any of the titles I mentioned at the top of this post. I'll add that Mom especially loved The Black Stallion series--she told me that she read every Black Stallion book they had in the Catholic school library (which was only 7 or so, but Farley has written around 20 Black Stallion books. Amazing!). Now that's a recommendation.

For more on literary horses, check out Monika's Black Beauty bookend project and the embroidered copy of Black Beauty from Penguin Classics. 

This month will be all about novels featuring animals as the main character. So many possibilities!

1. Snapshot: Black Beauty, via RDuJour; 2. Vintage farmhouse gate, via Country Living; 3. Horse and buggy, via Style Me Pretty; 4. Farrier, via Boy en Girl; 5. Stables at the International Riding Academy; 6. Tack room, via Crush Cul de Sac; 7. Lady equestrian, via Don't Let Dreams Always be Dreams; 8. Lady Mary, via Tweedland; 9. Jim Koford, by Shelley Paulson Photography; 10. Bridle, via The Tudor House; 11. Friends, via Once Upon a Time; 12. Friesian mare and foal, via Richard Beal's Blog.

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