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Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

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The book chosen for April is Black Beauty by Anna Sewell:

Suspenseful, deeply moving tale, narrated from the horse's point of view, follows Black Beauty from his carefree days as a colt through a variety of experiences at the hands of many owners - some sensitive and gentle; others thoughtless and cruel.

 

I hope you'll all join us in reading and discussing the book. :friends0:

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One of the things I like about this book is the arguments the characters have; the long speeches they have which show the views of the time. I especially like the one near the middle somewhere

when two characters talk about "'Tis only ignorance." because I kind of agree with it as well.

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Okay, I went and bought my copy of Black Beauty today.

 

I was vaguely aware of the book (and a movie, I think though I might be confusing it with National Velvet and E. Taylor).

My first thought as the lad from the Information Desk was leading me to the Children's Classics section of the bookstore was, "okay ... I fell for the Book Club Forum April Fool's Joke." Oddly enough, he asked me if I wanted the "adult version" of the book! My eyes opened wide and asked, "er...an adult version about a horse?" I got to laughing at just how silly this sounded and we ended up discussing Ann Rice's Beauty series....yikes!

 

So, here I was faced with the Children's Classics section and I saw the title Anne of Green Gables. Since I'd just read the thread on Member's Blogs I'd read that it was a favorite of one of our members.

So I bought that one too.

 

Inspired by that book blog, I remembered a title that has always sounded interesting, Far From The Madding Crowd. So, I asked the lad to hunt that one down too. Thomas Hardy! I had read Tess of the d'Urbervilles maybe thirty years ago and so figured if it was a favorite, it must be worth a read.

So I bought that one too.

 

Y'all may be pulling a fine prank by saying that a kid's book is the choice for this Reading Circle and I'd relish a fine joke on my behalf. However, I'm a self-professed book 'lady of the night' ~ I'll read anything. So, Black Beauty, Anne of Green Gables, Far From the Madding Crowd and ... The Secret Garden will be my new adventures.

 

And with that, I give fine thanks to this Forum; take me to new worlds and give me common shared experiences. The ladies at the cash register were all a-flutter that I was buying books that they've read many times and loved each and every one!

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I just love reading your posts WoKK.:blush:

 

No not an April Fool. A serious choice. When the book was nominated, it ocurred to me that there was no reason why our younger members should not be part of the reading circle, and this book might encourage them to take part. So I seconded that nomination and I think I made the above point too.. People must have taken it on board, and as it turned out, everyone loves it anyway, most of us having read it in our younger years...

 

I have the secret Garden, which is another childrens' classic on audio, awaiting a listening. I read it years ago, and saw the tv adaptation.

The Thomas Hardy is brilliant, and Anne of Green Gables is also a classic. I have Pollyanna waiting in line (Ebook form this time) so AoGG will have to wait.

 

I hope you get something from all of them. I admire you for being so open minded, and despite feeling stupid, being brave enough to go with it.

 

Yours is the first post I've read this morning, and the content, and the usual humourous style have cheered me up no end ! Thank you:)

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Glad you'll be joining us, WoKK - my own copy arrived today so I'll be starting it as soon as I've finished my current read (Karma by Holly A Harvey). I used to watch the TV series, Black Beauty when I was a kid - absolutely loved it. If I remember correctly, it was essential Saturday morning viewing (along with Follyfoot Farm). Strangely, I never got round to reading the book, so I'm really looking forward to this one!

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I used to love watching Black Beauty and Follyfoot Farm! I've never read Black Beauty, but as a kid the film always made me bawl my eyes out! When I next go to the library I'll be getting a copy

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I see in my copy that Black Beauty was first published in 1877.

 

What was going on in 1877? Here is the wikipedia link to the year, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1877

 

And here is the wiki-link to literature in 1877, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1877_in_literature it's nice to see our book proudly listed!

 

Also ... it is the year that Swan Lake premiered!

http://www.soundventure.com/web/footnotes/episode1.html

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I'll be starting my copy tomorrow, but in the meantime, I've been having a look at the info on the inside cover. Apparently Sewell wrote Black Beauty because she was appalled at the treatment of horses and other animals and wanted people to understand that better treatment and understanding of the animals would lead to the animals behaving better. She died not long after the book was published, having been a very sick woman, and so never lived to see even the beginnings of the lasting impression her work has had on people.

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I'm not sure how much I'm enjoying the slightly preachy style of this book. Every chapter seems to be imparting a lesson: "Treat your horse well and it'll perform better", but it's over and over the same thing. The stories of the other horses are the parts I'm finding more interesting that the story of the titular horse himself.

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What a funny little story; I think I'll see if I can find National Velvet since I kinda thought that's what the book would be about, color me naive.

 

Is it my imagination or do all the creepy characters have creepy names and all the nice characters have robust names? Now, I wish I'd highlighted the peoples names as I'm reading.

 

One thing I should hold the reins on is that I tend to skip over words I don't know and just glean from the context. Since this is a Circle, I think I might serve better by looking up the odd words.

 

One of the grand things that appeals to me is that this is indeed: a classic.

I can safely mention it in conversation at work and know that there will be several people who've read it and we can have a chat about the book and it will lead on to more bookish areas. This is a nice advantage being on such a journey because telling someone that I'm reading Black Beauty, I am sharing something with someone who's been down that lane and it puts them in the saddle as an expert and they feel they can guide me. This is awesome for me since, typically, I am the teacher to my students.

 

Sadly, no one has told me I have a "soft mouth." How cool would that be?

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My edition is illustrated!

It's published as a Penguin Classic and illustrated by Charlotte Hough. If I were to guess, they'd be "pen and ink" drawings; not quite abstract but with a broad enough stroke to allow you to read into the drawing or infer meaning from the context of the narrative.

 

Personally, I think it's charming.

If I were King of the World, all books would have illustrations tucked in, even it they were symbols or silhouettes or a suggestion of an element in the story. I just feel that it adds to the presentation of the material and, when done well, is very satisfying.

Kinda like adding butter to your popcorn or icing on the cake - it enhances the experience.

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I was just having a look at what Wikipedia has to say about Black Beauty and noticed that in the first edition, it actually states "Translated from the original Equine by Anna Sewell", which I think is rather lovely. It was also not originally intended as a children's novel, but aimed at people who worked with horses.I wonder, was Sewell the first to make the adult/children double crossover we see so often nowadays with the likes of the Harry Potter books or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon?

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That is an interesting idea about crossover.

Now I'm wondering if it was one of the first books written from an animals point of view. If so, very cool and a break-through for literature. Written in 1877, could Black Beauty be one of the first?

 

I'll pose the question to the forum - which is the earliest book written from an animal's point of view?

I'll jog your memory with some books that are more recent:

Ben and Me (1953) -- a mouse who helps Ben Franklin.

Redwall (1986) -- all animal characters.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (1972) -- the tale of a field mouse.

The Jungle Book (1894) -- which includes Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, a mongoose who saves the day.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902)

Animal Farm (1950ish)

Tarzan (1912)

 

I suppose we can't ignore Parables like The Tortoise and the Hare (600 BC) but the intent was different, so let's set those aside.

 

"Translated from the original Equine by Anna Sewell"
I agree, kell, that is quite lovely, a perhaps a unique for it's time device in literature.

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I do not know if i am brave enough to read this i was a horsey girl and read all the horsey books and remember being a bit traumatised by this, so i am not sure!!!

 

If i see it cheap then i might be tempted :blush:

 

Although i remember my mum made me watch Old Yeller and i have never forgiven her for that either

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I do not know if i am brave enough to read this i was a horsey girl and read all the horsey books and remember being a bit traumatised by this, so i am not sure!!!
I actually found it quite an uplifting read, which I wasn't really expecting. I do hope you'll decide to give it a try, as I don't think you'll regret it.

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I have just finished reading Black Beauty. I am amazed at how much I remembered, given that it's forty years since I last read it. Poor Ginger! I remember being shocked by her death when I was 12, and it caught me out again.

I know what Kell meant about the same message being given in each chapter, but I think there was a reason for that. Unless you make it strikingly obvious some people never include themselves in a given illustration (in this case cruelty to horses). So Anna Sewell thought up as many different examples of cruely, (the reasons behind it and the results of it) as possible, as a way of driving the message home to those who thought it didn't apply to them. I was amazed by the number of things that could go wrong when the horses were cabbying. A real eye opener to how life was lived, not just for the horses.

A good read which I enjoyed. Black Beauty was such a sweetie and thought ill of no one if he could help it. Funny though...he never had a girlfriend!:D

 

Pp

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I finished Black Beauty a couple of days ago (my first reading circle novel). Not a bad read, but I wouldn't read it again. I have to agree with you Kell when you talk about it being a bit preachy. I got a bit sick of 'horse meets bad person, horse meets good person, horse meets bad person' etc. It was very repetitive in that way. When there were actually things happening, like the fire, I enjoyed it, but otherwise it was a bit tedious.

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I think you have to remember that at the time it was written, there were very few ways to communicate a message to 'the masses'. It had to be succinct and very clear in order to get the message across to a populace who were generally not very well educated, and who had little regard for animal welfare. Heck, many didn't care about children, so animals were very low on the list of priorities, hence the repetition of the message throughout the book, and the 'ramming it down your throat' tactic, although I think Sewell did it in the nicest possible way.

 

Pp

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I started this book a few days ago - I'm really enjoying it, even though I'm not all that into horses (truth be told, I'm a bit scared of them :) ). I read it when I was a youngster, and the only thing I remember about it is poor Ginger dying. I'm not up to that part yet, but I'm dreading it. It had quite an impact on me. I'm about 3/4 of the way though - just up to Captain's story of the Crimean war.

 

I think it has a lot of wise things said in the book. I too liked the argument about ignorance; there are plenty of other "quotables" too.

I'm glad I picked it up for a re-read. ;)

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At the time we voted this as a possible book circle candidate, at the back of my mind I thought that folk wouldn't go for it as it's considered a childrens' book. It turns out that many of us have got quite a bit out of it. The social history alone was worth the read. I had no idea that horses were used for all those different purposes. If I had given it any thought I would have realised, as they were the main transport for most people, trains still being fairly new. But Sewell's descriptions opened a whole new interest and learning about that period.

Definitely worth the read.

 

I remembered Ginger dying too and dreaded it. Still felt shocked when I reached that bit! LOL

Pp

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Just finished it - so glad it had a happy ending, and Black Beauty was reunited with Joe Green. :) Sad about Ginger though - that horse suffered pretty much her whole life. ;)

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I got this for my birthday in July. I'd give it 7/10.

 

Like Angerball, I was quite sad about Ginger as well!

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