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  1. Black Beauty

    I decided to read this because it was free on Kindle.My only real knowledge of Black Beauty came from snippets of the Thames TV show of the mid-70s which made it seem like Black Beauty had various weekly adventures (essentially a horse version of the Littlest Hobo). But actually, the book is a life story, one narrated by none other than the horse (very original for 1877) and has short pithy chapters which presumably explains why it became so popular with children. It's essentially the tale of all the people that own Black Beauty through his life and the various jobs he has as a working horse.Most of the book is rather tame and there's some obvious moralising about the ill-treatment of horses during the Victorian era. Apparently, the descriptions of cruelty caused by 'bearing rein' (keeping the horses head up) enraged readers so much that it was quickly made illegal as a result of the book.I enjoyed the chapters where Black Beauty becomes a London cab horse and dashes around the various streets from station to station or picks up drunken revelers at 1am. And obviously the cruelty is not nice to read but it's generally kept to a minimum without ever getting too dark. But more than once Sewell has a bad human character get his comeuppance for such behavior. Oh, and there seems to be a great deal of criticism regarding the over consumption of alcohol. And one thing I didn't like was how each new owner gave Black Beauty a new name; perfectly understandable why they would but it occasionally meant hearing a name (Jack for example) and thinking... who the hell is Jack? before realising it was Black Beauty's newest name. But the book has a happy ending. And Black Beauty even ends the book with his original name.The book wasn't anything spectacular but it was perfectly fine. And suffice it to say, it's difficult to read without hearing that damn 70s theme tune constantly playing in your head 7/10
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