Review: Anna Sewell – Black Beauty

This is another book read using the kindle app on my phone. I have to say that it is definitely quite useful to always have a book available, like when I had to wait in the hairdressers for ages while Vicky had her hair done. I’m still not going to back away from my real books though – sorry Cameron!

I have heard this book talked about a lot of tiblack-beauty-anna-sewellmes, and I knew that it was categorised as a children’s classic, but I actually had no idea what it would be about. I had visions of a child being givena new horse and tales of the playful things that they did together, but I was way off the mark.

The book was actually the chronicles of the life of one horse, written from the horse’s point of view. I’ve since found out that it was written by Sewell to highlight the issue of animal cruelty, in particular to horses. Apparently she wrote it for people that owned horses and said the aim of the book was to ‘induce kindness, sympathy, and an understanding treatment of horses’. Well I hope it worked, because I don’t think I could have carried on with any of the practices that she was discouraging after I read this book (like the check rein, used to keep the horse’s head up high but that damages their neck in the process). It’s made more shocking because it’s all being told from the horse’s point of view, so it’s almost like you can feel their pain.

Black Beauty talks us through the stages of his life; born as a care-free colt on a farm with his mum, he moves a few times with varying success until he ends  up working in London with a cab driver. Even though he is first of all paired with the kindest cab driver of them all, this doesn’t last and he ends up being worked almost to death by an unkind and uncaring owner.

Thankfully the book at least ends up on a good point, with Beauty retiring to the country to a couple of lovely girls who promise never to sell him away again. I have to say I was a bit worried about how the book would end, at numerous points during the book it looks like it may not be quite such a happy ending.

I have to say, I found this book quite hard to read. Some of the things that happen in the book are pretty disturbing, and I’m glad now that I never read the book when I was younger – I’m not quite sure how it has ended up defined as a ‘children’s classic’. If you’ve read it, let me know what you think – did you read it when you were a child? Or would you let your children read it?


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