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Book Review: Black Beauty By Anna Sewell

Image depicting the book review of black beauty

Here is a book review. ‘Black Beauty’! What comes to your mind?

If one does not look at the illustration given on the cover of the book ‘Black Beauty’, one would think that this is a story of a woman, who despite having unorthodox looks and colour, is beautiful. It is when one lays a hand on it, one realises that this is an autobiography of a horse who talks about his life as a work animal, suffering through the callous and bad treatment of some of his owners.

Set in the 1900s, the start of the story depicts him as a foal listening to his mother’s sermons to be careful of the reputation that his family enjoys and be a good horse to his owners. When the story moves a little further, it shows how ‘Black Beauty’ is shifted from one owner to another and gets treated differently each time. Why ‘Black Beauty’ was beaten and thrashed by some of his owners, and how he was able to sustain all that pain is something my mind is still intrigued about? After all, ‘Black Beauty’ was a beautiful horse with a good temper and nice paces.

Through this story, I was also able to know about Black Beauty’s friends, and that most of them were ill-treated and not cared for. That life of animals was not easy even during the time when the story was set!

A great story, indeed, though I was unhappy for the horses who did not receive good treatment in the story. The plot and the story structure were good. The characters well-drawn. I also liked the flow in which ‘Black Beauty’ described his life…. right from the time, he was a foal, to when he was a work animal, and to the time when he, after almost 20 years of service, goes back to his first owner, Joe Green, to rest. The fact that the story had multiple settings was another plus point. The author ‘Anne Sewell’ used a rich vocabulary throughout the book, and I learnt a good number of new words through it. Sewell also made use of onomatopoeias, similes and included dialogue writing to make sure that the reader is hooked on to the story, and not get bored.

I have never seen a time when people used animals extensively as means of transport, but I do know that they are still ill-treated, shot down, hunted, eaten and their skin and other parts used for making things for human consumption.

All I can say is that I do care for the animals just the way some of the masters did for ‘Black Beauty’ in the story. I do not engage animals or keep them with me for pleasure. I believe in them living in their own habitat. Let us not kill them but love them is what I get to learn from the autobiography besides learning several other things.

Read another book review here: Book Review: ‘The Crims: Crime Runs in the Family’


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Anshuman Nagpal

5, Pathways World School, Gurugram, Haryana

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