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War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

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parthianbow
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War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Post by parthianbow » Fri September 9th, 2011, 3:43 pm

It's funny how some books can pass one by. War Horse first came out in 1982, when I would have fallen squarely into the age bracket it is aimed at (I'd hazard 9-12 year olds, although I hasten to add that it's a great read for any age). I feel slightly embarrassed in admitting that I hadn't heard about it until the book was transformed into a play in London's West End. I haven't got around to reading it until now - and I was prompted by the wonderful deadline that I was going to see the play a few days ago. I wanted to read the book first, so I started and finished it in one evening.

What a treat. War Horse is a gentle, and incredibly moving tale, told from the point of view of a horse. Not a premise one would think effective, yet it is - deeply so. As others have mentioned, the device allows Morpurgo to tell the story of World War One from both sides, without taking sides. This is a beautiful story, well-written, engaging and lyrical. I adored it. As a former veterinarian who doesn't like horses, I never ever thought I'd say that of a book about a horse! Bravo Michael Morpurgo! Roll on the play, and more of Mr Morpurgo's books, which I will be looking up and purchasing. The one about Grania O'Malley, the Irishwoman and pirate, looks particularly interesting.

Five solid stars out of five.

Postscript: the play was absolutely astonishing. The best stage presentation I've ever seen. And now we have Spielberg's version to look forward to as well. Happy days!
Ben Kane
Bestselling author of Roman military fiction.
Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

http://www.benkane.net
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fljustice
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Post by fljustice » Fri September 9th, 2011, 4:16 pm

[quote=""parthianbow""]Postscript: the play was absolutely astonishing. The best stage presentation I've ever seen. And now we have Spielberg's version to look forward to as well. Happy days![/quote]

We saw this a couple of weeks ago at Lincoln Center in NYC and were enthralled. The mechanical horses (and other animals--loved the goose!) took on such life that several people in the audience cried out when
I'll have to look up the book. Thanks, Ben!
Faith L. Justice, Author Website
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
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Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri September 9th, 2011, 6:47 pm

Sold! I love animal POV's, if well done. Watership Down got me hooked -- an almost-fantasy feel to it. Loathe the anthromorphic critters-in-clothes stuff like Beatrix Potter, tho -- and it was always the part I didn't like about some of the Narnia books, tho Lewis got away from that in my favorite, The Horse and His Boy.

Why didn't you like horses? Other than the potential to put you in hospital, that is.

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parthianbow
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Post by parthianbow » Thu September 15th, 2011, 8:50 am

@MLE: I got thrown off a horse when I was a kid. Never went back to them until I had to study them as part of my veterinary degree. As you're probably well aware, they know damn well when a person isn't confident around them, and act accordingly. Also many horse owners in Ireland and the UK tend to be either non-payers when it comes to bills, or a teeny-weeny bit mad, or both. I quickly decided I didn't ever want to see to any horses when working as a vet.
Ben Kane
Bestselling author of Roman military fiction.
Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

http://www.benkane.net
Twitter: @benkaneauthor

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Posts: 3564
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu September 15th, 2011, 2:26 pm

I just finished War Horse -- a quick, fun read. Hard to make the trenches of WWI light enough for a YA book, but sticking to the horse's POV did it.

I agree about horses knowing when you aren't confident, Ben, but it isn't ornryness --it's fear. Horses are always looking for clues about danger nearby, and if they smell that fear-adrenaline on your skin, it makes them think there's some predator nearby, and they are instantly ready to do whatever it takes to flee. In which process you would be a liability.

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Rowan
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Post by Rowan » Mon September 19th, 2011, 12:57 pm

I think this has been made into a film as well.

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