Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Book Review: War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

A powerful tale of war, redemption, and a hero's journey.

In 1914, Joey, a beautiful bay-red foal with a distinctive cross on his nose, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges toward the enemy, witnessing the horror of the battles in France. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey's courage touches the soldiers around him and he is able to find warmth and hope. But his heart aches for Albert, the farmer's son he left behind. Will he ever see his true master again?

My Review:
Albert's dad buys Joey as a drunken mistake but Albert devotes himself to caring for the horse. When his dad sells Joey to the army as a horse for warfare, Joey ends up in the trenches in FRance and Albert is determined to join up as soon as he can to track down his horse.

This was a good story. For those of you who have read Black Beauty, you will be familiar with the story being told from the horse point of view. Joey talks about his love for Albert and his fear of being taken away by strangers. The story tells of his experiences as a British cavalry horse and a German medical horse. Joey develops a friendship with another horse and with French civilians and soldiers who all try to care for him as the war ploughs on.

I enjoyed the close bond between Albert and Joey and the way the horse connected to both British and German soldiers who briefly owned him as well as French civilians who looked after him. The horse was a neutral character for telling the story from all sides. It was extremely balanced and there were no bad guys in this book, just weary people who wanted it all to end so they could just go home. I liked that balance. British soldiers cursing the constant charges across no man's land, Germans wondering why the British keep sending men and horses to certain death, civilians wondering how they will survive another winter. We even see a scene where a Welsh and German soldier bond over Joey which reminded me of the Christmas ceasefire in the trenches. It was well written and gives you an insight into what these men were feeling, so far from home and how pointless all the death and destruction was.

It is suitable for most ages. Yes there are descriptions of death and injury but not in horrific graphic detail. It has a couple of sad events in it as you would expect but some good moments too. The copy I have has beautiful colour illustrations throughout which really added to the story for me.

Overall, an enjoyable and educational book about World War 1.
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