War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Addition: Paperback, borrowed
Genre: Young adult, history
Rating: 4 out of 5
Joey is a warhorse, but he wasn’t always. Once, he was a farm horse and a gentle boy named Albert was his master. Then World War I came storming through and everything changed. Albert’s father sells Joey to the army where the beautiful, red-bay horse is trained to charge the enemy, drag heavy artillery, and carry wounded soldiers not much older than Albert off of battlefields. Amongst the clamoring of guns and slogging through the cold mud, Joey wonders if the war will ever end. And if it does, will he ever find Albert again?
This is the first book by Michael Morpurgo that I have read. Ladies I work with have seen this at the theatre and loved it, and I thought before I watch the film I will read the book. I have to say, I don’t like horses – they scare me a little bit – but I did enjoy this book, despite that.
The story is narrated by the horse, Joey – which I wasn’t expecting. He tells the reader of his experience at the farm where he is raised by Albert, his experience in France during the war and of the friendships he makes along the way. He sees some awful things in France, a fair amount of death and hurt, but what shines through this book is love – he has people care for him and he develops lovely friendships with many people in the book. He has Albert, the boy who raised him and trained him on the farm; Topthorne, a fellow horse in war with him and Emilie, a little French girl who looks after both him and Topthorne whilst they are camped at her grandfather’s farm. Friendship is the key factor in this book, and it can clearly be seen throughout the book.
This wasn’t a difficult read as it is aimed for young teenagers. The language is simple and it is not a long book – only 182 pages. That said, I did enjoy it and wanted to know what was going happen. This is a good read – it has everything you would want in a book – love, friendship, adventure and gripping story. I don’t think Morpurgo hides the horrors of war. The quote on the back of the book is:
” I saw the grey soldiers ahead of us raise their rifles and heard the death rattle of a machine gun…”
This book does have death and hurt in it, and the effect and reason of war is considered by soldiers and civilians alike. I know this book is read in school and I think the chance to look at war and consider the effects of it is important.
There were some aspects of the books that amused me. I did chuckle about the fact that not only Joey understood English, he also understood German! What a clever horse! Just the fact the story was narrated by the horse entertained me as well!
There were some parts of the story that I didn’t believe. The fact Joey turns up in no-mans land and a German and a Welshman walk out to resolve who will take him I struggled to believe; and Albert finding Joey in France during the war also seemed unrealistic – however, both did make for good reading.
This was an enjoyable and quick read. This is a lovely story of friendship, which a hint of adventure. I’m looking forward to seeing what this is like as film. This book is well worth reading. The good outweighs the bad and I recommend this book.