- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 5 hours and 7 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Tantor Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: October 3, 2006
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000JCE3DO
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Black Beauty Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
Each chapter of “Black Beauty” tells a simple, compelling story about some stage in the life of Black Beauty or his fellow horses. Each chapter includes an important lesson about how mistreatment or, alternately, proper care affects the well-being and performance of the horses. The author conveys her lessons in a clear and entertaining manner through the voices of the horses themselves. This anthropomorphism might seem gimmicky or sentimental to some, but I think it works effectively to build the reader’s empathy. Except for the animal narration, the book is written in a realistic style. The death of animals from overwork or abuse is presented in a matter-of-fact way that never descends into mawkishness. It’s not lingered on because work must go on for the survivors. You’d have to be a stone not to be moved.
Also moving is the story of the author Anna Sewell. Disabled as a girl, her only way of getting out was riding in a horse-drawn carriage. Her many years of observing the treatment of horses on her trips around town and country led her to publish her observations and recommendations – all cleverly presented through the eyes of a horse.
I enjoyed reading “Black Beauty” very much. It’s a beautifully written tale with a noble purpose. There are many editions of “Black Beauty” on the market. I purchased the Signet Classics edition with the full original text by Anna Sewell and an introduction and afterword. I highly recommend it.
"You are a very good man," said James. "I wish I may ever be like you."
"I don't often speak of myself," said John, "but as you are going away from us out into the world to shift for yourself I'll just tell you how I look on these things. I was just as old as Joseph when my father and mother died of the fever within ten days of each other, and left me and my cripple sister Nelly alone in the world, without a relation that we could look to for help. I was a farmer's boy, not earning enough to keep myself, much less both of us, and she must have gone to the workhouse but for our mistress (Nelly calls her her angel, and she has good right to do so). She went and hired a room for her with old Widow Mallet, and she gave her knitting and needlework when she was able to do it; and when she was ill she sent her dinners and many nice, comfortable things, and was like a mother to her. Then the master he took me into the stable under old Norman, the coachman that was then. I had my food at the house and my bed in the loft, and a suit of clothes, and three shillings a week, so that I could help Nelly. Then there was Norman; he might have turned round and said at his age he could not be troubled with a raw boy from the plow-tail, but he was like a father to me, and took no end of pains with me. When the old man died some years after I stepped into his place, and now of course I have top wages, and can lay by for a rainy day or a sunny day, as it may happen, and Nelly is as happy as a bird. So you see, James, I am not the man that should turn up his nose at a little boy and vex a good, kind master. No, no! I shall miss you very much, James, but we shall pull through, and there's nothing like doing a kindness when 'tis put in your way, and I am glad I can do it."
"Then," said James, "you don't hold with that saying, `Everybody look after himself, and take care of number one'?"
"No, indeed," said John, "where should I and Nelly have been if master and mistress and old Norman had only taken care of number one? Why, she in the workhouse and I hoeing turnips! Where would Black Beauty and Ginger have been if you had only thought of number one? why, roasted to death! No, Jim, no! that is a selfish, heathenish saying, whoever uses it; and any man who thinks he has nothing to do but take care of number one, why, it's a pity but what he had been drowned like a puppy or a kitten, before he got his eyes open; that's what I think," said John, with a very decided jerk of his head.
Black Beauty is a simply but elegantly written fable told from the first "person" point of view of the eponymous horse. It is a delightful story about the lives of horses and their grooms and owners, but it is also an indictment against the unethical treatment of animals and the excessive use of alcohol.
While this is billed as a children's story, there are some delicate subjects which are an integral part of any horse's story. Younger children might find these scenes upsetting. Because of the wonderful lessons imparted on how to treat animals and fellow humans, I'll be sharing this book with my children when they're old enough. The best classics remain relevant long after their writing, and that's certainly true here.