Warhorse by Michael Morpurgo

Warhorse by Michael MorpurgoWarhorse is a powerful story about, surprisingly enough war and horses. Specifically World War I — when horses were still used actively alongside tanks and armored vehicles — and a horse named Joey.

The story is told form the horse’s point of view which is both fascinating and more powerful than I had expected. The horse cannot talk, not even to other horses but is capable of forming powerful friendships with people and animals nonetheless. Joey starts life on a farm, is sold to the British Army at the start of the War and then is passed around through several countries as he is captured and used by French farmers, German soldiers, and finally back to the British Army at the end of the war.

In all those places he touches somebody’s life and makes it better in profound and believable ways.

It feels at times like a grand epic of war and the brutality of fighting at a time when the technology with which people killed one another was changing so rapidly that whole countries got left behind. At other times it is the melancholy tale of a horse and his friends — human and animal — as they struggle to stay connected in a world that is falling apart around them.

Warhorse is for those of us who read horse stories when we were children. It is for those of us who have longed deeply for another life and passed through trials to find it. It is for those of us who find friends and then miss them when life drags us apart and away from each other. It is a story for everybody.

Morpurgo writes with wonderful imagery and never once breaks away from his tight horse’s view of the world. His prose is smooth and powerful and in the end it is just right.

This is a short book so it won’t take much time to read. You won’t regret it.

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