Watership Down by Richard Adams
There's no way I can do justice to this book, 'Watership Down' was one of my favorites growing up. My mother's copy is giving up the ghost - even the rubber bands holding it together are aging out - so I'll be hunting for a nice edition of it soon, because I'm going to be reading it again. The book is an epic travel saga, a high fantasy, a folklore primer, incorporates immersive and enchanting nature writing, and includes my personal favorite fictional language of all time (Lapine)
I have read this often, but this last time around it was a read-aloud with my husband. With one long hiatus we made it though in good time. As a reader I have a terribly limited repertoire of voices (Hyzenthlay and Thethuthinnang ending up being played by Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davis), but it was so much fun to experience this book again. My husband's experience had been limited to the scarring animated film from the 70s.
The characters are also amazing, while Adams made an effort to keep the rabbits rabbit-y with their perceptions, walking patterns, habits, and the like, they have a diverse range of voices (when I'm not reading aloud - my British accents are limited to posh, posher [Claire Foy], Nigel Thornberry, Christopher Lee, and Dick Van Dyke as Bert in 'Mary Poppins') that easily lets the reader keep up with the large cast.
Adams produced a follow-up many years later that was a collection of additional rabbit folklore and a story-arc about Hazel and co.'s experience with a female Chief Rabbit and her warren. It wasn't impressive when I first read it, and it didn't hold up when I tried a few of the stories this past week to get over our Watership withdrawal. The big point missing was the nature writing.
And 'Watership Down' has one of the best endings of all time, there's no room for more.
Next: 'Tales From Watership Down'