The Plot In Five Sentences Or Less: A black thoroughbred is born on a farm and lives his first days in favorable conditions. As he grows and is given the name Black Beauty, his circumstances change, gradually becoming more grim. Black Beauty finds himself sold from master to master and is ill treated in some of his new homes.
My Take: It was a pleasure to encounter this children’s classic for the first time. I found Black Beauty’s voice to be even and genial under the most trying of circumstances. Some readers may find Black Beauty’s attitude to be cold, distant, or perhaps a bit 19th century-ish, but I appreciated the lack of sentimentalism and the eschewing of pity. To me it drove home the noble character of horses and made even more grievous the wrong done to them by people. My one criticism is that many of the human characters were flat and interchangeable. The power of the story might have been heightened had Sewell given the reader one or two people to get to know deeply. Still, I can understand why this books has lasted.
One Interesting Note About The Author: According to history.com, the novel Black Beauty was written in the final days of Sewell’s life, after she was confined to her home, and published just before her death.