When God Was a Rabbit

When God Was a Rabbit

4.2 37
by Sarah Winman
     
 

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When God Was a Rabbit is the story of a memorable young heroine, Elly, and her loss of innocence; a magical portrait of the pull and power of family ties, of loss and life. From Essex and Cornwall to the streets of New York, from 1968 to the events of 9/11, When God Was a Rabbit follows the evolving bond of love and secrets between Elly and her

Overview

When God Was a Rabbit is the story of a memorable young heroine, Elly, and her loss of innocence; a magical portrait of the pull and power of family ties, of loss and life. From Essex and Cornwall to the streets of New York, from 1968 to the events of 9/11, When God Was a Rabbit follows the evolving bond of love and secrets between Elly and her brother, Joe, and her increasing concern for her best friend, Jenny Penny, who has secrets of her own. Funny, quirky, utterly compelling, and poignant, too, When God Was a Rabbit heralds the start of a remarkable new literary career.

Editorial Reviews

Henry Alford
Remarkably, When God Was a Rabbit never feels melodramatic or unkind to its characters. Much of this has to do with Winman's mastery of tone: the narration is dry-eyed but glinting…Winman has an authorial tendency to pick at life's proverbial scabs. But while her plot traffics heavily in grim incident, she maintains a winning proportion of whimsy throughout. At the very least, she's created the most amusing and emotionally satisfying work of rabbit deism to come down the pike in a long time.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Winman debuts with a heartbreaking story of the secrets and hopes of a sister and brother who share an unshakable bond. Elly and her older brother, Joe, appear to be just like all the other kids in mid-1970s Essex, U.K., but, as is often the case, shocking secrets lurk below the surface for the siblings and Elly's best friend, Jenny Penny—one has been sexually abused, another has an alcoholic and promiscuous mother, another is homosexual—and the weight of bearing each other's traumas erupts in hard to watch ways. As the years go on, each moves forward; for Elly and Joe, this is more easily accomplished, as their family moves away from Essex and Joe's secret is brought to light, relief Elly doesn't receive until much later. As the story winds through time and across the Atlantic, the trio and their families are rocked by 9/11, leading to a final twist that strains belief before settling into acceptable inevitability. Winman shows impressive range and vision in breaking out of the muted coming-of-age mold, and the narrative's intensity will appeal to readers who like a little gloom. (May)
From the Publisher

“No bare-bones plot summary can do justice to this wonderfully wise and compellingly readable tale of love and friendship in all their forms, of family uncircumscribed by biological bonds, and of loss worse than death. A remarkable first novel, worth savoring.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Winman's debut boasts one of the more endearingly unconventional families in a while. A freshly rendered tale of growing up and living in the world by a late-starting author with a bright future.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Affecting and original.” —Library Journal

“Winman shows impressive range and vision in breaking out of the muted coming-of-age mold, and the narrative's intensity will appeal to readers who like a little gloom.” —Publishers Weekly

“Sarah Winman has written this book in the exact way events in a childhood--and a life--accrue, and I've never seen anyone able to do that so well. Brilliant, funny, and moving, When God Was a Rabbit is a captivating novel!” —Robb Forman Dew, author of Being Polite to Hitler

Library Journal
Over a 30-year time span, Elly and her older brother, Joe, experience everything the late 20th century has to throw at them, from child molestation to marital upheaval, cancer, and, finally, the terror of 9/11. Joe goes down the rabbit hole of depression when he loses the early love of his life, Charlie, who is abducted and tortured after his father gets a contract to work in the Middle East. When Elly also suffers the loss of a neighborhood friend, Joe comforts her with the gift of a pet Belgian hare whom they decide to call "God." Their father's big win in the football pools transforms the family from middle-class suburbanites to wealthy eccentrics as they leave their familiar Essex surroundings and move to a wooded estate in Cornwall. VERDICT Despite the gravity of events, Winman pulls a good number of rabbits from her hat in a picaresque coming-of-age tale where characters disappear then shockingly reappear. This affecting and original debut is recommended for most public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, 11/22/10.]—Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780755379309
Publisher:
Headline Review
Publication date:
05/28/2011
Pages:
341
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Winman is an actress who attended the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and has gone on to act in theater, film, and television. When God Was a Rabbit is her debut novel. She lives in London.

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When God Was a Rabbit 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was by far one of the best books I have read in a long time. The characters are dynamic, yet flawed, in a realistic way that elicits empathy from the reader. I almost found myself envious of this little "family" of outcasts and strays that are so tightly woven in love. I both laughed out loud and wiped away tears throughout this novel. I'm lucky to find one or two novels a year as good a read as this. I was truly sorry to come to the last page but look forward to more reads by this author.
txwildflower More than 1 year ago
If I hadn't won an advanced copy of this book I am sure I wouldn't have picked it up off the shelf by looking at either the title or the cover. It just doesn't catch your eye even though I love coming-of-age books and this certainly looks like one from the cover. It had one graphic part about a quarter of the way through that I almost dismissed the book and put it down but I am so glad now I didn't. The characters are so real and they will stay with you even after you finish the book. This book is probably the best book I have read so far this year....and that's saying a lot.
Twink More than 1 year ago
When God Was A Rabbit marks the debut of author Sarah Winman. From the publisher Bloomsbury: "This is a book about a brother and a sister. It's a book about secrets and starting over, friendship and family, triumph and tragedy, and everything in between. More than anything, it's a book about love in all its forms." Elly is the sister and Joe the brother. And in between are their parents, Elly's friend Jenny Penny, assorted lodgers and god the rabbit. Young Elly's early loss of innocence in the first few chapters and her brother's promise to protect her always sets the tone for the sibling's relationship. We follow the siblings from 1968 England through to New York 9/11 in the second half of the book. Winman has crafted a novel that kept me off kilter but quickly turning pages from start to finish. The characters are off beat, but the bonds to those they love are undeniably strong. Every character seems to be a step out of time with the rest of the world. "'That's a good thing, isn't it? To stand apart and be different?' he said. 'I'm not sure' I said, quite aware of my own muted need to fit in to somehow simply hide. 'I don't want people to know I'm different'. And I looked up and and saw my brother standing in the doorway." And they are different - but in a good way. I found the story of young Elly and Joe to be especially poignant. However, they didn't evoke the same reaction in me when they were older in the second half. That's not to say that the story unfolded in the latter part of the book is no less emotional. It is, but I think it was the loss of innocence on so many levels by the younger characters that was the most heartbreaking. There are many sad moments in this story, but there are just as many funny ones. The secondary cast, particularly the parents and lodgers were favourites of mine. Their acceptance of any and all and their inclusion of those on the periphery into their family endeared them to me. I found the use of god the rabbit throughout Elly's life to be an unique allegorical device. Winman explores relationships of all sorts with a deft and original hand. But her description of the love between a brother and sister is especially well drawn. An unusual and totally original debut. It will be interesting to see where Winman goes next with her writing.
ReviewsByMolly More than 1 year ago
I am really disappointed with this book. I was excited to read this for the tour after reading about it. It sounded really good. Sadly, it didn't live up to what the book sounds like from the blurbs. I can't really pin point one exact thing that I didn't like about it. It all just sort of ran together for me and the characters were bland. I would have loved to have seen a lot more complexity to the plot line and more personality to the characters. Personally, I don't think that I can go back and try to read this 3 star novel again. That being said, however, I do encourage others to read this book. My tastes vary and are often different from other people, so while I disliked this novel, there are those out there who will love it. Please, give this novel a try. I will, in the future, try another book by Sarah Winman as she does show an obvious talent for writing, this book just didn't flow with my personal tastes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Looking forward to her next one. Quirky characters that were too true to be fiction...something I love in a novel. God as a rabbit even seems more than possible...and yes, this does include the best Christmas pageant, ever .....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reminiscent of Running With Scissors. Part 1 was exceptional. A perfect blend of pathos and humor as brother and sister find their way. If Part 2 had followed this trend, it would have been 5 stars. Part 2 resolved many loose ends from Part 1, but lost most of the humor. A great first book. Crisp writing that explores family and friendship, love and loss on many levels. Enjoyable overall.
JacqueNY More than 1 year ago
This book kept my interest until the end. It had very interesting characters and a good story line. I would reccommend it!
OurBookAddiction More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book immensely. The author has a magical way of combining serious issues with humor. There were many lines in the book that made me just laugh out loud. I felt quite sad for Elly, whose character was fleshed out and real, as it seems she never has had a chance to really live for herself. She is what I would consider a "giver". I equally enjoyed the bond she shared with her older brother and the love they have for each other. I have hope that if the story were to continue, that Elly might breakaway from all the needs of her family and friends and sketch out a life for herself. I have mixed emotions on the ending of the book. I know we usually like to read books with tidy nice little endings with no strings left hanging, but this is one book that could have pulled off a tragedy which is the only reason I give it 4 instead of 5 stars. Regardless of the ending, I found this to be a wonderful read and don't hesitate to recommend it. I will be looking forward to additional titles by this gifted new author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best stories i've read in ages. Sadly i found some of the reviews off putting and delayed the purchase. Wholly enjoyed this read; so much so that i am starting it over immediately. Have not done that with many books outside .j irving. Can not wait to hear more of this voice. Many thanks sj
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quirky, heartwrenching, and some scenes at the beginning made me laugh out loud - one of the few books i would reread
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was a good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a pretty good book, easy read but some difficult parts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so captivating thar I spent my entire Saturday reading it from cover to cover. I hope they make it into a movie and I can't wait to read other books from the author. Bravo!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is whimsical enough to be fun, doesn't slide into "stupid" as man do and the characters are likeable and well-developed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
iPodReader More than 1 year ago
Some of the incidents and characters in this book are so specific I felt as if the author were describing people and events she knew or had experienced personally. In any case the book held my interest throughout and I would gladly read more by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Challenging and worth reading. God from another perspective.