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Lucky Bunny [Hardcover]

Jill Dawson
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
RRP: 17.99
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Book Description

4 Aug 2011

Crime is a man's business, so they say, though not according to Queenie Dove. A self-proclaimed genius when it comes to thieving and escape, she reckons she's done pretty well. Yes, she had a tough childhood in London's East End during the Depression, with a father in and out of prison. But she survived the Blitz, learned how to get by on her wits, and soon graduated from shoplifting to more glamorous crimes. Daring, clever and sexy, she thrived in the Soho of the Krays and the clubs of Mayfair, fell wildly in love, and got away with it all. Or did she?

For beneath Queenie's vivacious, unrepentant account lies another story - of punishment and loss, and a passionate relationship that turns sour. To the end, she believes she was lucky, but did she simply play the hand that fate dealt her? Vividly portraying the times and circles she moved in, Lucky Bunny captures an intriguing, engaging woman as it questions how far we are in control of our own lives.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; First Edition edition (4 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340935677
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340935675
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 13.6 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 719,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jill Dawson is the author of TRICK OF THE LIGHT, MAGPIE, FRED AND EDIE, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award and the Orange Prize, WILD BOY, WATCH ME DISAPPEAR, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize, and THE GREAT LOVER, a Richard & Judy Summer Read. In addition she has edited six anthologies of short stories and poetry.

Born in Durham, Jill Dawson grew up in Yorkshire. She has held many Fellowships, including the Creative Writing Fellowship at the University of East Anglia, where she taught on the MA in Creative Writing course. In 2006 she received an honorary doctorate in recognition of her work. She lives in the Fens with her husband and two sons.

Product Description


Female fictional bandits and rogues often have a novelty value, and Queenie is no exception...Dawson's heroine is so fresh and spirited that she carries the day (Elizabeth Buchan, Sunday Times)

Queenie's voice remains lively and vivid, her story described sensually, full of sound and smell and colour. But what does her chirpy tone hide? A good narrative voice shows the character not just by what they say but by how they say it. So on the face of it LUCKY BUNNY is a less sober story than, say, WATCH ME DISAPPEAR, Dawson's extraordinary study of childhood and sexuality. Indeed, it's a treat to read. However, we have warnings from the beginning that Queenie is not necessarily telling us the whole truth. (John Self, Guardian)

Pacy and atmospheric, this tale of a girl attempting to dictate her own destiny is wickedly good (Eithne Farry, Marie Claire)

Dawson's eye for period detail is unerring, as Queenie flits glamorously through Mayfair nightclubs and Hackney council estates alike, with namechecks for the Dockers, Diana Dors and the Krays... She bursts out of these pages, longing for life, as we are drawn into her world by Dawson's terse, electric prose. I've seldom read a novel with such a sense of excitement. And the fact that we find ourselves rooting for the wonderfully wicked Queenie through all her uproarious and emotional capers only underlines the subtle and affirming art of her creator. (Philip Hoare, Sunday Telegraph)

A moving, wonderfully evocative story of love, danger and passionate intensity (Jake Arnott)

Heart-rippingly painful and joyously playful. A major prize-winning contender. (Sainsbury's magazine)

I adored Queenie Dove: she is such a force of nature, a compelling character who arrives in the world with nothing to live on except huge reserves of wit. Queenie's sassy optimism and charm is so convincing that all the time I was rooting for her I had to keep reminding myself that this was a novel and not a memoir. It's the best thing I've read for ages. (Polly Samson)

a rambunctiously riotous yarn (Easy Living)

Queenie - tiny, whippet-smart, mischievous - is born to crime. Dawson's heroine is so fresh and spirited (Sunday Times, 7 August 2011)

Dawson, as ever, delves deep into her subject matter, combining fast-paced narrative with astute, piercing reflection on more complex matters... [Her] research into the period is impeccable: everything from shared outdoor lavatories to sleazy Soho nightlife is vividly evoked, and the small details - Nan's mouth bulging with bullseyes; the Second World War posters that urge "Keep Mum, she's not so dumb!"; the variety of ways in which men fraudulently avoided enlistment - transport the reader. (Leyla Sanai, Independent on Sunday)

In Dawson's capable hands, thieving Queenie's story is far more than just crime caper. An award winning poet, Dawson shrewdly uses her heroine's undeniably clever but poorly educated point of view to evocative and sometimes lyrical effect, the author's use of language is pure, simple and shimmering. (Erikka Askeland, Scotsman)

She leaves us with some unforgettable images: some horrifying, like the wartime night when dozens of Londoners were crushed to death in the underground as they tried to flee German bombs, some beautiful, like the way Queenie's newborn baby's eyes change in days 'from inky blue to the blue of a mussel shell to a lighter, more astonishing colour, vivid as a thread of blue ice in snow'. Lucky Bunny is admirable, too, for the way its fizzing narrative is grounded in a cool-eyed awareness of the social and sexual injustices of the mid-20th century (Maggie Gee, Independent)

a romping read, saved from sordidness by the skill and energy Jill Dawson puts into her characters, especially Queenie - flinty-hearted minx that she is. (Jennifer Byrne, Women's Weekly, Australia)

Jill Dawson is one of those writers so gifted and assured you relax just five words in. Take me anywhere you like, you say to the book. I'm in your hands. Where Jill takes you here is down the old East End, through a horrid World War II childhood, a spell in jail and hten the glamourous, but seedy underworld of the Fifties. Admittedly it doesn't sound so lucky and heroine Queenie is no angel. But she's resourceful, funny, brave and beautiful. You're on her side from that fifth word in I mentioned. (Wendy Holden, Daily Mail)

Jill Dawson has created a lively, absorbing page-turner and Queenie is such a charismatic villain, you will be barracking for her all the way. (Cameron Woodhead, Saturday Age)

it is a testament to Dawson's skill that beneath the excitement there is always the ghost of the girl Queenie used to be, anxious, unloved, frightened, tough and determined to keep on going... Despite its surface thrills and spills and Krays era glamour, Lucky Bunny is a novel of great concern, human sympathy and seriousness. It is a novel of ideas and society, disguised as a romp...In the end I understood and admired Queenie Dove - and admired Jill Dawson, too, for creating something so fine from such brutish elements. (Bidisha)

Book Description

By the Orange Prize and Whitbread shortlisted author of FRED AND EDIE, the riveting and vivacious tale of a 20th-century Moll Flanders.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Evocative but not as engaging as I had hoped 24 May 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I ordered this novel because of the period covered coupled with the crime dimension to the story. There is no doubt that Jill Dawson is an accompished writer when it comes to evoking period detail. This comes across as fairly effortless. The story shifts along at a reasonable pace but I never felt fully engaged with the central character, Queenie Dove, and consequently I am unable to say that I fell in love with the book. I also wasn't totally convinced about the decision to compresss three decades into circa 280 pages as I always feel that this can give a novel a rather episodic feel. There are some interesting developments in her life and I would have preferred the novel to focus on the post-war years. Please note that this is a very personal veiw and it is apparent from existing reviews that there is a divergence of perspective. Ultimately, this is by no means a bad novel, the prose is too good for that. However, a more indepth study of a shorter timescale may have made me care more about Queenie Dove.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly absorbing 14 Oct 2011
By Blondie
Earlier reviews have summarised the book's premise and plot really well, so I won't go over that ground again, but will simply summarise my experience of reading "Lucky Bunny".
What I loved most about it was the way that Queenie Dove pulls you into the 1930s (and onwards) with such immediacy and humanity that the past is brought to life as a very dynamic, uncertain present. I think Jill Dawson's writing is deceptively 'easy', creating a strong sense of place, without labouring the historical detail.
For me, she captures the childs eye view of the unfolding world around her really well, establishing Queenie as unsentimental, observant, and increasingly opportunistic. Despite Queenie's insistence that much of her story is embellished, I took her at face value, her story certainly appearing to have the ring of truth - and I ended up rooting for her, wanting her to have that happy ending, the ends justifying the means. There are some extraordinary images of deprivation that have stayed with me, a world where women had their teeth removed rather than pay dentist bills, and where the theft of a bottle of milk becomes the pivotal moment Queenie realises she has some power after all. She doesn't 'do the right thing', but wants to do more than survive in poverty, she wants to escape to a world that is pleasurable, beautiful, glamorous - that those luckier than her are born into. Her journey is unsettling, but surprisingly enjoyable - I was disappointed when it ended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lucky Bunny 1 Mar 2013
By Rosie McCaffrey VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My mum wanted to read this because she is enthralled by the time it is set, but her overall opinion of the book was pretty ambivalent. There were parts she liked and parts she didn't (I think she likes things to read like a Nora Ephron movie), but basically it just didn't grab her. So I'm going to give it a read and come back soon(ish) with a more in-depth review!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neither lucky not unlucky 11 Nov 2011
By R. A. Mansfield VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Queenie Dove, as she calls herself, is a flinty career criminal born in the 1930s and who reaches her high point in the 60s.

The author has a fine eye for the detail of the periods and I particularly enjoyed the early years of the novel, set in wartime Britain, remembering the era of evacuees and wartorn London.

However, no matter how keen Jill Dawson's eye is, I never truly engaged with Queenie and, for this reason, Lucky Bunny didn't quite grab me as it probably was intended to.

Whether it's because it tries to pack in too much into the small number of pages, or whether it's because Queenie's exploits and intelligence felt a bit too contrived, I don't know.

Jill Dawson is undoubtedly a fine writer and I'll be interested to read more of her work. I won't however, be hanging onto Lucky Bunny.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to like it, but couldn't 6 Jun 2011
By Sally Zigmond VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's very difficult to criticize this novel. Jill Dawson is a writer I have long admired. Fred and Edie remains one of my favourite novels. However, I am not sure quite what to make of Lucky Bunny.

It has a lot of plus points. The historical context is spot on, especially the way London changed after the war. Most of the time I understand what the author is trying to do. She does not pass judgment on Queenie Dove, whose story this is. She allows her to tell the story of her life in her own way and leaves readers to decide. The main discussion point is the usual Nature v Nurture. Queenie's morals and emotional responses are totally skewed but Dawson gives us many reasons why this is so without coming down on one side or another.

In case anyone might see her as a victim, the author makes it clear right from the beginning that Queenie is more than an unreliable narrator. This makes for an interesting thesis but for me failed to sustain my interest because, quite frankly, I couldn't care about her. It reads like on of those `East End Girl Makes Good' celebrity biographies, which I suppose is the author's purpose. The author adopts the autobiographical approach because she doesn't want to create a `heroine' who grows and learns and finally finds redemption. Had it been a novel based on one of the real people, Queenie comes across in her picaresque adventures, such as Ruth Ellis or Diana Dors, I would have enjoyed it more. This is probably why Fred and Edie worked so well for me.

The trouble was I couldn't begin to believe in Queenie as a `real' person. She is supposed to have a very high intelligence but I couldn't see it. Nor could I believe that she was one of the so-called `Great Train Robbers', although what was `great' about that piece of greedy thuggery I remember so well is beyond me.

Don't get me wrong. This novel is extremely well-written, impeccably-researched but not one I would want to keep or read again.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book
Published 9 days ago by ELAINE DONNELLY
1.0 out of 5 stars A reference in the book made to the price of ...
A reference in the book made to the price of a fur coat post war was 3000.
My parents sold a 3 bed detached house in 1960 for 3000. Read more
Published 1 month ago by barbara shore
4.0 out of 5 stars Will Queenie's luck run out?
Meet Queenie Dove. That is not her real name, but it is the one she wants to go by and the one that we as readers have to accept.

Lucky Bunny is Queenies' story. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jo D'Arcy
5.0 out of 5 stars book
thought this book was good. from start to end. loved the cover of the book. will buy again from the seller
Published 9 months ago by Joe blogs
3.0 out of 5 stars Book
Bit disappointed with this - not what I imagined, and thought the story line a dab weak. Will take more care reading the review paragraphs before purchasing in future.
Published 12 months ago by andrea ellis
4.0 out of 5 stars A strong-minded girl
Queenie is an East End girl born into a family who have a daily struggle to make ends meet. The war has begun and children are being evacuated to the country but she is a child of... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Caz Mysteries
4.0 out of 5 stars Great insight into this world
This is worth a read, didnt expect that ending, wont give it away, makes you wonder. It was recommended in the You Mail magazine and I am glad I read it.
Published 19 months ago by Marion Hurley
3.0 out of 5 stars lucky bunny
I have read several books since reading Lucky Bunny - and to be frank it made no real impression on me - therefore Im having trouble remmbering the story line of it- from memory-... Read more
Published on 26 Jun 2012 by J. Hart
1.0 out of 5 stars inauthentic
This book reeks of cultural tourism. The incessant listing of place names gives no real sense of what those places were like. Read more
Published on 27 Oct 2011 by Jjones
5.0 out of 5 stars You'd Never Have Thought It
Ooh, she's a card is our Queenie. You'd never think she'd have pulled it off, what with her upbringing and all. Read more
Published on 9 Aug 2011 by M. J. Saxton
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