Short chapters of beautiful prose follow this rabbit from his haughty beginnings as the conceited and self-centred china rabbit who belongs to a privileged little girl. He is immaculately looked after, has his own place setting at the table and is dressed in fine clothes, a beauty to behold. However, Edward is a proud and unlikeable rabbit who doesn't appreciate the little girls's love for him. Her Grandma is disappointed by the rabbit and tells him the tale of princess who never felt the loved lavished upon her, a tale which he thinks over again and again throughout the journey that follows.
Travelling aboard a cruise liner, Edward falls overboard and is finally rescued by a fisherman. He is looked after by his wife but he is cruelly taken from them. His adventures then take him across the United States with a tramp and his dog, but once again he is separated from his companions, a rabbit who now appreciates the value of friends. My daughter (7) particularly enjoyed it when Edward moved from stage to stage, being given a different and often amusing new name in each. He finally finds happiness as Jangles with a chronically-ill little girl who then dies, and Edward is humbled to have found and lost a true love. Does he have the strength to carry on?
There is sadness along the way with each of the very different characters who take care of Edward but during the journey, Edward learns the value of companionship, friends and love. My daughter is often very sensitive to sad issues in stories - however with this book I found the simplicity of the narrative, the brevity of the chapters and the gently lyrical prose seemed to contain the depth of her sadness because the story kept moving on at a good pace.
Ending up in a doll-maker's shop after his long journey, Edward is worried about loving again, scared of the heartbreak that it can cause. However, his travels take him full circle and the happy conclusion is a neat tying of the threads which my daughter (7) loved.
This is an unusual book with its simple tale, a sort-of "Teddy Robinson" crossed with Gobbolino the Witches cat, yet bearing an additional dimension of sadness and carrying a message of love and it's value. The realistic and detailed black and white illustrations every few pages were a perfect accompaniment to this thought-provoking and moving tale.