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When God Was a Rabbit [Hardcover]

Sarah Winman
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (508 customer reviews)

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Kindle Edition 5.49  
Hardcover --  
Hardcover, 10 May 2011 --  
Paperback 6.29  
Audio, CD, Abridged, Audiobook 9.78  
Audio Download, Unabridged 11.35 or Free with Audible.co.uk 30-day free trial

Book Description

10 May 2011

An incredibly exciting debut from an extraordinary new literary voice.

WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT is a mesmerising portrait of childhood and growing up; the loss of innocence, eccentricity and familial bonds. Stripped down to its bare bones, it's the story the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.

--This text refers to the CD-ROM edition.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (10 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608195341
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608195343
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 14.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (508 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,668,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sarah Winman grew up in Essex. She attended the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and went on to act in theatre, film and television. WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT is her first novel. She lives in London.

Product Description

Review

'At times laugh-out-loud funny, at others gut-wrenchingly sad, the book is peppered with unique and complex characters who are so original, well-observed and believable that you'll be completely absorbed into their world' (Easy Living)

'A story of siblings, friendship, secrets and love, told with sadness and humour' (Marie Claire)

'A genuinely captivating read' (Glamour)

'In the way that David Nicholls' ONE DAY follows two people through their lives, this traces a family story over four decades in the most unexpected way' (Red Magazine)

'Mesmerising' (Good Housekeeping)

'It's rare to find a novel you're recommending to friends, family and colleagues by page 60 but When God Was A Rabbit is just that kind of book... it's funny (embarrassingly so on public transport), recognizably true and heart-breaking in equal measure... A truly great book to lose yourself in; prepare to bore everyone else around you by telling them just how much they need to read it' (Stylist) --This text refers to the CD-ROM edition.

Review

'At times laugh-out-loud funny, at others gut-wrenchingly sad, the book is peppered with unique and complex characters who are so original, well-observed and believable that you'll be completely absorbed into their world'--Easy Living

‘It perfectly captures the hazy, magical nature of youth and all its mysteries, against a backdrop of real-life events'--Elle

'A story of siblings, friendship, secrets and love, told with sadness and humour'--Marie Claire

'A genuinely captivating read'--Glamour

'Mesmerising'--Good Housekeeping

‘In the way that David Nicholls' ONE DAY follows two people through their lives, this traces a family story over four decades in the most unexpected way'--Red Magazine

'Exciting debut...a fabulously quirky novel'--Woman & Home

‘It's rare to find a novel you're recommending to friends, family and colleagues by page 60 but When God Was A Rabbit is just that kind of book... it's funny (embarrassingly so on public transport), recognizably true and heart-breaking in equal measure... A truly great book to lose yourself in; prepare to bore everyone else around you by telling them just how much they need to read it'--Stylist

'Winman's narrative voice is beautifully true, with a child's unsentimental clarity. A superb debut'--The Times

'I think what I liked most about this novel is that it was a rollicking family story - in which we get to know a fairly large cast of eccentric characters and follow them through some tricky decades. What was extra appealing to me was that the years covered by this debut novel by Sarah Winman are those--almost exactly--of my own life'--Paul Magrs

‘When I got to the end I had to immediately contact a couple of other people who had also been given proof copies, just so I could talk about it. What I particularly liked was the possibility of interpretation of events. Winman reels you in to her world and makes you work for resolution. What she does not do is manipulate you or lay it all out on a plate'--Booktopia.com

‘There are books that tug on the heartstrings, and then there are full-on tractor pulls. When God Was a Rabbit falls into the latter category...[Winman's] prose also has an elegiac, simple beauty, which she uses to nimbly guide her characters through 30-odd eventful years of history...Winman really proves herself capable of making camp inside our tear ducts--and of, one hopes, writing other novels in the future'--Globe and Mail (Toronto)

‘Savour the fragile beauty of the writing. Another Mark Haddon in the making? We reckon so'--Irish Times

‘Gloriously offbeat... Winman's narrative voice is beautifully true, with a child's unsentimental clarity. A superb debut'--The Times

‘Winman pulls a good number of rabbits from her hat in a picaresque coming-of-age tale...[An] affecting and original debut--Library Journal

‘A heartbreaking story of the secrets and hopes of a sister and brother who share an unshakable bond. Winman shows impressive range and vision'--Publishers Weekly

‘Winman's fiction debut, spanning the late 1960s and early 2000s, boasts one of the more endearingly unconventional families in a while... [Winman's] quirky voice maintains its energy; even at her most precocious, Elly never wears out her welcome'--Kirkus

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
148 of 158 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it 10 Aug 2011
Format:Paperback
A very unusual book, told from the perspective of a young, then older girl / woman as she moves through her life. As the book states, though it is written very much like an autobiographical account, it really only focuses on the key moments of her life - the moments that hold the most impact, the most important or pivotal moments. For that reason, one could easily be forgiven for thinking it a more sensationalised life story - but it really isn't. Take your own life as an example, think of the biggest and most influential moments of your life - be they positive or negative, if you put them into a story, but omitted most of what was in between each event, you'd probably have quite a sensational story of your own!

This story focuses on the key moments from the life of Eleanor Maud, a young girl from a nice, loving family. Her parents love her and she has a very close relationship with her older brother Joe. Despite coming from a loving and protective home, Ellie still sees the ugly side of life, her parents placing trust where it doesn't belong, or brushes with death of family / friends. However the biggest exposure to the darker side of life for Ellie is when she meets Jenny Penny. Jenny is a girl of roughly the same age but who doesn't come from a loving or responsible home. Jenny struggles with life and though she never really envies Ellie and her family, she longs to be a part of it. Ellie's realisation that not all families are the same, and not everyone is as lucky as her is a key theme throughout the book. Even later in the book when she is older, this idea that, through all life has thrown at her, she should still feel fortunate really holds true.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant Surprise 7 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback
I enjoyed this book tremendously. Read in two evening sittings, the pages turned themselves. I had avoided the book a little due to the title, but Atheists can rest easy, this is not a God book. I found that I did connect to the characters, although they were not always totally likeable. If I had to sum this book up in one word it would be Pathos. It fulfilled the criteria for "something different". I read two or three books a week and unlike many others I found myself describing this book to my husband. I understand many of the criticisms levelled at this book and in many cases agree. However, this book entertained me, made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think. What more?
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284 of 307 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure what the fuss is about... 9 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Firstly, let me say that I did enjoy this book, and I realise I'm in the minority in not thinking it is amazing. So, fully anticipating a lynching, I will list what I thought was wrong with it:

- Simply far too much happens. It seems as if the author has taken everything she has ever thought about and splurged it on the page. She touches on a wide range of topics, each one of which could occupy a whole book by itself, but she barely skims them. This is not only overwhelming to the reader, but it serves to trivialise these important issues. There also doesn't appear to be any uniting theme. There is an element of 'and then this happened, and then this happened' and the reader is left wondering why.
- I couldn't identify with the main character, who appeared to be a wry observer who was unaffected by the events in her life. I think this would have worked better told in the third person, as we never really get under the skin of the narrator.
- The narrative is all over the place, appearing disjointed and unedited - something which really isn't helped by the gap between each paragraph, which gives the impression of a change in scene/time and causes the reader to readjust every time it happens.

So onto the good stuff. Firstly, the book was extremely funny, in a very subtle way. Several times I laughed out loud and I applaud the author for this: genuinely funny writing is hard to come by. Secondly, the writing and the descriptions are very beautiful, and some of the similes are spot on and breathtaking. These two things alone deserve three stars, and I was so impressed with them I would like to give the book more. However, a beautiful style and impeccable comic timing do not, unfortunately, make up for unlikeable characters, disjointed story telling and a lack of unity. Sorry, guys.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Letting Go 21 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved this story.

I loved the narrator. I loved her humour and her observations, and the way her life was described with such clever brush strokes, so much could be said in so few words. The fact that the book is both shocking and humorous shows the incredible skill of the author. There were times when I laughed out loud and yet, on the next page, I would ache with sadness for Elly and Jenny Penny.

This is a beautiful story. It's a story of childhood and coming of age, but these intimate moments of growing up are set against a backdrop of world events, which only adds to their fragility. There are many different shades and themes but, above all, I think it's a story about letting go. It's about loss (of childhood, of innocence and of the people we love) and about how we move on when we lose the one thing to us which is most precious. By the end of the story, I was so wrapped in the characters, I almost couldn't bear to let go myself.

Stunning.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars not what I expected
read this on holiday and I wasn't sure about this book at first, but I ended up really enjoying it. author left quite a few issues/questions unanswered which was a bit annoying and... Read more
Published 4 days ago by Amy Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars Memorable writing but a rather forgettable plot
The back of this novel describes it thus: "This is a book about a brother and a sister. It's a book about childhood and growing up,friendships and families, triumph and tragedy and... Read more
Published 8 days ago by F. M. M. Stott
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Good read and flowed nicely. Great little holiday book as little thinking needed but likable characters. Recommended
Published 14 days ago by Miss Ward
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth reading!
I really liked this book!
Published 27 days ago by aspa
3.0 out of 5 stars I didn't like this book very much at beginning but still read ...
I read this book during recent holiday. I have to say, I didn't like this book very much at beginning but still read on and finished it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by mumwithtwokids
4.0 out of 5 stars Another title which gives nothing away
This book has been compared to The Curious Incident of The dog in the Night Time (Mark Haddon). This is fair as both are debut novels and written in the dispassionate narrative of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jules Trant
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good
Published 1 month ago by j g hames
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
enjoyed
Published 1 month ago by gill22
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good book. Thought my daughter could read it but ...
Really good book. Thought my daughter could read it but there's a few bad words and too old for my 10 year old. Worth it though for me.
Published 2 months ago by Sue Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet and quirky
While there were elements I loved - the character-driven, sweet and imaginative narrative, the bittersweet and funny moments - I can't give the book five stars as it didn't hold my... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Victoria Morgan
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