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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant Surprise
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...
Published on 7 Oct 2011 by G. C. Spiller

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285 of 308 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure what the fuss is about...
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...
Published on 9 Jun 2011 by Amazon Customer


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant Surprise, 7 Oct 2011
By 
G. C. Spiller (Oxfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: When God was a Rabbit (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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149 of 159 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, 10 Aug 2011
By 
R. Keech (Berwick upon Tweed, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: When God was a Rabbit (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.

The story, despite being fiction, feels so honest and true - there are elements that MUST be from Sarah Winman (the author)'s own life. Inspired by events in hers, others and indeed all of our lives, this is one book that I really found difficult to put down. I had to read on, I worried about the characters - I wanted to share their good times and bad.

Comparisons with Mark Haddon I think are very fair (especially if you have read 'A spot of Bother')but also a very personal style of her own, I shall be looking forward to Sarah Winman's next book.

You'll laugh and cry in equal measure and if you are as lucky as me, recognize some of your own family's dysfunctional brilliance!
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285 of 308 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure what the fuss is about..., 9 Jun 2011
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This review is from: When God was a Rabbit (Paperback)
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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118 of 131 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love and Loss, 25 Mar 2011
By 
Lovely Treez (Belfast, N Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: When God was a Rabbit (Hardcover)
When God Was A Rabbit is one of Waterstone's Top 11 for 2011 and that recommendation plus its wonderful title attracted me to this very impressive debut novel.

The story is divided into two parts, 1968 and 1995, the first of which deals with the childhood of our narrator, Elly Portman, spent in Essex and Cornwall and the latter concerns events in Elly's life as an adult, mostly in London and New York. Family relationships are a strong focus for the author, especially the bond between Elly and her older brother, Joe who is at pains to "fit in" with his peers. The Portmans are not exactly your typical middle-class family as is clearly demonstrated when they embark on their Cornish adventure, opening a rather unconventional B+B which attracts some idiosyncratic characters. Moving to Cornwall means an end to Elly's close relationship with her best friend Jenny Penny but this bond is renewed in the second half of the book.

You've probably gathered by now that this is a very "busy" novel, filled to the brim with big themes such as love in its many shapes and forms, bereavement, family relationships and identity. It's a credit to Sarah Winman's writing that the story remains fluid, whimsical and almost magical even when exploring the darker side of humanity. Yes, the characters are quirky but they are fully rounded, believable and extremely engaging. There are moments of wonderful comedy, especially the Jubilee Street Party and the school nativity play, but these are balanced by bleaker episodes such as those dealing with domestic and sexual abuse and the aftermath of 9/11.

From the opening lines, you are drawn into Elly's world and you're immersed in the ebb and flow of family life. When God Was A Rabbit is an excellent first novel and one which will hopefully resonate with many readers.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Loved it at first but then....., 28 Jun 2011
By 
K. Morris "karenjmorris2" (Surrey UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: When God was a Rabbit (Paperback)
I really lost interest in the second half of the book. I thought the first part covering childhood was so perceptively written and made me feel very nostalgic about certain memories from my own childhood. I couldn't put the book down, and little phrases and ways of putting things was just spot on. But unfortunately, the part dealing with adult life, and the events of 9/11 in particular (which I was not expecting)could not keep me interested and I skimmed and scanned to the end. Shame really.
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60 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A surprising gem of a book!, 31 Mar 2011
By 
Miss K (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: When God was a Rabbit (Hardcover)
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This is a well observed novel: knowingly funny, often bittersweet.

It's a coming of age story with a lot of heart and soul. It focuses on family and friendship; love and loss and the inevitable ups and downs of growing up.

Some may describe the language as being quite simplistic but don't assume that the book lacks in sophistication - in my opinion, the book is actually very elegantly written in a way that flows really well (making it effortless to read). There's a lot of understated humour in the story too so it's going to keep you entertained.

I can't fault the way the book is written - there's a lot going on with very many themes being explored but you never feel 'bogged down' by any of it. It's a real mix of things and you never quite know what to expect with the book while you're reading it so it continually manages to surprise and delight.

The book is very much character-driven in its focus although there's plenty of plot in there too. It's my favourite book so far (this year) and I definitely recommend it as a truly charming and compelling read that managed to hold my attention throughout. A brilliant read.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and heart warming, 7 May 2011
This review is from: When God was a Rabbit (Hardcover)
When God was a Rabbit is predominantly about Elly. Elly was born in 1968. I was born in 1966 and, for me, this made the book so more poignant. Everything Elly spoke about I remembered - Bazooka chewing gum, Wimpy restaurants and a pile of coins on top of the pools coupon waiting for the pool man to collect.

The book is in two parts - when Elly was a young girl and then again when she's in her late twenties. It shows the joy of seeing things through the eyes of a child - some of the things Sarah had written about are surely more fun when you are young. Part two is about how life can strip away the fun element at times and how just a simple memory can get you smiling again.

There were some really funny scenes (the nativity play especially). There were some really sad scenes (9/11 especially). There were lots of world events interlaced with the memories. For me, a similar age, I connected with them all.

When God was a Rabbit is also a series of short stories as we dip into the lives of the eccentric characters that Elly met during those years. As soon as I was hooked onto one character, Sarah left me hanging and moved on to the next. Sometimes she moved back and forth with the same characters, slipping effortlessly through the years. It made the book refreshing and engaging at the same time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious and irritating, 10 Jan 2012
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This review is from: When God was a Rabbit (Paperback)
I did not enjoy this novel at all. The title is irritating and I would never have picked it up if it hadn't been my book club's choice. Then I read all the positive reviews and thought, oh, it doesn't sound so bad.
But then I started reading it. It got on my tits from the start. It's vague and confusing in its use of pronouns, so that one is sometimes unsure for entire paragraphs who the hell she's actually supposed to be discussing. It's really episodic, too, with many sections seeming unfinished and once again unclear in its use of time, so it gets really confusing and annoying. I didn't care about the characters at all. Several plot developments and character reactions struck me as extremely unbelievable and unconvincing.
However, the worst thing is the profoundly irritating prose style. There is repetition. Repetition of words across several sentences. Repetition which is obviously designed to make it all sound terribly deep and meaningful. Repetition which makes me want to stab the narrator in the ear. Repeatedly.
It has pretensions to be something special but it really is just incredibly badly written.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Caution - You may fall in love with this book, 18 Sep 2011
This review is from: When God was a Rabbit (Paperback)
Engaging, affecting, moreish and skilfully written. This book moved me more than anything I've read in quite some time.

A very realistic account of the trials and tribulations of family life sprinkled with enough fairy dust and some cutting humour which binds it all together into a hugely entertaining story that follows Elle, a kind hearted young girl wise beyond her years into a confused adult and tries to make sense of the world around her.

I really felt the glow of her family's love and her pain in times of despair. The author must have a beautiful if at times manipulative heart as she pulls you full the full range of emotions. As a man reading parts of the story in a hotel lounge at times I had to stop and compose myself to avoid tears. I was surprised upon reading other reviews to find so many people felt the characters had no depth. For me this novel contains some really memorable characters, Arthur for one is a gem. At times Elle can seem emotionally sterile, almost a blank canvas but that is a huge part of her character and made it easier for me to step into her shoes and become enveloped in her world.

In my opinion this book is well worth a try and I will be recommending it to all and sundry.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Often funny at times but ...... (3.5 stars), 26 July 2011
By 
B. Robinson "Wyres" (Lancs, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: When God was a Rabbit (Paperback)
I was looking forward to this story as several online friends had really enjoyed it but it didn't do it for me completely. I love reading books that expect you to suspend your belief and have touches of a magical element about them, I enjoyed this one but I found it lacking in some ways and I can't say I loved it for that reason.

Whilst I engaged with the characters in some ways I can't say that I really liked any of them, maybe we aren't meant to like them though. I do remember losing the plot part way through and in some ways this is probably when I lost interest with it.

I did find parts of the book funny and found myself laughing at it. I would recommend this book to see what other people think about it. I will read more books by this author, if she has anymore published as I feel that she has a talent that will grow.
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