- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Headline Review; First Edition edition (3 Mar. 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0755379284
- ISBN-13: 978-0755379286
- Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 22.3 x 3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (641 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 117,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
When God was a Rabbit Hardcover – 3 Mar 2011
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"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
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"" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'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
‘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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
- 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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A refreshing different story. Loved the characters and was sorry when I finished the book. Will certainly look for this author again.Published 2 days ago by joanne
...rollercoaster of life, tragedies, triumphs, love, relationships and family. I'm looking forward to reading another novel by this author. Try it.Published 4 days ago by Bsight
Loved it. Wonderful, vivid characters and story telling. The style remind me a little of John Irving's, The World According to Garp, another memorable book.Published 11 days ago by Tremerryn
This book I had in paperback a few years ago but never read. Got 99p in the monthly deals and over all a pleasant read. Read morePublished 14 days ago by JANETCLEGG
It reminded me of the book The Trouble With Goat's and Sheep. I loved that book too. Reminiscent of times gone by. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Lisa Jr
I absolutely loved "When God was a Rabbit" - cannot wait to read more from this author. The early part of the story is, for me, a very similar style to "Cider with... Read morePublished 21 days ago by Jools
Wonderful mix of creative dreaming and drama beautifully written. One of those books that I couldn't put down but didn't want to finish.Published 23 days ago by Amazon Customer
A powerful story revolving around interesting and believable characters. Well written. I will be seeking out the author's other work.Published 23 days ago by Mrs. Judy S. Moore