I love it when people who I know are avid readers suggest books to me, and this one came highly recommended by a very good friend of mine late last year. It took me a while to buy a copy of When God was a Rabbit but it is by far one of the loveliest books I’ve had suggested to me in a while…thanks Jo!
The book is narrated by Elly, and we see the world through her eyes as she grows from childhood to womanhood. More important than this journey though, are the relationships she has, especially the inextricable connection with her older brother, Joe. The book is beautifully written, and much of what happens in Elly’s early years is merely hinted at, only to be fully explained towards the end. But we understand immediately how it has coloured her experience of the world, and also led to the creation of an even tighter bond between the brother and sister pair. When God was a Rabbit obviously shares a wonderfully portrayed sequence of events, as life unfolds for the characters, but more than that, it is about love – between siblings primarily, but also between friends, between families, and between lovers. It’s about how love can seem lost and resurface at the most unexpected moments, and how it can forge ties that can surpass even the most unspeakable events.
It’s easy to understand why Sarah Winman won New Writer of the Year 2011 in the UK National Book Awards for this, her first novel. It’s the kind of book that makes you feel you really know the characters, and for the most part, are genuinely fond of them. Winman has created characters that are truly believable, complete with all the little quirks and failings that make us human. It’s also the kind of book that you’ll want to race through to find out how things turn out for them, but at the same time, you won’t want it to end.
My copy of When God was a Rabbit was published by Headline Publishing Group in 2011.