Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Book Review: WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT BY SARAH WINMAN

Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Published by:  Headline Review  (March 2011)
Pages:  336  (Paperback)
My Rating:  7/10

About the Book:

Spanning four decades, from 1968 onwards, this is the story of a flawed family and the slew of ordinary and extraordinary incidents that shape their everyday lives.  It is a story about childhood and growing up, loss of innocence, eccentricity, familial ties and friendships, love and life.  Stripped down to its bare bones, it’s about the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.


1st Line:

I decided to enter this world just as my mother got off the bus after an unproductive shopping trip to Ilford.

Eleanor Maud, born in 1968, is the narrator of this story, she’s the sister of Joe who is 5 years older and he was different to other boys his age; "an exotic creature who secretly wore his mother’s lipstick at night, it was his outlet against a conservative world, the quiet rebellion of a rank outsider."

The book is rich with eccentric characters, including her best friend, Jenny Penny, who would pull a coin out of her arm and Arthur, (came to stay and never left) who knew his exact date of death and how he would die.  

It is told in two parts, the first is Elly’s childhood and the second is her adulthood.  And this is where my feelings about the book changed.  I loved the first part, it was funny …... I was in stitches reading about the Nativity Play and the rugby match …...... it was touching when her brother gave her a rabbit for Christmas and called it god …....... and the ups and downs of her parents relationship and her friendship with her best friend.  All wonderfully written and a joy to read and I just wanted it to carry on in that era but then the story moves on 19 years and it just wasn’t the same for me.  

The writing was still of a high quality but I found myself not caring as much for the characters and I can’t really put my finger on why I felt like that.  Maybe I just liked them as children but not as adults.

Overall, this was a book of two halves!  That’s why I gave it a 7/10 instead of a 9/10.

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