When God Was a Rabbit is the story of a brother and sister growing up in England during the 1970s. The family seem to be a magnet for literary themes – with everything from paedophilia, murder and terrorism affecting them. Initially I worried that too much was happening, but I quickly realised that this book isn’t meant to be realistic. The ridiculous number of tragic events meant that it was impossible to take anything seriously and so the mood was far lighter than should have been possible given the amount of suffering taking place.
I found myself laughing as someone was kidnapped and rolling my eyes at the mention of cancer, but I was also moved by many of the events – especially those towards the end of the book. This combination of humour with dark themes is difficult to achieve and I was very impressed.
My father’s Evening News was handed around in a quiet daze. All vital signs were missing and so his Atheist family had agreed to turn off the life support machine.
“Christ that was quick,” said Nancy. “What were they doing? Saving electricity?”
“Not funny Nancy,” said my mother hiding her face. “Not funny at all.”
But even I saw my father laugh and my brother, and Jenny Penny swore that she saw my mother laugh as she looked up from her hot chocolate. She loved moments like that. The inclusiveness of family. I guess because she had none.
I especially loved the beginning of the book – the childhood innocence added to the charm. Naming a pet rabbit “God” is something only a young child can get away with, but I loved the way it allowed for all sorts of profound statements to be sprinkled through the text.
“And so at Christmas, god finally came to live with me.”
I’m sure that some people will find this sort of thing distasteful, but I loved the originality.
The book was easy to read and had a gripping plot. I can see it being a big hit with book clubs as I’m sure it will generate a lot of discussion.
The enormous number of themes in this book should have been a recipe for disaster, but somehow Sarah Winman managed to make it work. Recommended to anyone looking for an entertaining, original book that doesn’t take itself too seriously.