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When God Was a Rabbit: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Sarah Winman
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)

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Print List Price: $15.00
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Book Description

This is a book about a brother and a sister. It's a book about secrets and starting over, friendship and family, triumph and tragedy, and everything in between. More than anything, it's a book about love in all its forms.

In a remarkably honest and confident voice, Sarah Winman has written the story of a memorable young heroine, Elly, and her loss of innocence-a magical portrait of growing up and the pull and power of family ties. From Essex and Cornwall to the streets of New York, from 1968 to the events of 9/11, When God Was a Rabbit follows the evolving bond of love and secrets between Elly and her brother Joe, and her increasing concern for an unusual best friend, Jenny Penny, who has secrets of her own. With its wit and humor, engaging characters whose eccentricities are adroitly and sometimes darkly drawn, and its themes of memory and identity, When God Was a Rabbit is a love letter to true friendship and fraternal love.

Funny, utterly compelling, fully of sparkle, and poignant, too, When God Was a Rabbit heralds the start of a remarkable new literary career.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Winman debuts with a heartbreaking story of the secrets and hopes of a sister and brother who share an unshakable bond. Elly and her older brother, Joe, appear to be just like all the other kids in mid-1970s Essex, U.K., but, as is often the case, shocking secrets lurk below the surface for the siblings and Elly's best friend, Jenny Penny—one has been sexually abused, another has an alcoholic and promiscuous mother, another is homosexual—and the weight of bearing each other's traumas erupts in hard to watch ways. As the years go on, each moves forward; for Elly and Joe, this is more easily accomplished, as their family moves away from Essex and Joe's secret is brought to light, relief Elly doesn't receive until much later. As the story winds through time and across the Atlantic, the trio and their families are rocked by 9/11, leading to a final twist that strains belief before settling into acceptable inevitability. 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. (May)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


'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 '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 'Mesmerising' Good Housekeeping '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

Product Details

  • File Size: 500 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1608195341
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (May 10, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004YJX2BM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #352,355 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Utterly original prose May 23, 2011
When God Was A Rabbit marks the debut of author Sarah Winman.

From the publisher Bloomsbury:

"This is a book about a brother and a sister. It's a book about secrets and starting over, friendship and family, triumph and tragedy, and everything in between. More than anything, it's a book about love in all its forms."

Elly is the sister and Joe the brother. And in between are their parents, Elly's friend Jenny Penny, assorted lodgers and god the rabbit.

Young Elly's early loss of innocence in the first few chapters and her brother's promise to protect her always sets the tone for the sibling's relationship. We follow the siblings from 1968 England through to New York 9/11 in the second half of the book. Winman has crafted a novel that kept me off kilter but quickly turning pages from start to finish. The characters are off beat, but the bonds to those they love are undeniably strong. Every character seems to be a step out of time with the rest of the world.

"'That's a good thing, isn't it? To stand apart and be different?' he said. 'I'm not sure' I said, quite aware of my own muted need to fit in to somehow simply hide. 'I don't want people to know I'm different'. And I looked up and and saw my brother standing in the doorway."

And they are different - but in a good way. I found the story of young Elly and Joe to be especially poignant. However, they didn't evoke the same reaction in me when they were older in the second half. That's not to say that the story unfolded in the latter part of the book is no less emotional. It is, but I think it was the loss of innocence on so many levels by the younger characters that was the most heartbreaking. There are many sad moments in this story, but there are just as many funny ones.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Had potential, but fizzled June 28, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
(Note: god in the book's title is lower-case, although the cover of my copy fudges this; I'm just quoting the author.)

When I read this book, the line about happy families being all the same popped into my head. Happy families are rare in literature, so when you encounter one like Elly`s in "When god Was a Rabbit", it's a pleasant surprise; however, they don't generate much drama. The conflict then has to come from outside the protagonist, in the forms of her peers, colleagues, etc. Either way, the reader expects the protagonist to struggle with some kind of conflict before coming to terms with it and being transformed as a result.

However, that's not exactly what happens here. All the truly memorable stuff - a kidnapping, many deaths, a murder, etc. - happen to characters other than the protagonist. A childhood trauma occurs early on, but is dropped without examining in depth how that one incident affects how she relates to people outside her supportive family, which is something that should be addressed. There are a few references to how she and her brother are "loners," but that's it. Instead we get her quirky childhood and friendship with another eccentric child - then boom, we're fifteen years later, and even though she's an adult, her past schooling, career and relationships with other people besides the family/a few close friends are never described in any detail. Nor, except for a one night stand, do we see firsthand how Elly's early trauma affects her relationships with adult men - there simply aren't any except the same people who provided support when she was a child. It's true that she's independently wealthy so there no need for her to deal with less than pleasant people unless she chooses to, but this seems a cop out.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than the back cover description might imply January 9, 2012
By Pippa
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Whenever I read the back cover of a book or a review that describes it as being about "family ties" or a "loss of innocence" or something similar. I immediately feel completely turned off. Honestly, I hate stuff like that. From that kind of description, what else could the book be but most likely trite, probably melodramatic and, most definitely, best avoided?

Imagine my enthusiasm, then, when our next book club book was announced as being When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman, which turned out to have any number of those trite kind of descriptions in its back cover blurb. I began reading the book accompanied by much mental eye rolling and thoughts of "I'll just quickly skim read through to get it over and done with". Having finished the book, I thought I'd review it for you. Believe it or not, it was much better than I feared - clearly shows how much I know! Here are my thoughts.

First off, some advice: do not, for the love of God, read this book on public transport. I made the mistake of starting to read the book while I was on the tram. This proved unfortunate, as I got to the nativity scene and immediately started laughing hysterically. And I mean in a BAHAH HA HA HA-loud-laughing-with-tears-pouring-down-face kind of way. In fact, I laughed so hard that I choked on my saliva (what can I say, I'm all class). People on the tram were not impressed and started to give me sideways glances and edge surreptitiously away.

The first half of the book is set in the late 60's and the 70's, where the narrator, Elly, and her brother, Joe, are kids growing up in England. Although some of the themes in the first half are dark, it is actually much lighter and funnier than the second half of the book, which takes place when Elly and Joe have grown up.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of the best books I've ever read.
Published 13 days ago by Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars Steps into the unknown
I really hope Sarah writes more books. I loved this one. At the beginning I was laughing out loud and I was surprised at the darkness that crept into the book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by shazartist
4.0 out of 5 stars laugh out loud, cry out loud
I did not know what to expect when i began this book and I was pleasantly surprised when I caught myself laughing out loud (the crying came later) the characters drew me in and I... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ioannou Avgi.G
2.0 out of 5 stars Did not like it at all
Did not like it at all. The story is soso. What I really did not like was the style of writing. I was missing any kind of flow or finesse. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sylvia
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Loved the book!
Published 2 months ago by Lisa Haselton
5.0 out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it for people...
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it for people looking for something a little quirky yet full of depth.
Published 3 months ago by Ru Tauro
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 4 months ago by Dean
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting and unique read
I really enjoyed this book. A great story about family and friends. Spiritual and moving.
Sara Winman is a great writer.
Published 7 months ago by GinnyP
5.0 out of 5 stars thought prevoking from the very first page.
it was a book I would recommend to anyone wanting a book with humour depth and deep thought into a girl growing up in a mixed up world.
Published 9 months ago by Genevieve Bird
5.0 out of 5 stars So loved this book
The characters were real, their reactions to situations were real and their lives were real. This is a book everyone can find a character to relate to. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Denise Morphett
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