Wednesday, 11 May 2011

When God Was A Rabbit By Sarah Winman

We stood in the middle of our garden, unsheltered, unprotected, and looked around at the turbulence of the lives we backed on to, sat next to, the lives of the neighbourhood, and it shook clear out apathy until we saw again what our life here had been. There was the sledge our father had made, the one we took to school, the envy of all, and the ghosts of swings and climbing frames that had held us, and dropped us, the sounds of our tears. And we saw again the cricket and football matches that had scuffed the grass bare at the bottom lawn. And we remembered the tents we had made and the nights spent within; imaginary countries, us the explorers. There was suddenly so much to say goodbye to.

This is a book about a brother and a sister. It's a book about childhood and growing up, friendships and families, triumph and tradgedy and everything in between. More than anything, it's a book about love in all its forms.

When God Was A Rabbit is such a charming and soulful book! It's split into two parts; the first part follows the childhood years of Elly from her birth in 1968 and the second part follows some of her adult years into the 21st century. I loved how we get a peek into the life of a family that on first appearances looks like your average family, but when you scratch beneath the surface they are in fact completely fascinating.

My favourite part was the childhood years of Elly. I really enjoyed reading about her life and understanding how she perceives the world around her with a child's sense of wonder and a keen perceptiveness. The family bonds are strong especially with her older brother Joe. They can talk honestly with each other and he is the one responsible for giving Elly her pet rabbit which she chose to name God. Apart from Elly and her family there is also a whole bunch of eccentric and zany characters. There's Jenny Penny, Elly's childhood friend, Arthur and Ginger, a pair of quirky family friends and Nina, Elly's famous actor Aunt.

One of the ways in which Winman makes you really connect with the book and its people is by weaving real life events in with the story. The Queen's silver jubilee, the death of Princess Diana and the 9/11 attacks are all included. They never diverted your focus from the plot but they helped you be part of the story by reviving your memories and actions during these events and how they brought everybody together. These are times where most people can remember exactly what they were doing at the time and how their lives were impacted.

This book courses through the ups and downs of a family and even though it deals with a lot of big issues and scopes four decades of a persons life the writing continues to flow through out the whole book. At times it's light hearted and funny and others its darker and serious but it's always captivating. The characters are all likable and you end up really caring about them. It's sweet, rich, whimsical and utterly absorbing and touching. I can't wait to read her future releases.

Random Passage: And I was right. We would see each other again, but only the once - as children, anyway - before our lives diverged like rivers separating and carving across new terrain. But I didn't know that as I waved to her from the car and shouted, "See you soon, I'll miss you!" I didn't know that as I shouted, "You're my best friend! Write to me!" I knew none of that as I looked back and watched her and our street recede like the point of light in a tunnel, until the moment we turned the corner and she and it were gone. I felt the air sucked out of my lungs like life itself.

1 comment:

mummazappa said...

I've seen this around and wondered if it was any good, thanks for the review :-)