Read When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman Online

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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 pThis 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....

Title : When God Was a Rabbit
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781608195343
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

When God Was a Rabbit Reviews

  • Bonnie
    2018-12-06 10:44

    OH MY GOD WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF WHYYYYYYY??!?!?!?!? I read these book descriptions. They sound on the far side of boring. They almost scream: "I am literature. LIT-er-a-ture. Pronounced the douchey way, dear. I only bore you because you are dumb. If you were actually an intellectual, you would bow before my literary prowess. Read the New Yorker more, darling." Whyyyyyyy?!?!? Why do people publish these books? Why do critics RECOMMEND them?!? Why do I read them?!?!? I know the answer to the last question: because sometimes these things surprise you and you end up with a Room, which you think sounds dumb and potentially boring and then ends up amazing. I do wish, however, that books like this particular one got segregated onto their own shelves (and got their own Dewey decimal numbers) under the officially recognized genre of “books that are pretentious and boring but which critics will adore and which do nothing so much as invoke a bunch of sophisticates standing around at a wine and cheese party over-enunciating words and mocking those who do not understand the finer points of grammar and laughing at their own wit.” And then if they were shelved in their own section I could avoid them like the plague. Because right now they’re harder to detect.Don't even ask me what this one was about. I think I went onto auto-pilot while reading this book, which means pages turned but inside my head I was thinking about more interesting things, like what color I was going to paint my room this year. I think there was a little girl. And some hinted-at secret that should've been intriguing but was not. And there was a rabbit name God, which I kind of remember but mostly know because of the title.

  • F
    2018-11-24 09:26

    I hated this in 2013 and i hated it in 2016.Thought re-reading might change my opinion on it but it didnt at all.So boring. Had to really force myself. Hated everyone.So glad when it was over.

  • Kevin Ansbro
    2018-12-01 09:38

    I found this book to be a delightful and compelling read:Sarah Winman writes lovingly and honestly about family dynamics and human relationships. Told through the narrative voice of main character, Elly - from infancy through to adulthood - Winman reminds us that life's journey isn't always as smooth as envisaged.The author draws inspiration from her English childhood, which awakened my own fond memories of that particular era: fish finger suppers, '70s family game shows and a wonderfully calamitous school nativity all brought a grin to my face, causing me to nod in appreciative remembrance. This portrayal of once-innocent childhoods is referenced in the writer's personal notes. She remarks: 'Back then childhood independence was given, not stolen'So true!The first half of the story is bejeweled with love, in all of its guises. I was instantly beguiled by Winman's wonderful writing style, and began to tell friends about this must-read novel before I was even one-third of the way through! The prose is natural, spirited and memorably poignant: there is a poetry to her writing: 'My mother lay down with me on my bed, her perfume tumbling over my face like breath, her words smelling of Dubonnet and lemonade'Now what's not to like about that?Sumptuous stuff!This book is as reassuring as that oversized woollen jumper you reserve only for bouts of influenza. This isn't to say that the narrative is saccharine-sweet; far from it. Uneasy relationships and acts of senseless violence (some globally iconic) form a sombre backdrop. Amidst all the angst and the pathos, though, there are some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments, which made me sense that the author must be great company on a night out on the town.Best character for me was Elly's fabulously bohemian aunt Nancy, a rambunctious delight who travels the world snogging any similarly-fabulous females who might take her fancy.And so the story rattles along nicely...*But*(Sharp intake of breath).The book kind-of loses its breezy mojo around the halfway point, when the grind of imperishable relationships and the promise of resurrection becomes its focus.I felt that the eponymous God/rabbit premise might have been developed further, and I would have loved for Elly to shed her circumspection for just some of Nancy's devil-may-care personality traits.That being said, the story overall is beautifully told and is a gorgeous read. My sudden admiration for Sarah Winman has already led me to purchase her latest novel 'A Year of Marvellous Ways.'Oh, and I LOVED the authorial add-ones at the back of the book - an idea that I intend to steal!

  • Faye
    2018-11-14 09:28

    I found this book when I was browsing in Kindle store. The title got me. It's a nice title. So I downloaded the sample and found it quite interesting but with a hint of "the style of writing I'm not sure I'd enjoy".I do like the main story; it's about the love and bond between a brother and sister, a family, friendships and love in all forms. It's a beautiful concept, really. But I'm afraid I cannot say I enjoyed the book as much, let alone reread it.To me it's like a big jigsaw puzzle and the author tried to put the pieces back together, but sadly some pieces were not put in the right spots or missing, even. I found chapters, paragraphs and lines that were unnecessary and just adding a bit more to the confusion that was already there. She crammed in a lot of big events into such short chapters, resulting in some left unexplored. There were times when I had to reread a paragraph or two (and sometimes even pages) just to really find out what she was trying to say - that's how vague it is - or which character(s) had appeared or been mentioned because she would just refer to them as She or He or We (leading you to an endless guessing game!), and the mystery would be solved paragraphs or pages later (there's actually an event in the book, where she and two others picked up a girl who was running away, and I still don't know who the other two were!).The first 10% of the book was enough to make me want to read more of it, but after I got past that I had to struggle to finish the rest. I'm so glad I've done reading it. That says all, doesn't it?

  • Tea Jovanović
    2018-11-22 13:28

    Guilty again :) This book "bought" me with just few sentences and I had to buy the rights and be its editor... :) I had that "something special" feeling I had buying the rights for THE CURIOUS INCIDENT... Unfortunately due to Serbian publisher the book hasn't reached all the readers it should reach... But it's never late! MUST READ! MUST READ! Hurry up! Debut jewel of coming of age novel... :) I rarely come across novels that give me such "discovery of new voice" thrill :)

  • Sharon
    2018-12-03 11:35

    I have just started this book and am absolutely loving it. It is a hilarious book, with Ellie being just too sharp and dry with her little asides. I honestly love a book that sucks me in - especially after that nonsense Fifty shades of Grey rubbish. This is one that I will lend, but will always demand to be returned.Just finished it today. I absolutely LOVED this book. There are some conversations in there that I have marked, as I think they speak such truth. One in particular about the last paragraph of page 141, which continues onto page 142. It reminds me of "The Velveteen Rabbit", where those deeper life mysteries are discussed within conversation between close friends.I love Sarah Winman's writing. The way she just puts in these unexpected hilarious little statements kept me laughing out loud. I wear reading glasses, and they kept fogging up at times. It made my mascara run, leaving my husband worried that I was upset about something!!!! The bonus material at the end was great to read as well. Being a teacher myself, I think that the way in which she describes her writing process, her encouragement to others to write, and her love of writing were fantastic.This is one book that must be read.

  • Chandler
    2018-12-08 16:42

    Part Onethe story of Elly as a little girl is magical, heart breaking, sweet, sad, funny, and in a few words: literary perfectionPart TwoI feel like, had this part of the novel been removed completely, this book would have been perfect. I think the most fascinating part about stories is not knowing the TRUE ending. About being left at one part of someone's life and imagining just what happened afterwards. By showing Elly as an adult, the mystery was lost and expectations were not met. The wonder and insecurity and confusion of childhood Elly is missing and because of this, part two just doesn't have the same impact.Regardless, the sheer perfection of part one makes up for any flaws of part two, and I would still happily recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a story about family, love, faith, and wonder.

  • Mark
    2018-11-28 15:43

    Sorry. This review contains a mini spoiler but I couldn't work out how to hide it so if you don't want any giveaway info you'd better ignore this one. However if you are continuing to read, thanks. Having read this for my local bookclub meeting this evening I am not quite sure what I would want to say. It seems to me that Sarah Winman is not quite sure what she is writing. Is it the story of family relationship both 'nuclear ' and extended, is it a treatise on gay relationships, is it an account of a brother and sister growing to adulthood across the latter part of the 20th Century and of course all of these can be totally harmoniously co-joined and indeed they are but the story comes off its rails because of the bizarre and unreasonable loading up of accidents of chance and fantasy as it goes on. When two of the characters,one of whom is besotted with the other, having been apart for years and having had no contact whatsoever, suddenly meet up at a party on another continent from the one in which they had originally met I immediately thought ' of all the parties in all the world you had to walk into one of mine'. I do appreciate that chance and co-incidence often plays an important part in love and romance but this grated as unbelievable. When the father, having all the time been banking on winning a large prize, does just that I thought unbelievable. When another character supposedly knew the time and manner of his death, a falling coconut,and at one point the very act happened but served not to kill him but to restore his sight I thought unbelievable. I could go on but though there is a good deal of really funny dialogue and some witty descriptions I found the overall affect dubious.Winman addresses beautifully the questions of love, fidelity, expectation and the ability of friendship whether sexually expressed or platonic to enhance and transform but i do wish she had written in a way that did not rely upon, in my opinion, a regular need to massively suspend if not belief then the over the top coincidence quotient. This story could have been written without them and in that way the story would not have been so much of an obvious novel. I found the characters endearing, maddening, stupid and amusing but they always remained obvious characters in a story. I never felt moved to believe in their independant existence which is bizarre since they were theoretically growing up as I was and their journey should have been mine

  • Lisa
    2018-11-13 10:45

    An amazing book - if it doesn't win a prize I'll be VERY surprised! Even though Elly is older than me, much of her childhood resonates with familiarity - watching the Generation Game and shouting out the prizes in excitement, the magic of polaroid cameras, chocolate teacakes and doing the pools! Elly shares not just a deep and binding bond with her brother Joe, but also a sensitivity and awareness of the world that seems to separate them from the world of their peers. They are, in everything, a team. The voice of Elly is so pure and magical, extremely evocative - I read the book on the brink of tears for the most part, simply because I could see everything do clearly, I felt I was an onlooker in her life. The love of the family permeates the story, they might not be conventional in the usual way - this becomes more apparant as the story goes on - but they are a very close unit. At times both Joe and Elly try to escape but they are always drawn back to the warmth and eccentricity of the family unit.There are some laugh out loud moments and some that make you tear up, it's a tale that rings of truth throughout, heartbreaking, poignant, hilarious, cruel, it's quite simply beautiful.After dissecting this for my book group I have to amend what I have written! Although I did enjoy the book and found it easy to read and involve myself in, the discussion I have since had has made me think more about it. I still stand by the above but would like to add that actually the story is pretty implausible - everything that could possibly happen to this family does, the author seems to have taken every plot under the sun and crammed them into this one novel,so whilst it does make for an exciting read, when you do step back and think, it does make it a less realistic. Also the 70's reminiscence is too modern in feeling. I don't remember much of the 70's but my fellow group members do and their feeling was that the things discussed so openly in the book would not have been in the 70's as everything was much more pushed under the carpet, politely ignored - the way that domestic abuse, homosexuality, child abuse is discussed in the book is much more post 90's than 70's. Again, some story lines are started but not adequately finished or even explained and as for God being a rabbit, the premise started off well but seemed to peter into nothng. Then, with reflection, Elly is annoying! She starts by being such a great little girl and develops into a big wet who can't hold anything down and is obsessed with a childhood friend she hasn't seen in years and her equally self-obsessed brother, but why this happens is only implied and supposed rather than told as fact. I think if more had been adequately explained instead of threads been given and then left hanging it would have been much more satisfying and if we had had a couple of major themes in the book rather than 101 we might have had more loose ends tied up. Yes, with hindsight it is rather fantastical, but if you like drama and high maintenance characters who have everything happen to them and it all turns out really well, then read it, you won't be disappointed - just don't expect much in the way of reality!

  • Elizabeth
    2018-11-15 12:37

    I can imagine that as a writer it is tempting to do too much in one's first novel and I think this is what's wrong with this particular debut. As many have commented, the first section is far better than the second. It is in the first section, however, that we get a taste for the unnecessary and somewhat sloppy storytelling that's to come. It annoys me greatly when an author glosses over the realities of life by making characters incredibly rich. I saw no need for the sudden, imprecise wealth that befell this family before their relocation to Cornwall. It seemed to serve only to answer potential questions and explain how it was no one really worked for the rest of the book. Still the book and characters seemed comfortable in England and there the story made sense. When Joe oddly appeared in New York as a banker, I grew worried. First a Princess Di mention and now this a Sept 11 foreshadowing. And it was well written and definitely evoked emotion (although that's relatively easy with this subject); but was it necessary? If anything it distracted from the heart of the story and relied on the reader's existing emotional connection to the event to tug at the heart strings.I read this book in a couple days on holiday and it suited that purpose well. I didn't dislike it, I was simply disappointed that no one encouraged the author to strip out the global events and concentrate on developing the characters she so lovingly introduced early in the book. There was enough there already.

  • Ben
    2018-11-12 09:48

    Every once in a while you read a book that passes straight into your bloodstream, and you are hardly aware of how it happened.When God was a Rabbit describes itself as the story of a brother and sister, "about childhood and growing up, friendships and families, triumph and tragedy and everything in between...about love in all its forms". That is a perfectly fair description as far as it goes. What it doesn't say is anything of the quiet and kindly magic with which Sarah Winman defines her characters.Elly, her brother Joe and her childhood friend Jenny Penny are all outsiders - not the angry and embittered kind, though, but the kind who know they are in some small way different, unique, set apart. They, their family, and the friends who become a part of that extended family may be fictional, but they have the immediacy and honesty and vibrancy of real people, and their lives have the ring of a true story. They are flawed, passionate, muddled, baggage-laden, generous, tragic, vibrant, good, above all human. They are the people we know, the people we are, the people with whom we want to surround ourselves.Elly and her family live through the events of the 1970s, 1990s and the early years of the new millennium - a shared experience for many readers, and one that rings true even at those points where are own memories are different. Winman has the particular gift for being able to spring a momentous event on the reader, whether historical or fictional, with all the unexpected impact of real life.And then there is the language. Winman has the eye for observation of a small child and the pen of a poet, but combines them with the technical skill and self-control to reserve her poetic imagery for the moments that really matter, big and small. The result is that we are never inured to her description, we never lose the sense of wonder or the ability to see the extraordinary nature of the ordinary.Read this book late at night, when the house is quiet and your defences are down. Let it work its magic. Drink in its imagery and its goodness and its sadness and its hope like a drowning man inhales the ocean. Let it into your DNA; let it enlarge and enrich your emotional vocabulary. Let it tell you that you are not alone.

  • christa
    2018-11-24 17:32

    Coming-of-age novels come with an absolution: They don’t actually have to be about-about anything. They can just be. A series of events, linked or otherwise, that start quirky and end artfully or in some combination of that. Sarah Winman’s debut novel “When God was a Rabbit” takes advantage of this convention. Technically it’s about a brother and sister; that sister and her best friend; that brother and his best friend with benefits. It has no plot line that looms, waiting to be solved, fixed, redeemed or rectified, instead it has episodes that must be handled before the next episode or just later. The story centers on Elly, a sassafrass little missy who auditions for the Christmas pageant with a monologue that references booze and abortions, lands the role of an innkeeper, then spontaneously changes the Christmas story mid-performance by assuring Mary and Joseph that there is plenty of room at the Inn, not to mention a view. She also has some thoughts on the illegitimate child. When a life-changing incident occurs, and Elly mentions it to her older brother Joe in an off-handed way, he handles it the best he can and then gives her a gift, a rabbit that she names God. God talks to her, not in the obnoxious way of, say, TV’s Wilfred. Just a sentence or two that provides direction either from his mouth or her imagination. Elly becomes best friends with Jenny Penny, a schoolmate with wild hair and a wilder mother. Jenny Penny is a little bit of a seer, as tamed and subtle in her art as the talking rabbit. Jenny Penny finds stability at Elly’s home and the two develop a thick bond that is severed when Elly’s father wins the lottery and moves the family far away to the country, to a house that looks like it belongs to rich people and will eventually double as a B&B. Elly keeps in phone contact, but eventually loses touch with her friend when Jenny Penny’s mom makes a bum relationship decision that has them scrambling for new identities and no forwarding address. Meanwhile, Joe goes off to school and later to New York and Elly is left to wander in the woods, delve further and further into herself and just get weird. There is a cast of characters who are taken in by the family: An elderly man with a host of wild stories from his past and a woman who croons showtunes and is most comfortable with a feather boa. In the second half of the book, lost characters return and characters become lost. Winman is a super skilled in the art of subtlety. A lot of the biggest reveals in the book are unraveled either without words or backward. Young Elly doesn’t tell Joe that she was molested by the next-door neighbor, rather she explains that she knows the difference between circumcised and not and her brother fills in the blanks. Two characters are missing, one calls, it takes half a page to figure out who is on the phone with Elly. And in a fun moment that epitomises her control with language: Winman writes a chaos scene, a party in which Jenny Penny’s mom is out front monitoring traffic and the girls are singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” along with a record. Eventually Jenny Penny’s mom’s lines sync up to the record and it is done so well and is so aural and visual that it’s fantastically exhausting and perfect. This was a good book, a quick read and a nice introduction to a new writer.

  • Diana
    2018-12-08 17:43

    Сара Уинман разказва много увлекателно, без да изпада в многословие, с изключително образен и точен език, кратки изречения и чудесни словесни попадения. Интимните сцени и тези с насилие са само загатнати, но въпреки това оставят тягостно усещане. Разсъжденията през очите на децата са по-малко наивни и повече - затрогващи, мили и мъдри. Въпреки чудатостите в нея, това е една много топла, човешка и истинска книга, забавна и весела, тъжна и жестока. Книга, в която няма нито една излишна дума, която хваща за гърлото и влиза под кожата. Влюбих се в нея, смях се с глас и плаках (последното, ако изобщо ми се е случвало, сигурно е било много, много отдавна).И още за книгата: тук.

  • Jules
    2018-12-04 11:48

    Firstly, this is a fiction book of two halves. First half I was loving the book and would have given it five stars. Second half – I loved it less so three stars. Rather than go for the average I’ll keep the overall review at three stars. Good book, unusual but messy – I will explain further.The fictional character of Elly is a real British girl. Born in 1968, she charts her life around popular culture and world events as she becomes self-aware and of what it means to be British, female and part of a loving family. As the book progresses into second half territory, Elly’s life becomes ultimately more complex. Life as an adult loses its sheen as reality bites and she becomes aware of the fact that adults can ‘crack’ under various guises and that nothing good is everlasting.In an un-chick-lit way, the author Winman paints characters that seem to live whimsical lives lived between fact and fable. In many ways, Winman’s Cornish landscape becomes a fantasy idyllic ‘no man’s land’ where time has no meaning. When the chaotic disasters of modern culture and modern tragedies like 9/11 are pipped against a family setting of a sleepy British backdrop then it’s no wonder that Winman’s characters become confused with the expectations of their own mental world. Quite literally – like Elly’s brother – they crack up and subsequent themes of nothingness are perpetuated in a spiralling mythical way. Hard for any reviewer to describe quite frankly. Bonkers in a nutshell.It with this then that I personally feel that Winman has gone too far with her work. At first, I found her characters, lovely, warm quaint and feasibly British with all their little quirks of decades gone by. In hyper adulthood, Winman stretches her characterisation like it’s on elastic and the themes, storylines and people are stretched far too much, in my humble opinion, to be believed and recognisable. It’s when a character ceases to be believable that a book loses cachet for me and I felt cheated on the fact that good characters were going to rot somewhere during the mid-second half. I love a book that pushes the boundaries and dares to be different but this book loses its ethic for me. I like good fiction but this is crazy-mad and a bit pithy, silly and desperate by the end.10 out of 10 for ambition but unfortunately 10 out of 10 for reader frustration. Sorry author!

  • Flor Méndez
    2018-12-03 09:33

    Me pone muy triste pensar en la cantidad de árboles que murieron para dar vida a este ENGENDRO

  • Lata
    2018-11-26 15:28

    The first half was pretty good. I enjoyed the writing and the characters. I had to force myself to get through the second half. I still liked the characters, but something had changed and I found this half a real grind to get through, and I was so happy to finally close the book at the end. First half was 4 stars, the second half was 2 stars, for an overall 3 stars, asI felt cranky by the time I finished the book.

  • Grace Harwood
    2018-11-28 15:38

    F Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote "character is plot, plot is character". Sarah Winman in When God Was a Rabbit, however, has decided to forego both. The characters, who could have been so interesting if fully formed, are half-baked, badly drawn, sketch outlines of characters, insipid and vapid, nothing substantial in them at all. The plot just isn't there. Where, I asked myself after nearly 200 pages of reading, is this story going? The answer - I didn't know - and worse - I didn't care. It was just meandering along, some questions being lifted into the mind of the reader, only to be abandoned and never picked up on again. To illustrate this point - early on in the book, the main character's brother asks how she knows about Mr Golan's penis. Good question - an interesting question, hinting at some trauma or tragedy which has befallen the heroine during her formative years. Sadly, by page 198, this question STILL had not been answered. It had just been glossed over. By page 198, I decided I didn't care all that much after all. I didn't like the heroine; the characters I did like, i.e. her brother and her supposed BFF, Jenny Penny, weren't formed or featured enough to save my interest, and I did something which I hardly ever do, and gave up reading. I know this book is bad, because generally no matter how dire it is, I'll always try and finish it. Here, in this instance, I failed. It makes my blood boil that books like this one: poorly conceived and executed, written by authors who are not writers at all but just thought "they'd have a go because how hard can it be" are picked up by companies like Headline and then shoved down enough people's throats to boost sales sufficiently to force it onto the best seller list. To add insult to injury there was then a section at the back of the book (albeit a short one) where Sarah Winman pontificates about her "life as a writer"; and then - even worse - there's a section on "Reading Group Questions" as if readers need to be told what to think anyway. This reader does not need 20 words to tell you what she thinks. I can sum it up in one: "DIRE".

  • Miljana
    2018-12-10 12:35

    Divna, duhovita i delom tužna priča iz ugla jedne devojčice o životu i odrastanju.

  • Blair
    2018-11-24 09:31

    This is one of those ubiquitous books that I ended up reading mainly because I kept seeing it everywhere, and it turned out to be a lot better than I thought it might be, given its obvious popularity. The plot revolves around Elly, who narrates the story, her brother Joe, and their eccentric family and acquaintances - most notably Elly's best friend, the strange and striking Jenny Penny. The book is divided into two halves - Elly's childhood, beginning in 1968, and her adulthood, from 1995 onwards - and these sections in turn are split up into lots of short chapters. The prose is fluid and delicately beautiful, and the characters are quirky and whimsical - except much less annoying, and much more likeable, than that makes them sound; they're not always believable, but they're engaging and colourful. The first half of the book is the best; it's quite magical and skilfully captures the wonders of childhood, the nuances of a child's thoughts and feelings, and the peculiar fascination of young friendship. The second half, picking up Elly's story after a gap of about 15 years, I didn't think was as successful, but I still found it both compelling and poignant. There were points when it reminded me of the two Siri Hustvedt books I've read this year - a pretty impressive achievement for a debut novel.There are a few problems, however. Elly often starts a chapter without mentioning who she's talking about for several lines or even paragraphs, and a number of times I had to either re-read (in case I'd missed a name) or skip ahead (to figure out who she meant so I could make sense of it). Lack of detail is a problem at other points in the book, the most obvious example being that Elly is sexually abused by a neighbour as a child, but as it's never directly referred to or talked about (until the very end, and even then we don't find out what actually happened), this is a weirdly indistinct detail and you never get any sense of how it has truly affected her. Perhaps the absence of the event, the unspoken-ness of it, is supposed to be the point, but I found it all much too vague - if your concentration lapsed for a couple of sentences you could easily miss that it had happened at all.I thought this book was gorgeously written, evocative and moving - but I did feel a little disappointed at the end. There's a curious coldness about the characters sometimes, and despite the vivid exploration of Elly's childhood, I didn't feel I knew much about who she was as an adult. There was a lot about how she interacted with Joe, Charlie, Arthur, Nancy et al, but hardly anything about what her own life amounted to apart from writing her column, which was only mentioned in passing anyway, and a one-night stand with a stranger. I couldn't even work out where she was actually supposed to live. I also felt a bit let down that Jenny didn't feature much in the second half, given her powerful presence in the first, and that the elements of magical realism weren't resolved/explained. Nevertheless, I would definitely recommend this book. It's full of big themes - love (more of the kind found between siblings and friends than the romantic sort, although there's a bit of that too), childhood and growing up, sexuality, mortality and bereavement, as well as the bigger world events going on in the background of all this, with 9/11 being particularly key. The scope of the story is huge, but Winman's light touch makes it very easy to read and it's incredibly beguiling; I found it instantly absorbing and read it very quickly.

  • Sam Woodfield
    2018-12-06 17:31

    I have just finished reviewing this for a major UK retailer. What a fabulous book! I havent read anything in a long time which has made me smile as much as this book, and draw on every other emotion I possess to supplement this.This story begins in the past, looking at the early lives of the main protagonists, and it is this section of the novel which sets the tone for the remainder of the story and lures you into the lives of the characters within. It is this section of the story which really reminds me of 'A Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night-time' with the characters innocence really dominating and drawing you into their lives and world, making it difficult to put this book down.As the novel progresses and the characters age it is difficult to cast this earlier innocence aside and it is this which draws you through the rest of the story. It was this section of the novel where my emotions really kicked in and I found myself sobbing and laughing all at the same time. The trial and tribulations of the characters really intensify in the second part of the novel, and there are moments of real tension and anxiety where your heart really goes out to the lead characters. Winmans earlier skill in creating her characters means that you are really engrossed in this section of the novel and go on the journey with the charcters.I would recommend this novel to anyone, young or old, male or female as I think there really is something in this for anyone. I do think this gives 'A Curious Incident..' a run for its money in terms of creating a young lead character who can draw you into their world and draw every single emotion possible out of you. A really fab read which I will certainly read again again.

  • Josephine
    2018-11-11 09:43

    There’s only one word to describe Sarah Winman’s “When God Was A Rabbit” — disjointed.If you read reviews on this and see critics describing it as having “an elegiac, simple beauty,” you can’t help but think that book reviewers like that serve only one purpose: to deter you from reading that book.The story is supposed to be about a brother and sister named Joe and Elly — but mostly, it’s about Elly, who, as a child, is whimsically drawn and makes you excited to read the book.As we hop, skip, jump through 30 years in their lives, we have fleeting snapshots of all of the personal calamities that strike them: cancer, suicide, murder, sexual abuse, domestic battery, accidental death, kidnapping, aggravated assault, bombing, mutilation, stroke, amnesia and the death of a pet rabbit named “god.”Honestly, you could take any one of those calamities and zero in your focus on that and still have a compelling story — instead, we’re left holding blurry pictures with a few scribbled words on the back that are meant to mean something to the reader, but ultimately doesn’t.

  • Emer
    2018-11-10 10:24

    ‘When God Was a Rabbit’ is a book about love and friendship. It tells the sibling love story of a brother and sister as they go from childhood to adulthood while also being an interesting dissection of family life as seen through the eyes of the youngest family member. The book is told through the point of view of Elly: initially as a young girl who sees the world with magical eyes and then as a grown woman who has become weary of spirit. The book is split into two halves; quite simply called part one and part two. Part one starts with the birth of Elly in 1968 and continues up until December 1980. From the earliest age Elly is portrayed as highly inquisitive and extremely capable. She seemed to have an almost ethereal or other-worldly feel about her and quite happily made conversation and friendships with adults; one such pivotal ‘friendship’ was that with her elderly next door neighbour Mr Golan who turned out to be a very mentally disturbed individual. Within the first few chapters we see the inappropriateness of this relationship with the young girl and something happens, a secret is shared, that shapes the rest of both Elly and her brother Joe’s lives. It is at this point in the book we are introduced to the character God from the story’s title. God is a pet rabbit that Elly’s brother gifts to her so that she will have a more appropriate friend and will not be lonely. A recurring theme throughout this book is Elly’s search for a real god or a better understanding of religion. The most focused upon relationship in this book is the one between Elly and her brother Joe. Joe is five years older than Elly and very protective of her. From her earliest age Elly viewed Joe as “an exotic creature”. He was a rank outsider who liked to quietly rebel against the conservative world. Joe was struggling with being gay in a time period when it was much more difficult to be so. Elly's love for her brother is absolutely beautiful and incredibly sensitively written. When events jumped forward fifteen years for part two of the novel I felt a little let down and I am truly honest, I almost wish they hadn’t. Part one was so magical and the language was so lyrical that I just got lost in the pages of Elly’s childhood and seeing the children as adults somewhat tarnished that happy experience for me. As I was so very anxious about reading the second half of the book perhaps my fear did colour how I responded to the second half. When we met Elly again it was 1995 and she was twenty-seven years old, running from job to job, having panic attacks and had not been in a stable and healthy relationship but did not seem to know why.Her brother Joe had run away to New York where he could feel freer and be more comfortably out. He still seemed to be burdened within his soul whether by a lost childhood love or by the secret that Elly had sworn him to keep and seemed to constantly be hiding from something. “You had to translate his actions, for they were seldom accompanied by words, because his world was a quiet world; a disconnected, fractured space; a puzzle that made him phone me at 3 o'clock in the morning, asking me for the last piece of the border so he could fill in the sky”A sense of knowing who you are and becoming comfortable with yourself was a great theme of this novel. It was interesting to see how their childhoods had created such complex and troubled adult characters but for me part two was not as moving as part one. It lost some of that feeling of magic; that ethereal touch that the author had so lovingly given to part one. However the plot was carried forward nicely and I sped through this section reading it twice as quickly as the first. The first section felt very languid; reading it reminded me of an afternoon of a hot summer’s day running into a warm night, everything was just so still and calm.I liked how certain political and cultural events were referenced in the book as helpful reminders of the time period e.g. John Lennon's shooting, the London docklands bombing, Princess Diana's funeral, 9/11 etc. It was also very interesting to see how these world events impacted on one small family.I really enjoyed this book. It had a wonderful other worldly quality to it and it was a heartfelt account of the trials and tribulations of a family. It really demonstrated how a person’s whole world really just revolves around a very small number of people: those who you are related to and your closest of friends. Perhaps as a negative you could say this family experienced one or two too many shocks, tragic events or catastrophic life events…it is like the whole gamut of bad experiences are put into this novel, from sexual abuse to hostage taking to amnesia, and sometimes it seemed as if these events were only put in place to shock. However, to give the author their due, each was used as a wonderful plot device and I did enjoy the journey of life that Elly and her family took within the pages of this book. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves reading beautiful, descriptive prose.Three stars

  • Kim
    2018-12-10 10:25

    Oh wow, such a great story!

  • JChipol
    2018-11-22 17:28

    Elly and Joe are "two halves of a whole"; sister and brother. Their shared secrets and longing for acceptance & love binds them together tightly and inextricably. Both have friends that change their lives along the way; including both Jenny Penny, Elly’s childhood friend, and Charlie, Joe’s first love. Both must learn to overcome their losses as well, but Elly knows it’s their relationship and companionship that holds them steady. When God Was a Rabbit is a story of childhood and growing up; friendships and families, the loss of innocence, triumph and tragedy and everything in between.Joe is the one who gives Elly her rabbit, which she calls God (much to her teacher's horror) and Joe is the one who helps her through the difficult things in her life. He keeps her secrets safely tucked away. He is her "love interest" in a purely wholesome and normal way. There were some very funny parts to the book, and it started off quite promising. I especially loved the Nativity fiasco in which Elly's friend Jenny is adamant to play the part of an octopus and Elly changes the bible story to enhance her own part in the play; a debarcle which ultimately causes the resignation of a teacher and the death of baby Jesus. This part of the story made me laugh out loud, but maybe that’s more a reflection of my Catholic school experiences rather than excellence in writing. Even so, I genuinely enjoyed the first few chapters, but, sadly the book doesn’t live up to its early promise.This book was highly recommended to me but though I thought it was ok, I can’t say that I enjoyed it as much as I was expecting; I loved the title, I loved the concept, but the book was in the end quite disappointing. It was as if Sarah Winman was trying to put too many concepts all in one book (9/11, the death of Princess Di, Homosexual, platonic and family love, as well as child abuse, love lost, sexual awakenings, cancer, death and post traumatic amnesia) Every theme was a big one and each deserved more exploration; it all seemed a little too clumsy and, as a result, nothing was explored in enough depth.I would say this book is diverting and probably worth a read if you don’t want anything too taxing. A good beach read, and worth a look, but just not my thing maybe.

  • Ferdy
    2018-11-26 09:20

    2.5 starsReally liked the setting and the focus on childhood and family. Loved pretty much all the secondary characters, they were all quirky and unique, but not in an obnoxious way. Didn't like Elly so much, she was a weird, needy, pathetic main character who was obsessed with her older brother. Also, the second half threw in way too many issues, the whole amnesia, 9/11, cancer and prison thing, and most of it wasn't handled very well.

  • 5inabus
    2018-12-08 14:35

    This is a beautiful book. I haven't laughed out loud so often, and with such genuine pleasure, since last year's Comedy Festival. And that's saying something, because this book isn't comedy at all; in fact, much of it is tragic and heartbreaking. But this is what makes 'When God was a Rabbit' unique; a book to treasure. It takes the most difficult situations (child neglect, abuse, first love, loneliness, anxiety, separation and loss) and without making light of any of them, deftly skews the picture so that what is illuminated is not so much the tragedy itself, but the human errors along the way, common enough to all of us as to be both instantly recognisable and... well, tragically funny. It would be too cliched to merely call this 'black humour' - Winman has achieved much more than that. I'm left with the feeling that maybe all family histories, no matter how bleak, bland or banal, are worthy of being told - so long as you can just find the right voice. I think of how many books I read each year that deal with grief, triumph over adversity, "epic sagas" and so on, and I invariably take much away from them. But I don't always enjoy the process. When God Was a Rabbit offers a story that will resonate long after you forget the details, but it's also an absolute pleasure of an experience. I only have one gripe with this book, and that is that I've bought three copies so far and none has stayed resident on my shelf for longer than a week. Admittedly, I keep giving it away, but still - that's a fair warning to any of you who may unwittingly fall into the same trap after reading this book!

  • Hannah
    2018-11-27 12:36

    I really enjoyed the first part of this book, and thought I was on to a really insightful journey into becoming an adult. But I ended up becoming severely disappointed by the rest of it starting from the point in the story which essentially went "And then Daddy won the pools so we all moved to a big house in the country, ran a B&B and our lives were fine". It touched slightly on Eleanor's father's apparent addiction to gambling, which was interesting, but then dropped it and that was that.The whole thing from that point on read like a "this happened, and then this happened" kind of story you get told by small children, and the strange characters in it which were supposed to be quirky and idiosyncratic weren't nearly developed enough so when bad things happened to them I just didn't care. The part describing 9/11 was interesting, but turned out to have nothing at all to do with Eleanor's brother who happened to work in the World Trade Centre, as he had wandered off, got attacked and couldn't remember anything. This was random to say the least, and the fact that we never find out what happened to him is more than a little dissatisfying. I ended up speed reading to the end and feeling glad to start another book.

  • Indri Juwono
    2018-11-16 17:25

    #2011-45Rasanya memang nggak biasa kalau kamu punya kelinci yang dikasih nama ‘god’. Atau ‘tuhan’. Atau mungkin kita saja yang nggak terbiasa untuk mengerti sekeluarga yang tidak percaya Tuhan. Mungkin kita bisa bilang aneh. Mungkin juga tidak. Keluarga dengan ayah dan ibu atheis, anak lelaki gay, tante lesbi, anak perempuan dengan rahasianya, sahabat perempuan yang masuk penjara, dan hadiah undian yang amat besar.Dari awal ceritanya memang agak aneh dan penuh teka-teki. Banyak rahasia-rahasia yang disembunyikan dan tidak terungkap. Atau mungkin sebenarnya tersirat, tapi tidak tersurat. Agak aneh memang, karena kelihatannya buku ini cerita kehidupan keluarga yang diceritakan di atas.when god was a rabbit : dari kalimatnya menjelaskan satu masa, ketika keluarga ini punya kelinci bernama ‘god’. Lalu apa istimewanya? Apa kelebihan kelinci ini? Apa ia seperti Edward Tulane di The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane Apa bedanya ketika ada ‘god’ dengan tidak ada ‘god’ (kelinci, maksud saya). Sepertinya keluarga ini tetap berjalan baik-baik saja. Jadi apa istimewanya kelinci ini? Mungkin ia hanya dijadikan satu simbol, penanda masa kecil.Then what?? *bacanya geregetan*Cerita ini menarik, tentang keluarga unik. Ngebayanginnya kalau film ini difilmkan mungkin seperti film The Kids are Allright, tentang 2 anak yang diasuh sepasang orangtua lesbian. Drama yang unik. Tapi saya tidak bisa menikmati ceritanya. Apa cuma saya yang merasa demikian? Kenapa beberapa kalimat saya pasti mikir apa ya kalimatnya dalam bahasa inggris..Maaf buat penerjemahnya yang kebetulan saya kenal. Kalimat-kalimatnya terasa ‘terjemahan banget’ dan agak tidak mengalir. Apa kata-kata dalam kalimat-kalimat asli tidak bisa diganti menjadi satu paragraf baru ya? Saya sih tidak tahu etik penerjemahan, tapi apabila dalam penerjemahannya kata per kata ini menimbulkan kekakuan (salah makna sih, tidak) apa boleh agak dibetulkan begitu? Maaf, karena saya bukan penulis juga, hanya pembaca, jadi kurang bisa memberikan saran kalimat.h.127. scene : menatap ruang kosong yang ditinggalkan sebelum pindah.Tidak ada piano untuk bermanuver; lukisan untuk mendandani tembok, atau karpet bertekstur berat untuk menghangatkan lantai batu. Tak ada lampu duduk yang menyembunyikan bayangan di sudut seperti penumpang gelap, atau peti kayu besar era Victoria yang berisi linen serta sachet-sachet lavender, dan berusaha keras menyingkirkan kelembaban selama bulan-bulan musim dingin. Tidak, semua itu belum kami punyai, tapi akan menyemarakkan hidup kami kelak.Tidak ada piano yang bisa kami kelilingi (jika maksudnya manuver adalah itu), lukisan penghias dinding, atau karpet tebal penghangat lantai batu...Tidak, semua itu belum kami miliki,...h.152. scene : di perahu.Kutelungkupkan tangan di depan alis, sinar matahari menusuk dan menerpa permukaan air, menyoroti buih yang centang perenang. Saat itu salah satu hari pengujung musim panas, baik alam maupun Joe merespons. Ia berbaring di lapisan jok dan menutupi wajahnya dengan topi memancing. Kutudungkan tangan di atas mata,...menyoroti buih yang centang perenang (maaf dengan sering digunakannya kata ini akhir-akhir ini, saya nggak ngerti apa sih artinya centang perenang? Saya kira sejenis kondisi tali..).. hari penghujung (atau memang pengujung yang benar?) .. maupun Joe merespon (tanpa ‘s’)...h.163. scene : di halaman.Hari itu musim panas dan cerah, hari pertamaku melihat Mr. Arthur Henry berjalan memasuki desa mengakibatkan banyak mulut ternganga dan gosip Cornish yang bermacam-macam di siang hari. Ia mengenakan linen rangkap empat, kemeja bergaris biru dan kuning, serta dasi polkadot merah muda yang sangat besar hingga lehernya hampir tak terlihat. Ia membawa tongkat di satu tangan dan surat kabar di tangan sebelah lagi. Lalu sesekali ia mengibaskan tawon yang tertarik pada wangi manisnya bebungaan yang menguar dari kulit pucatnya.Apa sih gosip Cornish atau linen rangkap empat? Mungkin perlu ditambahkan catatan kaki di sini.Back cover :Sementara itu, Elly memiliki rahasia besar yang disimpan erat-erat dari orang tuanya dan hanya diketahui oleh kakaknya, Joe. Tuhan jelas tidak sedang bermain dadu dalam hidup Ellie. Namun, ketika kemudian seekor kelici muncul dengan nama GOD, kehidupan Elly dan keluarganya pun berubah.Elly dan Ellie. Apa nama panggilan bisa tidak konsisten dalam penulisan verbalnya? Kalau di dalam percakapan, mungkin bisa. Tapi kalau kalimat biasa, mungkin lebih baik tetap konsisten. Apalagi ini back cover.Rahasia-rahasia yang ada di awal cerita, apakah terungkap di akhir? Kalau saya baca sih terungkap, namun dalam kondisi masih dirahasiakan (dari pembaca, untuk tokoh2nya sih, terungkap). Apa tabu untuk diungkapkan dengan gamblang? Rasanya enggak. Apa memang ceritanya begitu? Sengaja dengan gaya teka teki? Seperti menyembunyikan sesuatu yang dialami tokoh utama dengan menceritakan drama bertahun-tahun. Isu yang mau diangkat menjadi tidak kelihatan, tentang atheis dan rahasia Elly, tenggelam dalam kejadian-kejadian yang dialami keluarga ini, pindah rumah, gay, penjara, homeschool. Mungkin juga cerita ini ditulis tidak untuk menceritakan isu itu.Mungkin hanya tentang hidup.

  • Kerry
    2018-11-25 12:39

    A wonderful book about magic, life, family, friendship, love, tragedy, violence and growing up. It's a story about Elly, predominantly her relationship with her brother and the friendships and family around them. Their lives are peppered with incidents that are laugh out loud funny at times and tear inducing at others. Set against a backdrop of what was going on in the world during those times, especially tragic incidents. Sarah Winman writes beautifully and invites you into the lives of her characters with consummate ease. I great read that is hard to put down.

  • Mia Prasetya
    2018-11-10 12:30

    When God Was a Rabbit memiliki magnet tersendiri buat saya, dari judulnya yang 'nakal', cover hangat ditambah dengan latar pasangan siluet laki-laki dan perempuan. Awalnya saya pikir WGWaR adalah buku drama yang manis. Salah besar ternyata :pWhen God Was a Rabbit adalah buku drama komedi satir yang kompleks. Pahit sekaligus juga manis. Terbagi menjadi 2 bagian, yang pertama memoar Elly saat ia kecil dan bagian kedua ketika Elly menginjak usia yang ke 27. Tulisan Sarah Winman langsung terasa 'megang' sejak awal kisah. "Apakah Tuhan mengasihi semua orang", tanya Elly kepada mamanya."Tentu saja""Apakah Elly mengasihi pembunuh?", rupanya Elly belum puas bertanya."Ya""Perampok?""Ya""Tinja?""Tinja bukan mahluk hidup, Sayang", kata Mum serius."Tapi, kalau iya, akankah Tuhan mengasihinya?""Ya, kurasa begitu." - halaman 9 -:DSaya jatuh cinta dengan karakter Elly, gadis kecil yang kritis, bolak balik saya dibuat tersenyum dengan pertanyaan ataupun kalimat yang ia ucapkan. Seperti yang ada di pikirannya : Aku sudah menetapkan bahwa bila Tuhan ini tidak mengasihiku, sudah jelas aku harus mencari Tuhan lain yang bisa (hal12).Kesatiran When God Was a Rabbit tampak jelas di halaman 18, ketika Elly mulai menjalin persahabatan dengan Mr. Golan, tetangganya yang 'katanya' orang Yahudi. Ia ingin menjadi orang Yahudi, pertanyaannya ke Mum, "Katamu aku boleh jadi apa saja yang kumau kalau sudah besar.""Memang, tapi menjadi Yahudi itu tidak mudah lho.""Aku tahu. Aku butuh nomor."*hening*Tapi kegembiraan saya tidak berlangsung lama, halaman 20an ada kejadian yang tak terduga yang mau tak mau membuat saya mengambil kesimpulan buku ini bukan buku biasa.Ayah Elly adalah seorang Atheis. Joe, kakak lelakinya yang lima tahun lebih tua sedari kecil suka memakai lipstik mamanya di saat malam tiba. Tantenya juga memiliki disorientasi seksual. Walaupun WHen God Was a Rabbit termasuk dalam kategori 'light read' tapi isinya berat. Pelecehan seksual, kanker, penculikan, mutilasi adalah sebagian dari permasalahan yang ada di sekeliling Elly.Membaca When God Was a Rabbit seakan-akan saya menonton film Indie, original dan di luar standar pakem drama pada umumnya. Kaget juga saya ketika tahu ini buku adalah buku pertama Sarah Winman. Kalau yang berminat membaca buku yang lain dari yang lain, When God Was a Rabbit patut dicoba, jangan terkecoh dengan judul dan covernya. Buku ini berkisah tentang keluarga, cinta, tragedi, kehilangan.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.Indeed.Salut untuk Penerbit Bentang yang jeli menerbitkan buku ini ke bahasa Indonesia di saat yang tepat, sedang hangat-hangatnya nih di bookdepository.com selain buku karangan Georde R. R. Martin - serial Game of Thrones. Masalah terjemahan? Masih perlu diragukan kualitas mbak Rinurbad? :)4 bintang.