Title: When God Was a Rabbit
Author: Sarah Winman
Publisher: Headline Review
Publication Date: March 2011
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Spanning four decades, from 1968 onwards, this is the story of a fabulous but 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.
Sarah Winman has been at the top of my favourite authors list for years, but until now, I hadn’t read her debut novel. After receiving a copy from a close friend over the holidays, I was thrilled to jump into Winman’s writing once again, and I wasn’t disappointed. This beautiful book is full of many themes, some difficult and some light. This literary work ultimately explores the sibling relationship between brother and sister, while addressing concepts of family and friendships, trauma, coming of age, and relationships.
Winman’s prowess with a pen that I adored in Tin Man, is present even from her first novel. Her protagonist, Elly, is quirky and instantly likeable. We meet her as a child and follow her through to her adulthood. She has heavy secrets that she doesn’t know how to deal with, and the shadow of that hangs over her from childhood into adulthood. She grows up a bit of a loner, but for one close friendship with a girl, Jenny Penny, whose own family dynamics are complicated. And that’s putting it lightly. Although these children’s friendship takes a few turns and is often distant, especially in the later years, Elly’s life is shaped by her relationship with Jenny Penny.
The number one stand out thing about this book is that it’s classically Wiman’s style: eloquent, emotive, electric. Her writing is art. It flows so naturally and so beautifully, yet it doesn’t shy away from it’s imperfections. The characterizations are tangible, robust, and so very real. I honestly can’t get enough of this author. If you’re looking for something new to read, go out now and pick up something, anything, by Sarah Winman and I can promise you, you won’t be disappointed.