When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman

I heard about this book a while ago and the title interested me, so of course being the organised individual that I am, I put it on my “to-read” shelf on goodreads. I’ll admit I didn’t entirely make a special effort to find this book but when I stumbled upon it in my local library, I was eager to read it. However this book can be summed up in one word: average.

I will start with my praise for this book. I really enjoyed the character: Nancy, she was interesting, though a little naughty: “my sexuality is fluid”, although she was a little unrealistic as EVERYONE loved her and EVERYONE always wanted to be around her all the time. I personally don’t think it is possibly for someone to be loved by everyone all of the time, I don’t think you can please everyone all of the time, that is vital.

I also loved the nativity chapter in the book, it was hilarious, her audition was also funny. Then of course Winman had to take it too far (as she often does during the novel) and kills the boy who plays Jesus as he falls on a paper mache rock…really?! That is what you get often throughout this book, it just gets pushed too far.

The title is what drew me to the book, it’s good, memorable. However it does not fit into the book at all! The girl has a rabbit for a few years of her childhood (bear in mind, the book is written mainly about her adult life). Winman could have linked the title in better with what she was written about perhaps.

I also thought this story was highlight unbelievable. I know what you’re thinking, it’s a fictional book, it’s meant to be unbelievable. I would disagree. Too much happened in Elly’s life for it to be remotely realistic, that’s what I didn’t like. I know it’s fiction but it was too fictional…so much so that he became distorted and unbelievable. Every character had their own extreme back story and then when it was all put together it was just too much. There was no one in this novel who was normal. That put me off it, I’d say most people have seen things in their life but most people are quite normal, so why is it reflected so differently in this novel? In this novel it kind of presents the idea that no one is normal, everyone has been to prison, everyone’s really close to their brother, everyone drops out of school, everyone has a famous relation, everyone’s family has a least 3 homosexuals in it, everyone is friends with the girl at primary school whose mother is a prostitute, everyone’s family relations were in some way affected by 9/11, be they dead, everyone gets very drunk when they are upset…and so on.

One thing which completely put me off this book, I was enjoying it until this happened. Elly was feeling depressed, but hey, why feel happy when you can cry and get drunk?! Elly decided that she would have sex with a random guy, I kind of stuck me that perhaps Winman wanted a sex scene in the book, it certainly came across that way. Anyway, she is talking about his “cock”, not a nice term, but I’ll accept that. It’s when she refers her own body part as a “c***”. After this happened, I had very little time for Elly and the rest of the novel, after this I just wanted to get the book finished. It’s one thing using it as an insult, sure it’s nasty, but when a grown woman refers to her own body part as that, that’s when you know there is something wrong. That whole scene was cheap and nasty and a bit too much like porn. Elly should have had classy sex, she should not have sunk that low. It made Elly seem dirty from that point on and I had very little regard for her.

Elly and her brother also swear a lot to each other and it just wasn’t necessary. It just made them sound a little bit feeble in my eyes. Anytime they were faced with a problem they got incredibly drunk and that was that, they never dealt with anything which is irritating for the reader.

There are certain characters in the book that I was not satisfied with. They were interesting but Winman didn’t provide enough about them in the novel. As a reader I would have liked to have known more about Arthur as he was very interesting, and Ginger. The reader also never really fully learns about Jenny Penny’s childhood which I would have liked to have known, or about the crime which Alan committed, I would also have liked to have known about that.

Overall, this book started off good but then I thought that all the storylines mashed together just made a story too made up to be satisfying. It was the derogatory words that put me off.



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