I am especially excited to be featuring Sarah Winman's book, WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT today. When I was first approached about reading this debut novel, right away, the title caught my attention. I thought Where in the world is this book going to take me? With a title like that, it's bound to raise some eyebrows, right? Once I reached that moment in the book where I understood the title, it made perfect sense. (I love those Aha! moments!)
On the TLC Website, it states that. . . 'This is a book about a brother and a sister. It’s a book about best friends, the secrets forged in childhood, and starting over; about triumph and tragedy, and everything in between. More than anything, it’s a book about love in all its forms.'
It is that and so much more. The story begins in 1968 in England where we meet Elly, her older brother, Joe and their doting parents. They are a loving family, but not without their issues. The bond that develops between the two siblings is the basis for this remarkable story. Early on, we learn of an event that happens and the result of that act becomes the cement that binds them together through loyalty and secrets. Elly has an equally special bond with her best friend, Jenny Penny, who is a fixture in her life, even though not always a physical presence. The secrets and promises that bind the two girls is another beautiful part of this story. It is truly a testament to lasting relationships and loyalties.
Over the years we follow this family through good times and bad, from England to America and we watch as their relationships develop. Its a great story about how life brings people together and the power of true friendship. In a word, this is a story of love.
From the very first pages I knew that I had made the right decision to read this book and that I was in for a treat. It was written in two parts: Elly as a child and then as an adult in the second half. Part One had much more humor, which I liked right away. Much of it was dark, ironic humor but it really did work with the story and I enjoyed that aspect of it very much. There were moments when I'd laugh out loud and then think, Oh my gosh, I shouldn't be laughing at that! But I just couldn't help myself. The writing overall is what won me over. The lyrical phrasings that Sarah Winman used throughout the book were so beautiful I would re-read them and take the time to let them sink in. For me, that's the mark of a good writer and I appreciate that in her work. Part Two of the book was more serious than the first and we really got to know the characters as mature adults and saw how the family had developed and dealt with the many challenges along the way. It was moving and heartfelt and I loved it.
There are many wonderful characters and relationships that were so believably written, it made me wish I was a part of their group. They were so tight-knit and devoted to each other, even when miles and oceans separated them. Obviously, I loved the characters of Elly and Joe, but I also admired their Aunt Nancy for her unwavering loyalty and unconditional love. Another favorite character was Arthur, a 'true' older gentleman, who becomes a fixture after staying at the family's Bed & Breakfast. I especially loved his relationship with Elly and his free spirit that really shone when his old friend Ginger came to visit. The special bond between them was undeniable and it once again made me want to be included in their clan.
WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT is the kind of book that leaves you with a warm feeling even though there is also a fair amount of tragedy and heartache. I really enjoyed the book and I will definitely be watching out for more from Ms. Sarah Winman. Not only will I not hesitate to pick up her next book, I highly recommend this one to anyone looking for a great story.
Thank you TLC Book Tours for including me in this tour and giving me the opportunity to read this special book. You can find more tour dates for WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT here. Please be sure to check them out.
Author: Sarah Winman
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Published: May 10, 2011
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Source: TLC Book Tours