Monday 22 June 2020

The Constant Rabbit - Jasper Fforde

England, 2020.

There are 1.2 million human-sized rabbits living in the UK.

They can walk, talk and drive cars, the result of an Inexplicable Anthropomorphising Event fifty-five years ago.

And a family of rabbits is about to move into Much Hemlock, a cosy little village where life revolves around summer fetes, jam-making, gossipy corner stores, and the oh-so-important Best Kept Village awards.

No sooner have the rabbits arrived than the villagers decide they must depart. But Mrs Constance Rabbit is made of sterner stuff, and her family are behind her. Unusually, so are their neighbours, long-time residents Peter Knox and his daughter Pippa, who soon find that you can be a friend to rabbits or humans, but not both.

With a blossoming romance, acute cultural differences, enforced rehoming to a MegaWarren in Wales, and the full power of the ruling United Kingdom Anti Rabbit Party against them, Peter and Pippa are about to question everything they'd ever thought about their friends, their nation, and their species.

It'll take a rabbit to teach a human humanity . . .

What did I think?

I've been expanding my reading genres to include fantasy novels recently and Jasper Fforde's new standalone novel, The Constant Rabbit, caught my eye.  With his previous novels having humourous literary themed titles, I've wanted to read a Jasper Fforde novel for a while and The Constant Rabbit is a great introduction to the bestselling author.

You've got to expect the unexpected when giant rabbits (and a few other animals) are living and working among humans.  They may have human attributes, as in the ability to walk and talk, but they still have their animal instincts.  So putting a fox in charge of the Rabbit Compliance Taskforce is really just asking for trouble! 

Jasper Fforde's humour is evident throughout the novel, from laugh out loud funny to more subtle quips.  I particularly liked the Star Wars references and always find them a welcome addition to any novel.  I made a note when I was about a quarter of the way through the book: 'Animal Farm on crack'.  That pretty much sums it up and like Animal Farm, The Constant Rabbit does have some serious and thought-provoking issues at its heart.

When a rabbit family moves into the village of Much Hemlock, the villagers just want to get rid of them whatever the cost.  I was so mad that the rabbits weren't accepted in the village, simply because they were rabbits, giving a prejudice and discrimination slant to the story.  Written with such satirical humour, I guess it can be as light or as dark as you want it to be as I would never have imagined saying a novel about talking rabbits is very thought-provoking.

One thing that simultaneously amused and annoyed me were the footnotes.  When reading on kindle, the footnote wasn't always on the same page so I often missed the humour by reading the note a few pages after the point it referred to.  When the note did appear on the same page they were a brilliant addition to the story, but I don't think they really worked in kindle format.

The Constant Rabbit is witty, satirical, highly original and cleverly thought-provoking.  It encourages further discussion and consideration of how anyone 'different' is perceived and treated on sight without even getting to know them.  I'm so pleased that I have added fantasy to my reading genres as The Constant Rabbit is a gem (lettuce) of a book.  Well I had to get a rabbit pun in there somewhere!

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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