When God was a Rabbit

When God was a Rabbit

Fiction & Poetry, Modern & Contemporary Fiction
Paperback Published on: 12/05/2011
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Bookseller Reviews

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When God was a Rabbit
Once an Actor
Not the first novel of a sometime actor, full still of her profession, but the second. The first never made it to the shelves. Wrong? Probably not, since W... READ MORE
David Learner


Sarah Winman's bestselling, critically-acclaimed debut novel, When God was a Rabbit, continues to captivate and enchant readers.


The year Paris takes to the streets. The year Martin Luther King loses his life for a dream. The year Eleanor Maud Portman is born.

Young Elly's world is shaped by those who inhabit it: her loving but maddeningly distractible parents; a best friend who smells of chips and knows exotic words like 'slag'; an ageing fop who tapdances his way into her home, a Shirley Bassey impersonator who trails close behind; lastly, of course, a rabbit called God.

In a childhood peppered with moments both ordinary and extraordinary, Elly's one constant is her brother Joe. Twenty years on, Elly and Joe are fully grown and as close as they ever were. Until, that is, one bright morning when a single, earth-shattering event threatens to destroy their bond forever.

Spanning four decades and moving between suburban Essex, the wild coast of Cornwall and the streets of New York, this is a story about childhood, eccentricity, the darker side of love and sex, the pull and power of family ties, loss and life. More than anything, it's a story about love in all its forms.

  • Publisher: Headline Publishing Group
  • ISBN: 9780755379309
  • Number of pages: 352
  • Weight: 240g
  • Dimensions: 196 x 128 x 26 mm

Customer Reviews

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When God was a Rabbit
Go for it.
Didn't know what to expect from this book, certainly what I got surprised me but after a slightly confusing start it soon developed into a fascinating tale... READ MORE
Heathrow flyboy
When God was a Rabbit
A true account of life occurrences.
'When God Was a Rabbit' is a novel about the happenings in Elly's and her brother, Joe's life together and their resulting reactions. Winman writes a story... READ MORE
Anonymous 8
When God was a Rabbit
Absolute tosh!
What do people see in this book? Every cliche possible about 'whimsical' family life roped into a story - I could have predicted the cast of characters bef... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
Quite a good read
I enjoyed this immensely at first with the light storytelling revolving around a childhood friend 'Jenny Penny', and her brother's sexuality. Both of which... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
When God Was a Rabbit
THis is a very readable book, but one that does not always live up to its promises. I found the structure a little confusing at times in its attempt to set... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
Decent debut with much nostalgia
Starting in 1968 we follow the narrator, Elly, through an almost idyllic childhood with much of the playing out and anecdotes that I recall from my own fun... READ MORE
La Vie on Books
When God was a Rabbit
Loved it, would definitely recommend!
When God was a Rabbit
When God Was a Rabbit
This was an easy read, nothing too deep or complicated. The story flits between happy, sad, funny and tragic moments if the narrators life. I found the end... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
a lovely funny family story
When god was a rabbit- a strange title for a remarkable book. We are allowed to glimpse the strange world of Eleanor Maud and her family and friends and of... READ MORE
Carol Edelston
When God was a Rabbit
when god wa a rabbit
i loved it from arriving and starting to read it i couldnt put it down really heart warming story i loved it ;)
When God was a Rabbit
A great first novel
This is a story of family and friendships, starting in the 1960's to the present time of the book. It tells us how they grow from child to adult, and the e... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
Charming, but the point?
I noticed the word charming used before when describing this book. And it's pretty much spot on! I admit, I was a little confused about the plot of the boo... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
Stunning debut novel!
This book is a fabulous debut novel from Sarah Winman. It follows the story of Elly, the narrator, through her life, and retells the events she dealt with ... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
I LOVED this book!
I am not really a big reader and am never sure whether I will enjoy different books, but this one was superb. I thought the story was brilliant and really ... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
A must read!!!!!!!!!
This book is fantastic, you are gripped from the very beginning. It's a moving book that will have you caring for the characters like you know them. I woul... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
When God Was a Rabbit
Having seen good comments about this book, I was really keen to get stuck into it. A story told in two parts and narrated by Elly, the novel follows her ch... READ MORE
Caroline Colley
When God was a Rabbit
Surprisingly Good!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, despite initial misgivings as I thought it was about something completely different! It is a book full of humour (so many L... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
Take the Journey... It's Worth it!
For me this book started off quite slowly, but it wasn't long before I was sat on the shoulder of the main character as she took me through her life from c... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
I enjoyed this but it may be of my generation.
I really rather liked this book, especially the way it was "anchored" in the 80's, 90's and 00's by reference to world events. Some parts made me laugh out... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
Love and Loss
When God Was A Rabbit is one of Waterstone's Top 11 for 2011 and that recommendation plus its wonderful title attracted me to this very impressive debut no... READ MORE
Teresa Majury
When God was a Rabbit
MUST read!
A seriously touching, heartening, emotive book which had me laughing out loud and fighting back the tears in equal measure. Sarah writes in a terribly whol... READ MORE
Sarah-Jayne Windridge-France
When God was a Rabbit
A good read but ...
A good read but I got to the end and felt that there wasn't really any 'point' to it, so a little disatisfied perhaps. But would still recommend.
C. Peake
When God was a Rabbit
Pure beautiful brilliance
This book is very well written it flows so easily, you feel as if you truely connect to the characters and can relate to the events. This book made me laug... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
Brilliant debut novel!
When God was a rabbit is Sarah Winman's first novel and i will be eagerly anticipating her next one. I liked the way in which the book is split into two ha... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
exciting new book
This is a honest book that at first has a simple, childlike feel and as the plot moves to adulthood the simple childlike feel is maintained. Events are hin... READ MORE
Vanessa Thompson
When God was a Rabbit
I loved this book from start to finish and struggled to put it down. It made me both laugh and cry. The story is told by Elly and is mainly about the relat... READ MORE
Mary Lea
When God was a Rabbit
A book to make you smile
A story about love, loss, families and a rabbit. An eclectic cast of characters make this a truly enjoyable read. I laughed out loud and I cried. A book y... READ MORE
Sue Incles
When God was a Rabbit
Charming, Powerful and Enjoyable
The story is presented in two halves, first as a child then as an adult, the first half being a more pleasant experience than the second, which feels much ... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
This book didn't really do it for me. Yes, it was quick and easy to read and the narrative flowed, but as I worked through part 2, I found myself looking f... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
Not For Me
Oh dear, I seem to be in the minority about this book. I've given it 2 stars, but that is purely for the first half of the story, the second half would bar... READ MORE
Anne Cater
When God was a Rabbit
Hmm, not a great read...
I read this book for two reasons: Firstly - I had heard so many good things about it Secondly - It was the first read of a book club I have just joined. Al... READ MORE
Fiona Sharp
When God was a Rabbit
Readable but lacked substance
This is a quick easy read, I found the first half of the book much more enjoyable that the second. There are some beautifully written similes but also some... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
A friendship of a Brother & Sister
When God was a Rabbit is a story of a relationship between a Brother (Joe) and his Sister (Elly). It is all about their childhood and through into adulthoo... READ MORE
Lou Graham
When God was a Rabbit
Best book I have read in a long time!
I have to be honest and point out that I bought this book on a whim when searching for a holiday read. I always refer to my rabbit as God and the title lit... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
Amazing debut novel
I chose this novel because of it's title and because it was written by a new author. The title sounded a bit different and intriguing. I simply LOVED the w... READ MORE
Barbie Dunford
When God was a Rabbit
A must read first novel!
When God Was a Rabbit is an incredibly sharp and witty observation of family life told from the perspective of a young girl growing up. Cleverly written, w... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
A contemporary, modern read
Eleanor Maud, or Elly, as she was known to her friends and family, grew up in the seventies, along with her older brother Joe, whom she adored. After a tra... READ MORE
Anne Watkinson
When God was a Rabbit
Promising debut novel
A truely charming book. Its been ages since I've been completely absorbed by a book, but with a lovely blend of heartfelt emotion and humour this book mana... READ MORE
Emain Mhacha
When God was a Rabbit
A marvellous read
what a wonderful book,a story which captivates the reader throughout.It describes a sister's unconditional love for her brother.There are many likeable cha... READ MORE
Diane Barritt
When God was a Rabbit
Another 'Curious Incident..'?
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 supp... READ MORE
Sam Woodfield
When God was a Rabbit
Once you're in you'll find it hard to put down...
A curious title drew me in and an even more curious start got me hooked. This is a tale of love, friends, family and of an innonce lost that grips the sou... READ MORE
AvidReader and Now Sarah Winman Fan
When God was a Rabbit
A page turner!
When god was a rabbit is Sarah Winman's first novel and I am very excited to see what comes next. The story is narrated by Eleanor and looks closely at the... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
give this book a chance
I only picked this book up because of the tittle but the content was not what I expected. The story is much more than just a story of a brother and sister ... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
If you want a book to lose yourself in, read this
I can't remember where I saw this recommended, but probably would have been attracted to it by the title anyway. Its the story of an unconventional family,... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
Fascinating read
I found this interesting to read. The inter-play of the main characters was well written. Seeing them develop from childhood to adulthood, given what they ... READ MORE
When God was a Rabbit
An absolute treasure of a read
4.5* When God was a Rabbit is fantastic. I could not recommend it more highly. Ellie and her brother Joe are growing up in the suburbs in the 1960s. We j... READ MORE
Nic Johnston
When God was a Rabbit
This is Sarah Winman’s début novel first published in 2011. It tells the story of a family and follows sister and brother Elly and Joe, across four decades... READ MORE
Bridget East
When God was a Rabbit
When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman
When God Was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman is a book about family and friendships from 1968 onwards. It is the story of one flawed family and the events in thei... READ MORE
Christine Rennie