Bunny bunny bunny. They dominate our culture in very specific ways, be it around Easter, or in regards to the Fibonacci sequence. But what if they actually gained sentience and joined our society? Jasper Fforde’s The Constant Rabbit interrogates exactly that question. Known mainly for his Thursday Next series featuring a book-travelling special agent, which starts with The Eyre Affair, Fforde is no stranger to the absurd and satirical. While some of his work can be very hit or miss, I was very excited to pick up this newest foray into a Britain full of human sized rabbits.
Many thanks to Hodder and the Bookfairies for the ARC in exchange for this honest review.
RELEASE DATE: 02/07/20
STAR RATING: 3.5/5 ✶
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 . . . (from Hachette)
OPINIONS: So, The Constant Rabbit is insanely funny. I kept laughing out loud while reading the book, and I don’t do that very often – I’m much too awkward as a person. It also holds up a mirror to society, and it is not a pleasant image to see. The anthropomorphised rabbits are not very different to humans at all, but they are not accepted as part of society, and completely ostracised. Once a family does move into a space reserved for humans, and break these invisible barriers, all hell breaks loose, and the humans who refuse to participate in the institutionalised hate suffer the consequences just as much as the rabbits do.
In that respect, it is a very timely novel. More timely now that when it was written, to be honest. It is a satire on xenophobia, using allegory heavy-handedly to underline the very real problems that do exist in contemporary Britain. But it is still a Jasper Fforde novel, which means it is very, very weird, and tends to drag at times. There is a focus on plot over character relationships, which I tend to have trouble connecting to. This is a pattern that is visible throughout his writing, and still I keep going back for more. I don’t know if I’ll ever learn, but his concepts are always incredibly intriguing!