The Constant Rabbit
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.
Reviewed on 24th July 2020
I am a big fan of Jasper Fforde’s work, and so have been looking forward to this ever since I heard the intriguing title. It’s a coincidentally well timed novel being released in 2020, but clearly inspired by some of the real world events and politics of the past few years.
Anthropomorphic rabbits have, through means comedically unexplained, come to live in the UK alongside the human population. The rabbits seem quite happy about this, but a number of the humans don’t really think they should be in their village.
Fforde uses the vehicle of comedy to tell a story that shines a quite blatant light on some of the absurdities of modern society. There’s not a lot of subtlety going on with the allegory - although the humour has some.
I really enjoyed reading this. The world-building is weaved cleverly in as usual - I think of Fforde’s world’s as just the smallest nudge away from our own, and this one’s nudge clearly starts “What if rabbits…” and ends up putting a big mirror in front of our society. But despite the seriousness of the subject matter, the tone is often light, the humour omnipresent, and the things that go unsaid are also perfect.