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The Constant Rabbit

Jasper Fforde

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 ( Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton

Published : 2nd July 2020 

Copyright : Jasper Fforde 2020

ISBN-10 : HB 1-4447-6362-8
ISBN-13 : HB 978-1-4447-6362-1

Publisher's Write-Up

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...

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Nigel (010620) Rating (8/10)

Review by Nigel
Book Source: Publisher
Rating 8/10

In Jasper Fforde’s latest novel we are invited to imagine a world where just under a million anthropomorphised rabbits live side-by-side with humans; unfortunately, this interspecies relationship is not as harmonious as it should be. Most of the rabbits are forced to live in colonies with their rights to travel strictly controlled. Only a hundred thousand or so are allowed to live outside the fences, cohabiting, so to speak, with humans.

The United Kingdom Anti-Rabbit Party (UKARP) is currently in power and the Prime Minister, Nigel Smethwick, has very clear views on rabbits and their place in the world. To circumvent cunicular[1] criminality, and ensure obedience, rabbits are monitored by the Rabbit Compliance Taskforce, or RabCot.

Our protagonist of the piece, Peter Knox, lives in the idyllic English village of Much Hemlock with his daughter Pippa. Much Hemlock is everything an English Village should be and not being a home for rabbits is one of them thank you very much. It therefore comes as a bit of a shock to the village and the Parish Council when rabbits take up residence in the house next door to Peter. While not doing anything illegal it is thought it would be better if the rabbits ’moved on’. To this end Peter is persuaded to mediate, see how the land lies and how much it might cost to reach this amicable and sensible solution for everyone, except perhaps the rabbits. However, we learn Peter is a decent human being and isn’t that sympathetic with the other residents of the village, quite the opposite in fact.

The situation is somewhat complicated as Peter also works for the Western Region Rabbit Compliance Taskforce which is responsible for the 150,000 residents living in the hills above Ross. Peter is a Rabbit Identification Operative, or spotter, for RabCot; a gene anomaly allowing him to tell rabbits apart, which is harder than you might think.

Peter working for the system while also caring about people, be they rabbits or humans, gives us the main theme for the story and the extreme excesses some people will go to maintain what they believe is right, however corrupt and insane it may be.

In using rabbits as the object of irrational hate Mr Fforde has written an interesting novel displaying the human condition in all its glorious absurdity, thereby allowing observation without direct offence – except maybe to rabbits. The story had some very funny moments but also delved into the darker side of human nature and at times was emotionally graphic.

Wonderful wordplay as always from a Jasper Fforde novel and a joy to read. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, The Constant Rabbit is a subtle as a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster[2] and as much fun. That said it is not the best work of Mr Fforde in my opinion and might just be a bit too wacky for some. I would personally recommend any new Jasper Fforde readers check out Shades of Grey first – you will then become a lifelong fan of Mr Fforde’s work and won't be able to get enough. You should then read The Constant Rabbit and understand it for what it is – an enjoyable but none too subtle commentary on the madness of our times.

[1] We had to look it up as well. “Of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a rabbit.”
[2] The effect of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is described as "like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon, wrapped 'round a large gold brick." It has also been described in the HHGTTG as "the alcoholic equivalent to a mugging; expensive and bad for the head."

Nigel (1st June 2020)

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