The Constant Rabbit…
About the Book:
Jasper Fforde’s new fantastical satire: what happens when a family of human-sized, human-like rabbits moves in next door?
Peter Knox lives quietly in one of those small country villages that’s up for the Village Garden of the Year award. Until Doc and Constance Rabbit move in next door, upsetting the locals (many of them members of governing political party United Kingdom Against Rabbit Population), complicating Peter’s job as a Rabbit Spotter, and forcing him to take a stand, moving from unconscious leporiphobe to active supporter of the UK’s amiable and peaceful population of anthropomorphised rabbits.
‘The language of division can always be monetised.’
This novel is an absolute highlight of my reading year. Honestly, it was utterly brilliant. The best way I can describe it is as a fantastical political satire that is both completely bonkers and specifically insightful. And, it’s a pure delight to escape into. I desperately would love to see it as a movie but only if it were made exactly as it is in the book – word for word, character for character.
‘Don’t let yourself be tempted by the bun’s mild temperament and apparent peaceful nature,’ he said without answering my question. ‘That “cute and cuddly victim of human’s domination” stuff they do? It’s bullshit. It’s not sunny meadows, warm burrows and dandelion leaves they’re after, it’s majoritisation, assimilation and domination. And they could win out, if left unchecked. Promiscuity is not just their raison d`etre, it’s their secret weapon. A LitterBomb is a very real and present danger, and once the supply chain of stockpiled food is successfully coordinated by the Underground, the word will go out. Before you can say Lapin `a la cocotte you’ll be outnumbered, outvoted in your own nation, working for a rabbit, taking orders from a rabbit, worshipping at their altar and living the lapine way – it’ll be lettuce for supper, dinner and tea. Do you want that?’
I probably don’t need to state this but I will anyway, the rabbits are of course a metaphorical representation of any group that is considered ‘other’. In this case, they are another species, but I think this really worked so well to highlight the ways in which minority groups can be treated as though they are another species. There were times throughout this novel where I wondered if the real problem with the rabbits was their ‘aggressive veganism’ more than the fact that they were actually giant rabbits. They chose to live by a different set of values that were very much grounded in not eating meat, they also worshipped a different deity, and their family size was significantly larger than the average human one; all things that were viewed as very threatening to the order maintained by humans. You should already be seeing the connections to reality poking up out of all of this.
‘Incremental change comes from incremental action.’
‘Incremental is enough?’
‘It’s the most most people can do. We’re not all revolutionaries, but enough people challenging the problem can make a difference.’
As well as being enormously entertaining, there are some really important themes raised within this novel. Peter takes a journey that many can relate to. He doesn’t feel that he is leporiphobic (anti-rabbit), but he becomes aware as the events of the novel unfold, that he has in fact been maintaining a life that is leporiphobic, from his work through to his unconscious attitude – akin to what we call casual racism. The slow dawning of this and how it manifests itself in his actions was really well done and something many of us can relate to and think more deeply on. He’s a bit of hero in the end, Peter, in many different ways, and I was really on his side from the get-go.
‘Perhaps that’s what satire does – not change things wholesale but nudge the collective consciousness in a direction that favours justice and equality.’
To fully enjoy and appreciate the intent of this novel, you really do just need to let go and take it as it comes. It’s speculative fiction but can’t be pegged as science fiction or fantasy as such. It’s kind of like Roald Dahl for adults. I loved it to bits and I missed reading it once I was finished. I don’t get that all too often, so that in itself should indicate to you how much I admire this novel. It was just so incredibly imaginative and clever. I’ve deliberately left some surprises for you. You’ll know what I mean if you read it, but as a hint, giant rabbits are not the only minority species to feature in this novel. I’ll leave it at that. Enjoy!
Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of The Constant Rabbit for review.
About the Author:
Jasper Fforde spent twenty years in the film business before debuting on the New York Times bestseller list with The Eyre Affair in 2001. Since then he has written another twelve novels, including the Number One Sunday Times bestseller One of our Thursdays is Missing, and the Last Dragonslayer series, adapted for television by Sky. Fforde lives and works in his adopted nation of Wales.
Visit Jasper’s website, www.jasperfforde.com, find him on Facebook, www.facebook.com/jasperffordebooks, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jasperfforde.
The Constant Rabbit
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
Released 30th June 2020