Archive for December, 2011

When God was a Rabbit – or maybe not . . .

When God was a Rabbit – a little bit ambiguous but we all generally thought that this would be quite a religious book. In some ways it was, but the general story is centered around a young girl and her family in the 1960s, (not actually about God when he was a rabbit. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t but I’d have loved to have read about it if he was!).

This is the blurb on the back of the book:

This is a book about a brother and a sister. It’s a book about childhood and growing up, friendships and families, triumph and tragedy and everything in between. More than anything, it’s a book about love in all it’s forms.

I was intrigued by this at first and couldn’t wait to find out about all of the above. You can imagine my disappointment when all of these were covered, but none at any great depth. As I prepared for book group I was excited about the meeting – it’s nearly Christmas and I was bringing mince pies – but shouldn’t I have been more excited about the book? Yes, I should have, BUT – I have to admit that during the meeting, once we’d chatted and discussed, I actually changed my mind and decided that I did quite enjoy some bits. More so than others, but nevertheless I can say that I did enjoy it.

The first half of the book covers the life of Elly – a young, naive little girl with a rather overly excited friend called Jenny Penny. We see Elly growing up and dealing with various struggles and life changing experiences. It was interesting to see those experiences through such young eyes but they were all things we are familiar with. There weren’t any new issues being brought to the table. As we trundle along we begin to see the bond between both her and her brother and also see the bond within her family. There are street parties and nativity plays but once again, nothing out of the ordinary. After a stroke of good fortune Elly is separated from her friend and is whisked off for a better life in Cornwall. In the second part we see Elly in her older years. Many of her worries and problems from her childhood have vanished but new ones seem to arise. Such is life. A majority of the group decided that the first half was much better than the second. Some of the events in the book were interesting as everyone could relate to them in some form, but sometimes it felt as though such events were ‘thrown in’ to ensure that the reader didn’t nod off. Take some bits out, add a few bits in and hey presto – a jolly good book.

Overall, the general feel for the book was quite a positive one. We neither hated it, nor loved it, but rather thought it was quite a pleasant read. There were many issues and areas explored in the book – abuse, terrorism, amnesia, loyalty, love despair and hope – but having so many areas to cover in one book can take away the feel and direction and a few readers felt that there was just too much going on. Disjointed in areas, stories that drifted off with no answers and a large jump in the timeline seemed a little ‘off putting’ and took away the flow and intrigue of the story. As a group we felt that as a whole book it lacked consistency, but when we separate the different parts of the book and look at them more closely, we enjoyed the excellent one liners and quite frequent thought provoking scenes. There was even some humour thrown in there with the nativity scene a clear favourite.

It was a nice book to finish on for the year and I hope that 2012 can continue to bring some excellent people, books and discussions. Our next book isĀ As Far as You Can Go by Lesley Glaister and we shall be meeting on Tuesday 3rd January.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Here’s to 2012!

About the group

The Tees Valley Book Group meets at Stockton Central Library at 6.30pm on the first Tuesday of the month.

If you would like more information about what the group is reading, please visit


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