Tag Archives: jasper fforde

The Constant Rabbit

Speculative fiction about an England where rabbits are anthropomorphic

Content warning: discrimination, disability

I’ve mentioned this author a couple of times on here previously: once when I saw him speak at an event and got my book signed, and when I reviewed one of his books. I really enjoyed hearing him speak about writing funny books, and he is one of the few authors who makes me laugh aloud. While we are all waiting eagerly for a sequel to his novel “Shades of Grey”, I was thrilled to see that he had a new release this year and even more thrilled that it appeared to be about rabbits. I don’t think anyone would be surprised to know that I love rabbits and without even reading the blurb this book had considerable appeal to me.

Image is of the cover of the book “The Constant Rabbit” by Jasper Fforde pictured with my brown and white rabbit Ori. Her ears are in a similar position to the ears on the book’s cover.

“The Constant Rabbit” by Jasper Fforde is a speculative fiction novel about an alternative England with anthropomorphic rabbits. For over 50 years, rabbits have been able to walk upright, speak, have jobs, start families and have become the target of considerable discrimination. Public servant Peter Knox works in a seemingly innocuous job and lives an unassuming life with his daughter in a small village. However, when two rabbits and their children move in next door, Peter must confront his past and his own role in the anti-rabbit policy to force England’s rabbits to move to a MegaWarren in Wales.

Image is of the book “The Constant Rabbit” by Jasper Fforde standing upright next to my brown and white rabbit Ori who is losing patients with being photographed

I was absolutely the perfect audience for this book and I enjoyed it from start to finish. This was a really amusing book that had me laughing aloud at multiple points. However, it is also a really clever book and the rabbits are a fantastic allegory for racial politics in the UK today. Fforde presses the reader to consider the whole spectrum of bigotry from failing to speak out against discriminatory jokes all the way to outright violence and vilification. It was also really interesting to see how Fforde interwove typical British politeness with conservative, exclusionary views. Peter was an excellent, complex character who struggles to reconcile his own progressive views with the system he implicitly supports through his work. The interactions between himself, Constance Rabbit and her husband were among the funniest parts of the book. I also really liked the way Fforde wrote about disability focusing on individuals and accessibility rather than the particulars of the disability itself. Fforde also leaves plenty to the imagination when it came to how rabbits became anthropomorphic, though I loved the interlude of an alternative history for the Big Merino in Goulburn.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable and extremely relevant book and I cannot wait to see what Fforde comes up with next.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fantasy, Magic Realism, Science Fiction

Shades of Grey

Not too long ago, I went to see Jasper Fforde speak at the Australian National University. He was kind enough to sign my battered copy of his book “The Eyre Affair”, and it was great hearing him speak. I was telling a friend of mine about this and she highly recommended another book of his called “Shades of Grey” (not to be mistaken for the infamous BDSM-lite novel “Fifty Shades of Grey”). I was browsing my local Dymocks store recently and Fforde’s name caught my eye with a little tag underneath his book that said ‘signed copy’. I couldn’t NOT buy it.

“Shades of Grey” is set in a dystopian future England where people can no longer see all the colours in the visible light spectrum. Society has been stratified based on what colours you can see, with purple being at the top and red being at the bottom. People who cannot see any colour at all are the Greys, and they are more or less used as slave labour. The main character is a Red called Eddie Russett who has been sent to a backwaters town called East Carmine to conduct a chair census while his dad works as the new swatchman (i.e. doctor). Eddie suspects that he had ruffled a few feathers after playing a prank and concentrates on getting himself back home to his wealthy, semi-betrothed sweetheart. However after he meets the mysterious and extremely volatile Grey called Jane, Eddie’s priorities take a dramatic shift.

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This book was an absolute breath of fresh air. Sometimes when I’m reading, I get a little bogged down in the idea that everything has been done before and nothing is a new idea. If you ever get stuck in that kind of mindset, drop everything and read this book. It is so original and wild and clever, and I’ve said it before, but Jasper Fforde is pretty much a comedian who writes his jokes rather than saying them. The concept of this book is so unique and the execution is almost flawless. The world of Chromatacia is hilarious, arbitrary and disturbingly still a lot like our own.

There’s nothing much else to say about this book except that if you like fantasy or mystery or science fiction or dry British humour, then you’ll get a kick out of this. Jasper Fforde’s novels defy classification, and this is a book that I think most people would get something from.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fantasy, General Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction, Signed Books