Title: The Rabbits
Author: Sophie Overett
Published: July 2nd 2021
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Literary
Rating: 2 stars
From the winner of the Penguin Literary Prize and the Kathleen Mitchell Award.
A multigenerational family story with a dose of magical realism. It is about family secrets, art, very mild superpowers, loneliness and the strange connections we make in the places we least expect.
How do you make sense of the loss of those you love most?
Delia Rabbit has asked herself this question over and over again since the disappearance of her older sister, Bo. Crippled by grief, Delia and her mother became dysfunctional, parting ways not long after Delia turned eighteen.
Now an art teacher at a Queensland college, Delia has managed to build a new life for herself and to create a family of her own. Only more and more that life is slipping: her partner, Ed, has gone, her daughter, Olive, is distancing herself, and, all of a sudden, in the middle of a blinding heatwave, her sixteen-year-old son, Charlie, disappears too.
Suddenly what was buried feels close to the surface, and the Rabbits are faced not only with each other, but also with themselves.
The Rabbits is a multigenerational family story with a dose of magical realism. It is about family secrets, art, very mild superpowers, loneliness and the strange connections we make in the places we least expect.
‘You’re stuck with me. My magic daughter. Your magic brothers. We’re the Rambunctious, Riveting Rabbits, aren’t we?’
Award winning writer and cultural producer Sophie Overett took out the much-lauded 2020 Penguin Literary Prize for her debut novel The Rabbits. Published by Penguin Books Australia on July 2nd 2021, Sophie Overett’s unique narrative combines magical realism with suburban life in contemporary Australia. The Rabbits is a startling story of loss, change, trauma, strained relations and connections.
A tale about loss and how to deal with the fallout from a traumatic incident, The Rabbits is a story of all-encompassing family love. Haunted by the shock disappearance of her older sister Bo, Delia Rabbit continues to struggle with the loss of her older sibling. Plagued by grief, Bo’s disappearance has had a direct impact on the relationship between Delia and her mother. As a result, the two have remained distanced since Delia turned eighteen. Delia tries to move on and create a new life for herself far away from the stresses her family’s dysfunction. Delia has achieved success in her working life through her employment as an Art Teacher at a college in Queensland. But Delia is still haunted by the loss of her sister, which has also impacted her marriage and children. When Delia’s daughter, husband and son all disappear from her embrace, Delia must confront her past family issues head-on. What emerges from this drama filled tale is a cross generational story tinged with conjecture and secrets.
A novel with a strong literary slant that places the spotlight on trauma, loss, grief and dysfunction in families, The Rabbits is the first novel from award winning writer Sophie Overett. The author bio on the opening page of The Rabbits declares that Sophie Overett is a passionate storyteller of all formats, including magical realism, literary fiction and horror. The Rabbits sees this new author display her tenacity as an experimental author via her debut novel. The Rabbits offers the reader quite a surreal experience, while also capturing the simple or mundane elements of general life, along with family dynamics. Reflective, meditative, quirky and creative, I appreciated the intent of this novel much more than the overall execution. Unfortunately, as magical realism is genre I struggle with, I experienced some difficulties in connecting to and fully understanding The Rabbits. This one baffled me!
Sophie Overett’s first novel has gained a lot of literary and media recognition so it is well worth sourcing a copy of this novel if you appreciate a literary approach to a modern fiction tale.
The Rabbits by Sophie Overett was published on 2nd July 2021 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Rabbits, Sophie Overett, visit here.
*Please note that a free copy of this book was provided to me for review purposes through Beauty & Lace and Penguin Books Australia. To read the original review on the Beauty & Lace website please visit here.
The Rabbits is book #82 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge