Before I flew out of Cape Town in December; my brother Mike and his man, Gareth, gave me a Christmas / Bon Voyage (yet again) gift – a book entitled ‘When God Was a Rabbit’ by Sarah Winman. Mike had mentioned this novel to me a few months prior and initially I thought it had something to do with religion – a philosophical look on how religion affects our society…bla bla bla. However, you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover…especially in this case!
In between working busy yacht charters, resigning from my job on MY Solaia to take a break to travel before starting on a new yacht and having fun in between; I dived into the pages of this beautifully nostalgic book. Yes, it did take me about a month and a half to complete it but it was like when you slowly savor a sinfully decadent treat. You just can’t help but smile as you take a moment for the sensory experience to settle after each mouthful.
The novel’s back cover sums up what this Rabbit God business is all about:
“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 its forms.”
The novel tells Elly’s story from her birth into adulthood focusing on her relationships with her family and friends. I particularly loved the mutual understanding between Elly and her brother, Joe. Throughout their childhood, adolescence and adulthood; these siblings have a mutual understanding and unconditionally love and support one another. Phone calls from across the globe at 3am reveal this strong bond. Thank goodness for technology! During tough times when profanities are thrown at each other in hurt or confusion, it is understood, accepted and worked through with honest comments that only siblings can frankly say.
Every family has its eccentricity…some more than others, as depicted in the novel (I won’t spoil it for you – read the book!). When I think of my family, I love our history, the unique characters on their own journeys and then of course, some twisted, almost unbelievable skeletons that sneak out of the woodwork.
This novel was especially nostalgic of my childhood with my brother Mike. We have been referred to as the ‘Wilter Buddies’ by some. Yes, we are a very tight sibling unit but we have had our moments. I bit his bum once [in complete self-defense!] probably after he had thrown yet another earthworm down my back and he once dragged me by my hair through the park down the street. On my first day of high school, he showed me where my locker was and since then we have been a solid unit. He’s my number one man, my constant best friend who is always there to be my Dr Phil when I need him wherever I am and at whatever time. From drunk devastated boyfriend drama 2am calls at Rhodes University to ‘what am I doing with my life?’ and ‘What should I do?’ frantic messages from me somewhere in the world to Mike back in Cape Town via Skype, Gmail, Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter [Yes, we are very techno-savvy]. In turn, I have also been at the other end of the line. A sister knows when something is wrong, when her brother is not himself to a worrying degree. One night after a dinner with friends, I actually made Mike pull over the car into a nearby sports field parking lot and kindly demanded that he tell me what the hell was going on… Look how far we have come since then 🙂 Life is just grand for both of us at the moment. Cheers to happy days!
Currently, Mike and Gareth have left their stressful lives in Cape Town in search of an adventure away from corporate offices and public politics. They have chosen life and are backpacking through 11 countries in 4 months from Chile all the way up to USA. I am so excited and happy for them taking this big leap from their comfort zones after months of careful planning. I hope to meet up with them somewhere along the way soon.
Back to the book though – I absolutely loved this beautiful novel. The Observer aptly describe it, “Captivating…rendered with an appealing frankness, precision and emotional acuity”. It made me laugh hysterically and at other times filled my eyes with tears (in awkward public airports and coffee shops). Thank you, Mike, for such a special gift that epitomizes us.
Love you Morks!xxx