The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde
Hodder & Stoughton, 2020. ISBN: 9781444763638.
(Age: Adult). Recommended. Jasper Fforde is back with a satirical, absurd but surprisingly relevant novel, The Constant Rabbit. Known for his Thursday Next series helmed by The Eyre Affair, Fforde is no stranger to outlandish and humorous stories. What he has managed to do with this book however is to intertwine the ridiculous with the less savoury aspects of recent times.
Set in an alternate England where rabbits have anthropomorphised into six feet tall talking humanoids, The Constant Rabbit centres on Peter Knox, a mild-mannered father living in a small village who is forced to make a moral choice. Peter works for the Rabbit Compliance Taskforce and his job is to ensure the largely segregated rabbits are following human laws and living peaceably in society. When Prime Minister Nigel Smethwick of the UKARP (United Kingdom Against Rabbit Population) party announces a plan to forcibly move all rabbits into a facility in Wales, Peter is torn between his job and the concerns of his fellow villagers and his increasingly complex relationships with rabbit neighbours and friends.
The novel paints the picture of a society where xenophobia, paranoia and "fake news" are the norm. The story is an irreverent but clear dig at contemporary British society where racism, anti-muslim and anti-immigration sentiments and Brexit concerns have dominated the social and media landscape in recent years. It is a challenging though excellent read and the reader will be constantly pulled between the witty, dry jokes and the realisation that the plot is hitting too close to home. This book is recommended for fans of Fforde's previous work as well as those who enjoy cutting but humorous observations of human life. Themes: Rabbits, Xenophobia, Humour, Satire, United Kingdom.