By: Jasper Fforde
Peter Knox lives quietly in one of those small country villages that’s up for the Village Garden of the Year award. Until Doc and Constance Rabbit move in next door, upsetting the locals (many of them members of governing political party United Kingdom Against Rabbit Population), complicating Peter’s job as a Rabbit Spotter, and forcing him to take a stand, moving from unconscious leporiphobe to active supporter of the UK’s amiable and peaceful population of anthropomorphised rabbits.
I have a difficult time reviewing Jasper Fforde’s books. I enjoy them so much and am not the best at conveying why that is. The Constant Rabbit is satirical and, at times, can be uncomfortable as it shines a light on how poorly people react to other people’s differences. It made me think about the world while also making me laugh, which was precisely what it was supposed to do. It wasn’t funny like an Onion article, though, so keep that in mind if that’s your only experience with satire.
Knox is a middle-class man who lives in the same little village he was born in. He considers himself a good man, definitely not a leporiphobic. Knox has no issues with rabbits. Sure he works for a large government agency that barely even tries to hide their agenda against the rabbits. He’s only doing it to support his family, though. He’s a perfect representation of someone who is apathetic to the world’s ills that haven’t hurt him.
When a rabbit family moves in next door, his life ends up taking a turn, and he’s suddenly forced to see, first hand, what they have to live with. It’s a slow eye-opening for Knox. He’s not a leporiphobic after all. He’s a good person who just happens to have probably not the best job.
There were parts of the book that were hard to read. It was frustrating because the things that were done to the rabbits were so absurd but still believable and comparable to real-life systemic racism.
The Constant Rabbit is one of my favorite books of 2020. It was blunt and clearly said things I’ve thought in a way I never could. Fforde is such a talented writer, and I’m so glad I was able to read this book.
One of my favorite quotes in the book:
“…Humans have a very clear idea about how to behave, and on many occasions actually do. But it’s sometimes disheartening that correct action is drowned out by endless chitter-chatter, designed not to find a way forward but to justify petty jealousies and illogically held prejudices. If you’re going to talk, try to make it relevant, useful and progressive rather than simply distracting and time-wasting nonsense, intended only to justify the untenable and postpone the real dialogue that needs to happen.”