Jasper Fforde ‘The Constant Rabbit’ Book Review

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Most readers will grasp the fact that this book is not going to be about Bugs Bunny.  Jasper Fforde’s unique trademark of invective wit and critical observation cover politics, racism, sexism, bureaucracy and libraries.  Actually the library in the village of Much Hemlock has reverted to the old card system but is still afloat despite very tight restrictions.  Some reviewers say this book is a departure from Fforde’s usual style but I disagree.  Jasper Fforde has always been out-there, although his unique writing charm has become more prominent since Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett left the room.

The main protagonists are village newcomer Constance Rabbit and long-time residents Peter Knox and his daughter Pippa.  Despite cultural differences, they meet in the library and become friends.  And the book title?  I thought it had something to do with “The Constant Gardener” by John le Carré but in a Zoom interview via Avid Reader Bookshop, Brisbane, Mr Fforde himself said that it refers to people rabbiting on, e.g. constantly talking – so there you go.

Rabbits rarely lie,” said Pippa.  “They take their greatest pride in preserving most strongly the parts of them that aren’t us”. Thus rabbits walk tall but do lean towards the tonal qualities of Beatrix Potter so it’s a shock when UKARP United Kingdom Anti-Rabbit Party rears its ugly head, ready to enforce rehoming of rabbits to a Mega Warren in Wales.  Things don’t look good for Connie but she’s not going to hop away.  Can sharing her difficulties with her neighbour cause romance to blossom over a lettuce salad?  But wait, average bloke Peter hides a dark secret.

Jasper Fforde Zoom Chat The Constant Rabbit 2020 Image
Jasper Fforde reads a portion of his new book The Constant Rabbit during Zoom interview via Avid Reader Bookshop, West End, Brisbane, Australia in July 2020 https://avidreader.com.au/products/the-constant-rabbit-1

As the byline reads “It’ll take a rabbit to teach a human humanity…” and for any reader with an open mind that’s what this book achieves.  Situations run parallel to today’s world like a surreal split in the time-continuum, engaging satire and brazen behaviour with apprehension and alarm.  It doesn’t take much effort to transpose our current social and political climate over the chapters.  It rapidly becomes clear that the intertextual remarks are meaningful and at times confronting.

Like the home-created experiments that lived and breathed in Thursday Next (in earlier Fforde books Pickwick the Dodo was made from a kit) Connie’s large family had not been the only animals caught up in the 1965 Spontaneous Anthropomorphising Event.  Six weasels, five guinea pigs, three foxes, a Dalmatian, a badger, nine bees and a caterpillar suffered disorders.  What happened to them is succinctly explained. 

Chapter “Searching in vain & Shopping in town” Connie talks about her acting career and lets slip a few movie names. There’s even a dig at the Playboy Bunny era.  I could have done with more illustrations as per previous books but real product brand names and clever wordplay are liberally sprinkled throughout the story; and organisations like TwoLegsGood, Rabxit, and RabCoT exist alongside old-school references, a mixture of “jolly good chap” and 2020 tactile sensibility.

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Part illustration taken from frontispiece drawn by Bill Mudron of Portland, Oregon USA (and my cast-iron rabbit)  https://www.billmudron.com/

What I like about Fforde’s writing style is the wry humour, he tells it like it is – with a twist.  The smarmy Senior Group Leader, Mr Torquil Ffoxe does not escape being lampooned for about forty permutations of the double ff in his name when “All, without exception, were pronounced Fox” so is that a dig at Fforde’s own moniker or reader misinterpretation?

In my opinion, this book is vaguely similar to George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” but does not match because in “The Constant Rabbit” Fforde has significantly placed every name, action and event to create an edgy kind of intimacy, an uncomfortably familiar stab of recognition for readers.  With Manor Farm you feel things won’t turn out right; in Much Hemlock you want things to turn out right.  Best of all, Connie Rabbit has joined the illustrious list of strong female characters Jasper Fforde has written over the length of his literary career.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


IMG_20190907_185124Author Profile:

Jasper Fforde has been writing in the Comedy/Fantasy genre since 2001 when his novel “The Eyre Affair” debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list. Since then he has published 14 more books (which include a YA trilogy) with several becoming bestsellers, and counts his sales in millions. “The Constant Rabbit” is his 15th novel.

Jasper Fforde previously worked in the film industry, and now lives and writes in Wales UK. His oeuvre consists of series and standalones and his recent novel “Early Riser” is a thriller set in a world in which humans have always hibernated; his latest book “The Constant Rabbit” about anthropomorphised rabbits becoming the underclass in a post-Brexit Britain was published 2020.

Check out Dan Simpson’s blog Writer’s Routine for Jasper Fforde audio interview.
All you ever wanted to know
http://www.jasperfforde.com/

Brisbane Writers Festival Notes Part 1

Hi there, a diary entry to say that I am locked into five events over four days at the Brisbane Writers Festival and have attended session ‘Workshop: Writing Futures’ with UK author Jasper Fforde in QWC rooms which I thought ran for one hour, instead it turned out to be three hours.  Value for money!

Jasper Fforde’s takeaway tip for writers: Plausibility Not Believability.  There ain’t nuthin’ that bloke don’t know about writing parallel worlds and alternate futures.

Luckily I had tucked a muesli bar and bottle of water into my bag which helped stave off hunger as I listened avidly to every enlightening word.  Jasper Fforde is humorous, full of helpful advice and open to questions.  I was bold enough to asked a question or two about his ‘The Last Dragonslayer’ trilogy—although Spec-Ops and Thursday Next will always be my favourite.  During the Festival there will be plenty of time for book signings.

Brisbane Writers Festival 2019 03
https://bwf.org.au/

Roll on Saturday and a panel discussion ‘Dream Worlds’ in Cinema B Gallery of Modern Art, being recorded by ABC Radio National, with Australian author Krissy Kneen, American author Karen Thompson Walker and UK author Jasper Fforde.  They are followed by ‘Early Riser’ Conversation at The Edge, State Library of Queensland, South Bank, then Sunday ‘Book Club’ chat with Jasper Fforde on SLQ River Deck.  There is a closing address on Sunday evening ‘This Way Humanity’ and in the meantime I can avail myself of a Festival freebie or two.

Springtime here, it’s dry and unseasonably hot in Brisbane followed by bushfire smoke and dusty high winds so I’ve had to rework my wardrobe.  My bus GoCard is topped up, I have the BWF tickets printed, I am good to go.  Hopefully I will post more in-depth snippets next week.  In the meantime, type Jasper Fforde into my search bar to view my past posts.

The photograph (below) shows the way I walk to State Library of Queensland, underneath the singing whales in the roof outside the Queensland Museum.  Always reminds me of the whale in Douglas Adams ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’.

Bye for now . . . to be continued.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Life-size whale calf in the roof outside Queensland Museum, Brisbane.

‘The Last Dragonslayer’ by Jasper Fforde

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The Last Dragonslayer novels by Jasper Fforde

While Thursday Next lives in a parallel universe, The Last Dragonslayer is set in a world of myths, illusions and modern magic.

Orphan Jennifer Strange, a practical teenager, runs Kazam Mystical Arts Management with eccentric magicians who create irregular spells.  But magic and dragons are losing power and Jennifer discovers evil King Snodd IV wants to grab the Dragonlands, 350 acres of prime real estate.  Jennifer dislikes the King’s greed and so does the last Dragonslayer, an old wizard named Brian who controls dragons with an ancient sword.

Helped by her cool friend Tiger Prawns, and a metal-munching Quarkbeast with frighteningly sharp teeth, Jennifer rallies to protect the Dragonlands.  Meanwhile, wizard Brian is hatching a secret plan.  Jennifer doesn’t realise she is part of that plan.

This is the first book in Last Dragonslayer/Kazam Chronicles by Jasper Fforde and I loved reading their vital quest.  Suitable for 12 years and up, the second and third books are The Song Of The Quarkbeast and The Eye Of Zoltar.  There will be a fourth book in the series but at this stage only working titles have been released; possibly Humans vs Trolls or The Strange And The Wizard or The Great Troll War.  Guess we’ll just have to wait for the next quirky edition!

Author Jasper Fforde

Publisher Hodder & Stoughton UK

Movie by Mallinson Television Productions on Vimeo screened by Sky1

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

 

The Last Dragonslayer Jennifer Strange

Jasper Fforde 2018-2019 Author Events

Excited beyond belief when I found out Jasper Fforde, my all-time favourite post-modern author, has some cool events coming up!  Including another book.  And the eponymous Fforde Ffiesta rolls around again next year.

If any reader attended a US event, or may be attending a future UK event, I’m jealous but hoping I will read your WordPress review.  Of course, I will be writing about Jasper Fforde’s Brisbane Writers Festival 2019 special guest appearances in September!  See itinerary below—

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Photos by Mari Fforde (hover to see date)
Information from Jasper Fforde website (see below)


APPEARANCES

 Jasper Fforde says:  As usual, please call the venue to check times and dates before you set out just in case I am kidnapped by badgers, eager to promote their dangerous monochrome agenda.
Gretchen says: New book “Early Riser” is now available.  Read my review here
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2018/12/14/early-riser-jasper-fforde-book-review/\


2018


Feb 21st-22nd, Casper, Wyoming:
Wyoming Humanities Festival 2018

Book signing and lectures. I’ve never been to Wyoming, and the frightfully pleasant people at Casper have been asking me for a while. Talk and Book Signing Courtesy of Windy City Books, and a lecture plus Q&A the following day. Full details at the Humanities Festival website.


1-2nd March 2018, Cardiff Library:
Crime & Coffee Festival, Cardiff

First Crime and Coffee Festival at Cardiff Library. More details to follow, but I am assured the coffee is the crime, and there will be no actual murders of crimes taking place. Either days, or both, details to follow. Cardiff Library Website.


24th May-3rd June 2018
Hay Festival, Hay-on-Wye, Wales:
May or may not be attending this year––One of the UK’s most imaginative and entertaining authors creates hilarious, often absurd but always compelling adventures within bizarre and zany worlds.  Jasper Fforde’s hugely popular The Last Dragonslayer series is packed with trademark magic and invention.”
Information brochure Hay Festival, Wales.
Gretchen’s book review The Last Dragonslayer.


August 2018
Launch of Early Riser in the UK:

About bloody time too, say I.  Likely 1st to 12th August.  More details to follow.


August 13th – 18th, 2018, Wales:
Ty Newydd writing retreat, Wales

With Belinda Bauer, the course is called: Crime Fiction: A Twist in the Tale and from their website: “This course is designed for those who would like to write best-selling crime fiction – with a twist. Whether you’re writing your first novel, are switching from another genre, or have only dreamed of being a published author, we hope you’ll enjoy this down-to-earth, fun, and practical course. In workshops and one-to-one mentoring sessions, we will be sharing our tried and tested methods of creating character, plot and tension, while helping you to avoid some common pitfalls. We’ll offer advice on a range of issues, from writer’s block and the art of pitching, to how to cope with bad reviews!”
For more details, please mouse you way to the Ty Newydd Website.


2019


Early Riser Tour Jasper Fforde


25th-26th May 2019, Swindon, UK:
Fforde Ffiesta VIII, Swindon, UK

These Festivals are held biannually and oh, what ffun we have – and hopefully a lot more to talk about this year as I will have at least one more book published… Their website is here.


NEWS FLASH !!

THURS 5 SEPTEMBER TO SUN 8 SEPTEMBER 2019, BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA

VENUE: BRISBANE WRITERS FESTIVAL, SOUTH BANK, QUEENSLAND
https://bwf.org.au/2019/brisbane-writers-festival/artists/jasper-fforde-1

Jasper Fforde itinerary will be:

Event 1 – Workshop ‘Writing Futures’ with Jasper Fforde at QWC: Learning Centre, State Library of Queensland.

Event 2 – Panel ‘Dream Worlds’ at Cinema B, Gallery of Modern Art, South Bank.

Event 3 – Conversation ‘Early Riser’ at The Edge, State Library of Queensland.

Event 4 –  Book Club ‘Meet Jasper Fforde’ River Decks, State Library of Queensland.

Event 5 –  Lecture / Special Closing Address by Jasper Fforde, The Edge, State Library of Queensland.

Jasper Fforde at Brisbane Writers Festival Sept 2019


FUTURE ENGAGEMENTS


March 02031:   Asteroid belt and Saturn (technology permitting) More details TBA.

October 02042:   81-year-old Fforde talks to other members of old people’s home: “I used to be a novelist, no really, I did. Is it lunchtime?” More details TBA.

July 02175:   Semi-lifelike cloned Ffordesque replicant to tour Gamma Quadrant in the Cygnus Cluster. More details TBA.

Setember 03431:   Much improved Fforde cloned back to life to face execution for sedition; all works consigned to erasure.

Janfebry 008910:   Last evidence of Fforde’s books vanish forever with the removal of the ‘Formerly Thursday Street’ plaque from what is now W23-61 Rd in the conurbation known as EuroWest-79.

00012972:    Visiting archaeologists from Thraal-7 discover incomplete copy of Well of Lost Plots from excavation in landfill. Deciphering takes seven hundred years and a further four hundred years of academic scrutiny before being accepted as historical fact.


More ffun, books, merchandising, photos  Jasper Fforde Grand Central
For those who like a bit of backstory  Wikipedia – Author Jasper Fforde
Twitter  @jasperfforde
Instagram  Jasper Fforde
Facebook   Jasper Fforde Writer

NEWS FLASH 2020

JASPER FFORDE HAS CONFIRMED FORTHCOMING BOOKS!

“Dark Reading Matter”  Bookworld and Thursday Next – adult
“Dragonslayer IV”           Ununited Kingdom and Jennifer Strange – young adult
“Shades of Grey II”         Colours and Eddie Russett – adult
“The Constant Rabbit”   Racism and Mrs Constance Rabbit – adult – available now


Jasper Fforde Ffun

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Book Series

As a dyed-in-the-wool Jasper Fforde ffan, I recommend Shades Of Grey.  No, not that one!

Shades Of Grey deviates from Fforde’s brilliantly off-kilter, zany other-Britain adventures of Thursday Next, a LiteraTech operative for SpecOps-27, a crime fighting division inside literary fiction – literally – but there is some serious world building going on.  The Fforde trademark of inventiveness and unusual plot twists is there but the tone is sombre, the protagonist Eddie Russett lives in a tightly controlled world with a rigid hierarchy based on primary colours.  However, Eddie is not stupid and rises to the challenge of solving a perplexing mystery with the aid of some ‘colourful’ locals and a feisty Grey woman, Jane.

I have to say it is not my all-time favourite book in Fforde’s repertoire: Thursday Next wins.  I found the ending unsatisfying (except discovering where spoons go) although I do think it has been left open for a sequel.  If you’ve read the odd humour of Douglas Adams or inimitable Terry Pratchett and want a neo-noir version, try Jasper Fforde for ffun.  There’s enough books to keep you going!

Fforde has also written humorous Nursery Crimes series, and The Last Dragonslayer series about teenager Jennifer Strange.  Her agency, Kazam, employs weird and wonderful wizards who create magic and mayhem.

Check the website Grand Central http://www.jasperfforde.com/

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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LibCamo

Thursday Next SpecOps-27
Fangirl

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Pickwick Dodo

NEWS FLASH JASPER FFORDE WILL BE IN BRISBANE AUSTRALIA FOR BRISBANE WRITERS FESTIVAL, SOUTH BANK, FROM THURSDAY 5 SEPT TO SUNDAY 8 SEPT 2019.
https://bwf.org.au/2019/brisbane-writers-festival/artists/jasper-fforde-1

Jasper Fforde itinerary will be:

Event 1 – Workshop ‘Writing Futures’ with Jasper Fforde at QWC: Learning Centre, State Library of Queensland.

Event 2 – ‘Dream Worlds’ Panel at Cinema B, Gallery of Modern Art, South Bank.

Event 3 – Conversation ‘Early Riser’ at The Edge, State Library of Queensland.

Event 4 –  Book Club ‘Meet Jasper Fforde’ River Decks, State Library of Queensland.

Event 5 –  Lecture / Special Closing Address by Jasper Fforde, The Edge, State Library of Queensland.


Jasper Fforde at Brisbane Writers Festival Sept 2019