BOOK CLUB: The Rabbits

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The Rabbits by Sophie Overett is a family drama with a light dusting of magic realism.

It’s not going to appeal to every reader, but for the right audience, it’s got a lot to offer.

The Rabbit family (and no, they’re not actual animals – that’s their surname) is in a state of flux. Delia Rabbit has her hands not just full but overflowing. Her partner, Ed, has left after more than twenty years. Her mother is slipping deeper into dementia. She is having an ill-advised affair with one of her students.

Her eldest daughter Olive appears to hate her and is leading an unstable and unhappy existence. Youngest son Ben is in a constant state of anxiety. Her middle son, 16-year-old Charlie, is rather odd but seems the happiest and most stable.

And then Charlie disappears.

This is largely a family drama, focussing in turns on each of the Rabbits and how they’re coping with life in general.

Although we readers discover quite quickly what’s happened to Charlie, I was still mildly disconcerted by the general lack of interest in his disappearance.

Then again, each of the Rabbits is entangled in their own concerns. Overett shines here, exploring each family member sensitively. She manages the delicate balance of making things clear without spelling them out too explicitly.



In Delia, Overett has created an equally vivid and believable character, with all too believable problems. Delia is beset on all sides, pushed and pulled by feelings she understands far better than Olive understands hers.

Delia’s muted emotional response – with no real panic – seems particularly strange given her family history. That didn’t sit comfortably with me. The entire novel does have a rather dry, muted tone, which generally worked well, but for me, this one element jarred. I suspect that most readers who don’t enjoy “The Rabbits” are likely to founder on this point.

I also felt that the “conditions” of Charlie’s invisibility hadn’t been well worked out. Magic realism works best when it’s underpinned by internal consistency, and I felt this was weak.

The novel is written in a dry, observational style that mutes some of the emotional reactions. Still, it works, shifting us between characters without switching tone but still letting us feel we’re in the heads of very different people.

This is a solid debut. It is not perfect, but the problems are minor. As I said, it’s not a novel for every reader. However, many will find that the slight distance conveyed by the style lets you explore the different characters in depth without getting too mired in any one person’s emotions.

I enjoyed this, finding it an interesting way to explore a family in crisis.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading The Rabbits by Sophie Overett. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

ISBN: 978-1-76104-093-1

9 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Rabbits

  1. 3.5 stars.
    Thank you to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Penguin for my copy.
    This is a book that is hard to describe as I have mixed feelings about it.
    It is well written with thorough character descriptions so you know how they feel and what’s going on.
    I felt for Olive, the teenage daughter and poor Benjamin, the youngest Rabbit. This family have enough problems already and then the middle Rabbit, Charlie disappears. This was odd to me how he just vanished and initially there was plenty of emotion from family members with him missing and then within a few days their lives seem to go back to “their normal” and it had me scratching my head asking “What about Charlie?”.
    The author does describe really well, the oppressive heat and humidity where the Rabbits live. There are a few family secrets, one was a big surprise, but these family secrets and a past tragedy unfortunately not only effect the mum, Delia, but her secrets are effecting the next generation. The Rabbit family is broken on all three generation levels and there is a lot of emotion and turmoil.
    I liked the chapter lengths which had breaks in them with a drawing of a rabbit which was cute, but also a good spot to take a break in. There is swearing, which I didn’t mind, but it’s hard to put into words why the story didn’t grab me.

  2. When I read that the title of the book was called ‘The Rabbits’ I thought maybe it was about rabbits! But ‘Rabbits’ are a very interesting family.
    Delia, a mother living on her own and caring for her three children, Olive who’s 20, Charlie who’s 16 and 11year old Benjamin, then there’s Ed her ex partner (who she never married, despite him wanting to marry her at one stage). He pops in now and again.
    Delia’s is a complicated family, there’s her mother Rosie who’s in a home who Delia visits twice a week, though she’s not sure why. There’s the loss of her sister when she was young which had a profound effect on her.
    She teaches art, although she’d sooner just be an artist.
    All the children have issues but despite that there’s underlying love there.

    I so enjoyed this book by Sophie Overett, the descriptive writing is marvellous as is the storyline, many thanks Beautyandlace and Penguin Books, Random House for a great read.

  3. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read The Rabbits by Sophie Overett.

    What an awesome read!!

    This is a story of the Rabbit family.
    Mum, Dad and 3 kids all with their own struggles, each coping in their own way.

    A story of miss communication, loss, missing family members, courage and a family falling apart.

    A great read with relatable characters.

    I’m looking forward to Sophie’s next book.

    Highly recommend ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  4. Thanks to Beauty and Lace Bookclub for the opportunity to read Sophie Overett – The Rabbits. Well what a strange book – which centres on the lives of Delia Rabbit and her 3 children and the trials and tribulations of their family dynamic and their relationships with each other, Delia’s ex the children’s father, her aging mother and her pupil boyfriend and a very strange phenomenon that happens within their family. Still not sure if I enjoyed it or not but it did keep me reading it. I think I would give it ✴️✴️✴️

  5. I found this book unputdownable. The story of an ordinary, disfunctional, single parent Brisbane family .Delia has 3 children (a teenage rebellious daughter, a nerdy son and a younger son who wants to please.), an absent exhusband, and a mother she hasn’t got on with, who now has dementia. When she was a child her sister disappeared and now her son does. This is the story of how they deal with it. and the surprising twist that is unbelievable but isn’t. So good!

  6. The Rabbits by Sophie Overett
    Thank you Beauty and Lace for giving me the great opportunity to read this well written book.
    I couldn’t wait to get home every afternoon to read another couple of chapters before bed.
    It’s all happening again to Delia first her sister Bo and now her son Charlie both disappearing with out a trace .
    Delia Rabbit a lecturer a masters degree in fine arts specialising in pencil-work and acrylics .
    Her mum Rosie now elderly and in a nursing home with dementia who she regularly visits .
    Her 3 kids Olive a rebellious teenager who misses her father who has his own life her friend Lux who is a bad influence, Charlie who likes looking at space and the stars through his telescope, and the Benjamin the youngest of the 3 .
    The ups and downs of a family in the hot humid Queensland weather with no air conditioning.
    A well written book which explains all the characters perfectly.
    Does Delia finally find out what happens to Charlie well you will have to read the book and find out for yourself .
    5 out of 5 stars loved it .

  7. Thank you to Beauty & Lace and Penguin Random House for the opportunity to read and review The Rabbits by Sophie Overett.

    I really enjoyed this book. I really like books that switch between characters, I would have loved to have read from Charlie’s point of view though!

  8. The Rabbits by Sophie Overett was a novel about family dynamics. It centers on the disappearance of Charlie Rabbit. The book explores each character really well. Olive is a rebellious young women who struggles to be happy. Delila is raising her children solo after her husband recently left. Charlie is a space addict and younger brother Ben is a caring person who struggles with anxiety. Charlie goes missing then the family find out something magical has happened. A great story. Thanks Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this wonderful story

  9. ‘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 18. 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 had a direct impact on her marriage and connection with her children. When her 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. Overett is clearly a writer who is willing to approach all genres and formats, which is an impressive quality to possess. 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.

    *I wish to thank Beauty & Lace Book club/Penguin Books Australia for a copy of this book for review purposes.

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