Perfect Prose #3: When God Was A Rabbit

I read this book five years ago and loved it. I wasn’t sure about the title, but I’m so pleased I gave it a go and it surpassed my expectations. This evening I stumbled upon this quote that I had copied down in an old notebook, and decided I had to share it here.


The following day, the partial eclipse began just before ten. The sky was overcast, which was a shame, because the lessening of light became a subtle phenomenon rather than the dramatic occurrence of ancient times. We were out in the bay with other boats, surrounded by cliff tops dotted with hundreds of observers, their faces looking towards the cloudmasked sun, protective mirrored viewers held up like 3D glasses. Gulls were singing, and land birds too from the island haven, but there was chaos in their voices, melody gone. They were sensing the unusual, I was sensing the cold. The diminishing light felt like the approach of a storm, like something harmful, inexplicable. And then just before eleven fifteen, the last of the sun disappeared, and the darkness and silence were total, and the cold descended upon the water, and us, and the whole bay locked down into this ravenous silence; the birds quiet, confused into sleep.

I thought this is how it would be if the sun died; the gentle shutting down of an organ, sleepy, no longer working. No explosion at the end of life, just this slow disintegration into darkness, where life as we know it never wakes up, because nothing reminds us that we have to.

The sun started to reappear a couple of minutes later, slowly, of course, until colour once again saturated the sea and our faces, and birdsong filled the air, songs this time of joy, of relief. Cheers rang out from the cliff tops and the ra ta ta ta of applause. Yet we were all quiet for so long after, touched by the magnitude, the beautiful unfathomable magnitude of it all. This is what we are connected to. What we are all connected to. When the lights go out, so do we.


When God Was  A Rabbit by Sarah Winman, published by Tinder Press, an imprint of Headline.

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