Book review: The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin

14 Jun

thelastdaysofrabbithayesannamcpartlinHere is a truth that can’t be escaped: for Mia ‘Rabbit’ Hayes, life is coming to an end . . .

Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it.

She loves her spirited daughter, Juliet; her colourful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye.

But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she’s OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen.

Here is a truth that won’t be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life’s surprises and finding the joy in every moment.

I read this excellent book earlier in the year and have been very remiss by not reviewing it until now. Anna McPartlin’s story of Rabbit, her wonderful family, her loves and ultimately, her death is a beautifully written, poignant and yet darkly funny read that made me laugh and cry (sometimes at the same time!) It’s no surprise to me that it was chosen to be one of the Richard and Judy Book Club titles for Spring 2015 and I know this book has many fans.

The story focuses on Mia Hayes (known to all as ‘Rabbit’), her family and friends as she enters a hospice as the end of her battle with cancer draws near. Told over just nine days, the novel moves quickly between past and present to build up a picture of Rabbit’s life and history whilst charting the reactions and actions of her nearest and dearest as her life draws to a close. I loved Rabbit’s flash backs to her past and getting to know her as a young girl.

The episodes set in the past give a strong sense of time and place and also introduce a key storyline in the book which is the love story between Rabbit and Johnny. To say that The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is an unconventional love story would be true but I found it to tell a beautiful romance with characters that jumped off the page and lingered with me long after I finished reading. Rabbit and Johnny’s story is marred by heartbreak and tragedy but is also a simple story of a girl falling for one of her brother’s mates.

Rabbit is quite the character as are many of her family members. My personal favourites in this book were Rabbit’s Mum Molly who is the personification of a no-nonsense, strong Irish Mammy and her brother Davey whose life has taken him in many directions but who finds a wonderful bond with Rabbit’s daughter Juliet. Between them Rabbit and Molly are responsible for a lot of the humour in the book, proving that even at the darkest times there can be laughter and making their relationship all the more poignant.

Anna McPartlin doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of a life-ending illness as she explores the ways that families deal with loss and grief and although painful to read at times, the ways in which Rabbit’s family and friends face up to the impending loss of a loved one felt very believable and really did encompass the whole myriad of reactions and emotions.

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is a touching novel that reminded me to take pleasure in the small things and enjoy each day as it comes. This is the first of Anna’s books that I’ve read and I now look forward to catching up on her backlist whilst I wait for her next release later this year.

5/5

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Anna McPartlin at: http://annamcpartlin.com/

 

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