When forty-year-old Rabbit Hayes dies, she leaves behind a family broken by grief. Her mother Molly is distraught and in danger of losing her faith. Her father Jack is losing himself in the past.
Her brother Davey finds himself suddenly guardian to her twelve-year-old daughter Juliet. Meanwhile, Rabbit’s sister Grace is struggling with the knowledge that she carries the same gene that made her sister ill.
But even though the Hayes family are all fighting their own battles, they are drawn together by their love for Rabbit, and their love for each other. In the years that follow her death they find new ways to celebrate and remember her, to find humour and hope in the face of tragedy, and to live life to its fullest, as Rabbit would have wanted.
I read The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes 6 years ago soon after publication, but she and her family have stayed with me over the years and it was for this reason that I jumped at the chance to be involved in this blog tour. Publication for this book has been delayed due to Covid 19, but trust me, this book is worth the wait.
I immersed myself back into the Hayes family, quirky and brash but so warm and endearing. The book starts where its prequel finishes, the sad but expected death of Rabbit Hayes and the family are devastated by her passing. Told from multiple perspectives, all written in the third person, the lives of Rabbit’s daughter, her siblings and parents as well as her best friend are all depicted as they try to move forward, all mourning such an important person.
The writing is fast with lots of dialogue which really serves to bring the characters to life. Matriarch, Molly is overcome with guilt over the lost of her daughter and this impacts on her faith and changes her core, which in itself has huge ramifications for her family. Grace has some life changing decisions to make which serve to further divide this already broken family, while Rabbit’s 12 year old daughter Juliet heads off to America with her Uncle Davey, a decision suggested by her mother and one they are both determined to honour.
This family; The Hayes’ are so incredibly likable, that this book, with a central theme of death and loss still manages to be funny while exploring the heartbreaking loss all are enduring in different ways. Detailing family life with all its ‘ups and downs’ this book is about the strength that comes from being loved belonging and the Hayes have an abundance of love, which they share with friends and neighbours aplenty.
I really, really enjoyed this book, so much so that I had that slightly bereft feeling when I closed it, teary eyed having read the final pages. Sad yes but heartwarming in the way this family rides the wave of grief but ultimately survives, different but stronger.
A gorgeous and tender sequel to The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes this would appeal to fans of contemporary fiction including but not exclusive to the writing of Joanna Cannon, Marian Keyes, Mike Gayle, Fredrik Backman and anyone who adored Eleanor Oliphant.
About the Author
Anna McPartlin is a novelist and scriptwriter from Dublin, who has written for TV Serial dramas featured on BBC UK, RTE Ireland and A&E America. She has been writing adult fiction for over ten years, and also writes for children under the name Bannie McPartlin. She lives with her husband Donal and their four dogs.
This is a blog tour celebrating the publication of Below the Big Blue Sky. Thanks to Tracey Fenton for organising the tour and inviting me to be involved and to the publishers for sending me a proof copy of the book. Details of the tour are below.