A book following a grieving family may not sound like the kind of book you want to read but trust me when I tell you that Below the Big Blue Sky is a really uplifting book.
It is the sequel to The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes, which I adored when I read it a few years ago. It’s no spoiler to say, as you can gather from that title, that Rabbit Hayes dies at the end of the first book. You can read this as a standalone although I would really recommend reading the first book as it also is a wonderfully uplifting book. Below the Big Blue Sky follows various members of Rabbit’s family over the next couple of years as they come to terms with her loss.
There’s her young daughter Juliet who, as well as coming to terms with the loss of her mum, also has to contend with moving to America to live with her uncle Davey who can’t understand why Rabbit asked him to look after Juliet. Neither can the rest of the family to be fair, but Rabbit trusted her brother. There’s Rabbit’s parents who have very different opinions on how to honour their daughter’s memory. There’s her sister who has some big decisions of her own to make. And there’s her best friend too.
This is an incredibly moving read at times, which more than once had tears threatening as I read about the sadness of the family and how much missed Rabbit was. Despite her having passed away, she was still a really significant character and large presence in this book. And yet it’s also such a funny book which at times had me giggling away. I think it was a real reflection of how people deal with a death and how emotions change and develop over time. Yes there is deep sorrow, but it’s only right to remember a person with smiles as well.
I know Rabbit Hayes wasn’t a real person but nonetheless this seems like a fitting tribute to her. Below the Big Blue Sky is a beautiful story about finding joy in the darkest of times, which is perhaps very appropriate for the times we are living in.
My thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to take part in the blogtour. Below the Big Blue Sky will be published by Zaffre Books in July. If you have a bookshop you can support, please order your copy directly from them. Alternatively, you can order through Hive which supports your local High Street. Here is the link to the book there: Below the Big Blue Sky
From the back of the book
From the bestselling author of The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes comes a huge-hearted novel about death, family and finding laughter in the most unexpected of places.
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 spends hour upon hour in the family attic, poring over his old diaries, losing himself in the past.
Rabbit’s brother Davey finds himself suddenly guardian to her twelve-year-old daughter Juliet. Juliet might be able to fill a hole in Davey’s heart – but how can he help Juliet through her grief when he can barely cope with his own?
Meanwhile, Rabbit’s sister Grace is struggling with the knowledge that she carries the same gene that made her sister ill, and Rabbit’s best friend Marjorie is lost, struggling to remain a part of a family she has always wished was her own now that her link to them is gone.
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.
Below a Big Blue Sky will make you laugh, cry and shout with joy for the colourful, unruly Hayes family as they battle with the loss of their beloved Rabbit, the daughter, mother, sister and friend, who in her own crazy way taught each of them how to live, and goes on showing them how to love from beyond the grave.
About the author
I’m an Irish novelist and a TV scriptwriter. Currently with 7 fiction titles available to buy online and one children’s title under the name Bannie McPartlin. As of August 2019 I’ve just finished writing ‘Under The Big Blue Sky,’ the follow up to international best selling title ‘The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes.’ This title will be published by Bonnier Zaffer and will be available UK &I IRE and amazon Summer 2020.
My previous short incarnation as a stand-up comedian left an indelible mark. I’m described by all who know me as a slave to the joke and my work focuses on humour and humanity in even the darkness situations.
So if you’d like to take a trip to the dark side and if you are a fan of big, bold characters check out my titles and I hope you enjoy.
PS – If you are not a fan of moderate to severe cursing, best to move on. Either way good luck to you.
PPS – I dabble in twitter but often forget it’s there (@annamcpartlin). I’m better on Facebook but not brilliant Anna McPartlin and I really giving it a good old go on instagram #Trying (mcpartlin.anna) and my website is annamcpartlin.com.