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The Rabbit Girls

Audible’s Debut of the Year 2019
Length: 12 hrs and 22 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (434 ratings)

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A note to our listeners

Once the Audible team had read Anna Ellory’s debut novel The Rabbit Girls there was no question that this was a story we wanted to share with members. Dramatic, heart-breaking and beautifully written; the power of the story has only been heightened by Gemma Arterton and Simon Callow’s astounding narration.

We follow Miriam in a dual narrative as she learns more about the 'Frieda' her father calls out for and her parents' war-time love story, alongside the pain and terror Miriam herself faces daily at the hands of her abusive husband. Entwined in the sadness of both stories are glimmers of hope, sisterly solidarity and friendship.

Summary

Audible UK's Debut of the Year 2019

Berlin, 1989. As the wall between East and West falls, Miriam Winter cares for her dying father, Henryk. When he cries out for someone named Frieda - and Miriam discovers an Auschwitz tattoo hidden under his watch strap - Henryk’s secret history begins to unravel.  

Searching for more clues of her father’s past, Miriam finds an inmate uniform from the Ravensbrück women’s camp concealed among her mother’s things. Within its seams are dozens of letters to Henryk written by Frieda. The letters reveal the disturbing truth about the ‘Rabbit Girls’, young women experimented on at the camp. And amid their tales of sacrifice and endurance, Miriam pieces together a love story that has been hidden away in Henryk’s heart for almost 50 years.  

Inspired by these extraordinary women, Miriam strives to break through the walls she has built around herself. Because even in the darkest of times, hope can survive.

©2019 Anna Ellory (P)2019 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about The Rabbit Girls

Average customer ratings
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  • Jo
  • 13-09-19

Fantastic

I rarely love a book so much that i take the time to review it. I listen to so many, quite a lot I barely get through a few chapters and stop. This book is gripping, raw, sad, courageous, lovely, hard to listen to and happy all at once. I found myself quite literally sat on the edge of my chair mouth open. Silently willing her to just get on and read the next letter!!! I loved how it wasnt a typical ending. Just as you thought you lnew which way it was going, it changed and took you somewhere else. I finished the book feeling I had learnt about suffering more than any other book of the genre. Some things made me so sad i cant ever fully understand the greif that they must have felt. Thank you to the Author for writing such a great book. I cant wait to hear your next one.

If youre on the fence about this book, its that good i would have paid full price for it (rather than a credit).... and thats something I NEVER do. Fantastic

29 people found this helpful

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Terrible. Unremittingly depressing.

I kept stopping through this book, it was just too arduous to go on. Then I thought it might get better, but it doesn’t. There is not a chink of happiness anywhere, not even to throw the threads of the depressing stories into relief. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to read this harrowing stuff.

22 people found this helpful

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A work of harrowing brilliance.

I have just finished this book and feel bereft and yet relieved to have done so. I feel bereft of the characters and their stories that were so absorbing and inspiring and relieved because the content of the stories were so harrowing at times I could hardly bear to go on and hear more. Knowing that this story had obviously been well researched so that although the characters were fictitious the historical events of the concentration camps were not, made it all the more compelling....I felt a duty to the memory of the women represented here to carry on listening to the very end.
I also had to listen to the end knowing, or hoping at least, that some justice would be done. Not, tragically in the events of the holocaust but with the more present day situation of the character Miriam and her abusive controlling husband. I willed her on to the end, holding my breath and longing for her to take charge of her life. I also longed for her to be heard and understood rather than being judged by other men and her husband's lies believed.
I discovered at the end, in the interviews with the Author and narrators, that this is Anna Ellory's first book!....I am in awe of her and if I ever met her I would tell her that this is MASTERPIECE of LITERATURE and should become one of the most important books in libraries across the World. It reaches to all levels from teens to elderly and if it was made into a film I would not hesitate to see it but with a huge box of tissues and no chocolates!!

21 people found this helpful

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Very good but Simon Callow hard to hear

I love Simon Callow but he is so hard to hear in this. You have to turn the volume up and down when it switches from Gemma to Simon and vice versa.

14 people found this helpful

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Phenomenal

First quarter builds layer upon layer not quite knowing which way you are being taken as both characters take you on their personal, tragic and brave journeys. Simon Callow gave Henryk life even as he faced death and recounting his experiences during those horrific times.

Gemma Arterton follows suit as the letters and the living memories jump out and drag you back to share in Frieda's experiences.

I cannot believe that this is Anna Ellorys first Novel, genius in its darkness, honesty, and bravery. love can survive the darkest of times indeed.

Fantastic work!

27 people found this helpful

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Good story somewhat spoiled by the narration

I listen to audible books in bed and have the sound turned down low. Gemma is very clear but Simon’s volume can be very low and he sometimes mumbles. This spoiled my enjoyment of the book. If you listen whilst driving and can turn the volume up this will not be a problem.

12 people found this helpful

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Stunning. Bleak, hopeful and beautifully written and read

This gem of a book tackles the toughest subjects, but with dignity, resilience, and hope. The writing is extraordinary and the performances outstanding.

12 people found this helpful

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Stunning

What an incredible novel. Utterly gripping, beautifully crafted, wonderful descriptions. Not a wasted word. Brilliantly narrated. Terrific female characters and relationships. Harrowing. Highly recommend.

10 people found this helpful

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Loved every word

I loved the descriptive narration the way the narrator bought the book to life. I wish I was only just starting this excellent audio book.

10 people found this helpful

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bleak but totally brilliant

I always avoid books about the holocaust,but this one grabbed me. It is so bleak and sad,especially the chapters in the concentration camps.I was appalled with the domestic violence scenes but was relieved as Miriam became stronger.A gripping read

9 people found this helpful

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  • Cricket
  • 04-09-19

Great book....

What a surprise! I really enjoyed this audio book! Not a big fan of one of the characters, I wanted to strangle him. Anyone reading or listening to this book won’t be disappointed.

11 people found this helpful

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  • drakermom
  • 29-10-19

I could not finish this audio book....

......not because the book was not excellent, or the narrator perfect, but because I listen to my audio books while swimming laps, and this was not a book I could listen to in the swimming pool. Although brilliant, the subject matter was far too harrowing for light listening. I was not familiar with the term ''''rabbit girls", although I am very aware of the unspeakable crimes committed against these women. Consequently, I obtained the Kindle Unlimited version and completed the book that way. Enjoyable is not a word I would use to describe this book, it was gut-wrenching, but it was eminently readable, and I would recommend either version to a serious reader.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Donna Grimsley
  • 11-10-19

The rabbit girls

It was good but left some unanswered questions. Great reader though. She did very well with voice characterization.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Mary Smiroldo
  • 12-11-19

Dark, Deep, Disturbing

Beautifully written prose that sounds like poetry when spoken by two of the best narrators I have heard on Audible.
I have learned so much from listening to books about the Holocaust. This one, however, I think was the hardest to hear. Perhaps, the subject of mothers and babies falls too close to home for me, but I was glad I saw it through to the end. There were times, quite honestly, that I thought of quitting, and I had to take frequent breaks, but the beautiful, gentle ending made me glad I stayed with it.
Thank you to the author for her deeply researched story, and to the narrators for bringing the characters to life. I will not soon forget.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 05-03-20

Horrific

What an incredibly horrific time in history. The narrative was so beautifully done that you are unable to stop listen so you can find out what happened. The historical facts are what makes this so deeply moving. I won’t spoil anything but just did not see it coming. Well done but so moving I’m struck silent.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Kathryn
  • 25-02-20

Beautifully Written, But Not What I Expected

I hate spoilers, so I’m going to do my best to steer clear of any yet still explain how I feel about this book. The writing in this book was beautiful, almost poetic in places, yet nothing like what I expected. When I reread the summary I decided part of my expectations of the book were based more on the title and less on the summary. It plainly states a love story is uncovered. This is much more of a love story and a powerful book about relationships than a book about rabbit girls. But, with a title of Rabbit Girls, I expected much more of their story. I’d never heard of the rabbit girls until I read Lilac Girls. It’s hard to say since I did read Lilac Girls first how much I would have learned about them through this book. Yes, their plight was explained, but more from a broad spectrum and lighter on details. After listening to the author’s interview, I know this was done purposefully. Her explanation for the focus of this book made perfect sense. She seems like a lovely person. I think I’d have given this book 5 stars if the title had been something different. I don’t think the title fits the book. If it’s a beautiful book why is the title a problem? Because I kept waiting for the rabbit girls to become a bigger part of the story and that never happened. Anna Ellory is working on her second book and more than likely, I will read it because she is very talented. The narration was outstanding by both of the narrators.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lily barrios
  • 03-07-20

Amazing

Simon and Gemma did An amazing job at bringing this book to life. However the title does seem a little unfitting, but other than that it was fascinating
Hearing this story and the performance. Miriam’s struggle in being in a very toxic relationship can be very relatable to some women as well as trying to get out of it, it can become difficult no physically but rather mentally. It’s amazing how her character was very well written as well as her growth throughout the story.

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  • Peaches
  • 28-03-20

A great listen

The actors voices were super. I never had a glimpse of how it was going to end. Good story

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  • reader mother
  • 10-02-20

excellent, however,...

this book is well written in terms of plot, character development, tie in to history, & intertwining multiple stories/time periods, subjects (20th century WWII/concentration camps, rise & fall of Berlin wall, domestic abuse, 21st century)

personally, I did not care for the subject matter or graphic description of the modern day daughter, Miriam, who had history of cutting herself due to major physical/verbal/emotional/psychological abuse @ hands of her husband; had I realized this was part of the book, I would not have chosen it; though I have enjoyed some works produced directly by Audible, I often find the content of their offerings to be poorly described by the overview; it is not unusual for me to ask for these works to be removed from my library &/or exchanged for others based on unknown content not of my choice

I selected this book as it popped up based on my other choices w/related WWII/concentration camp content; had I not listened to 80+ hours of such content recently, from books giving a much more in depth account of things referred to in this book (not to mention Internet research prompted by the books), I would not have fully grasped WWII/concentration camp references in this book

I more highly recommend other books if one is interested in the WWII/concentration camp saga & enjoys history & historical fiction, including, but not limited to the Rabbits of Ravensbruck - Ravensbruck: Life & Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women by Sarah Helm, A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins & the Missing Agents of WWII by Sarah Helm, The Stone Crusher: The True Story of a Father & Son's Fight for Survival in Auschwitz by Jeremy Dronfield, The Pharmacist of Auschwitz by Patricia Posner, & The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antionio Iturbe,

the title, Rabbit Girls, makes it sound like it is primarily about the Rabbits of Ravensbruck, but it is more about the father & daughter & their back stories, which in part include WWII/concentration camps; the Rabbits of Ravensbruck is a riveting captivating non fiction story, but the element of it in this book is fiction, secondary, & does not do the Rabbit story justice

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  • Wendy
  • 22-01-20

Convoluted and confusing

After reading "Lilac Girls", I jumped at this title and was so disappointed.... the Rabbit Girls were prisoner at Ravenbruck (a Nazi concentration camp), often Polish, Jewish, or political prisoners, who were subject to inhumane medical/surgical experiments that left them crippled (or dead). The term "Rabbit Girls" was due to their peculiar gait, left over from the surgeries on their legs. Rather than tell the story, this author provides a story of Ravensbruck via letters found many years later as she cares for her dying father.
There were many side jaunts into the main character propensity for self harm, her abusive relationships, and neuroses... none of which add to the story but only serve to confuse the reader.
I figured out the plot pretty quickly and suffered thru the rest of the book.
If you want a better story of the Rabbit Girls, "Lilac Girls" is the book to read. This is a story that needs to be told, but don't look to this book to understand the plight of our sisters.