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Publisher's Summary

Vatanen, a journalist, is feeling burned out and sick of the city. One summer evening, he and a photographer set out on an assignment, and as they drive through the country, the car hits a young hare. Vatanen leaves the car to save the injured creature, and the grateful animal adopts him. This small incident becomes a turning point in Vatanen’s life as he decides to break free from the world’s constraints. He quits his job, leaves his wife, and sells his possessions to travel the Finnish wilds with his newfound friend. During their farcical adventures they encounter forest fires, pagan sacrifices, military war games, killer bears, political scandals, and much more.

ARTO PAASILINNA is a writer whose works have been at the top of the bestseller lists for twenty years. His books long remained unnoticed by Finland’s chronically antagonistic literary critics, but thanks to his great popularity, many of them have reassessed their opinions. In France, his books have not only proven bestsellers but also critical triumphs.

©2010 Translation 1995 by Herbert Lomas; foreword 2010 by Pico Iyer (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Paasilinna has been amusing Finns for thirty years and readers in twenty-five languages.” ( New York Times)
“This picaresque novel could simply depict a middle-age crisis, but it reaches beyond fantasy or fiction, becoming mythic in its universal themes. The story is inventive, satirical, and quite humorous.” ( Booklist)
“I love The Year of the Hare…Which of us wouldn’t secretly want to live in a novel as fresh and as full of events as this one?” ( Pico Iyer)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Janice
  • Sugar Land, TX, United States
  • 11-03-17

Lost in translation

While the premise was intriguing, I was disappointed in how undeveloped Vatanen was as a character. Initially I was under the impression he must have been relatively old as he mused on the disappointments of his life. But as he gets into his adventures, it was obvious that he had to be much younger than I thought. Actually, we are never told how old he is, or much else about who he is as a person. His sojourn with his furry companion is a series of encounters in which the people he meets are the center of attention and he is the spectator. And when each encounter is over, it’s over and we move on, seemingly unaffected. If we were intended to get something out of each episode, then the message got lost in translation.

In the last 1/3 things start getting stranger, with Vatanen changing from his mild mannered self to something more erratic and darker, with no arc in the story creating the change. The ending was unfinished and just dropped off the ledge. There was enough in the relationship between man and hare to lend some gentle sweetness, and Simon Vance’s usual marvelous performance was also a great asset. I can round up to 3 stars for what is really a 2.5.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • FB
  • 10-21-17

Not much substance

This book chronicles the activities of the protagonist, but never allows you to know him. It felt shallow to me. NWTT (Not worth the time)

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Not worth even 4 hours

I don't know if there's much worse than a painfully boring beginning or end, this was even worse, it started out with great and died immediately after never to be interesting again. The idea had immense potential, it's too bad!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating Finnish Follies

A reporter in Finland rescues a baby hare and discovers his humanity and physical strength tested.
The ending is most gratifying.

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

My Affinity for Hare Lasted Longer than Author's

Contains a minor spoiler for those who have not read/listened.
It was a very likeable story whose one consistency was the protagonists deeds of caretaking and caring for all creatures and people he encountered. So, when that trait was irrationally and completely abandoned in a scene where he quietly and mildly sat by and watched uninterested while someone raised a gun and took several shots the hare--when just any utterance would have prevented or stopped the action was completely unbelievable since the sudden disinterest in what happens to the hare was never explained. This was a sudden shift which I could recover my respect for the story enough to again believe in the character since my interest in the care continued far longer than the author's. The fact that the hare was not harmed in this scene was no justification. This abrupt shift so diminished the story and brought into question anyone other than the reader's affinity for the hare that the book was no longer enjoyable.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Delightful

I loved this book. The narrator does a great job (as he did in The Girl w/ the Dragon Tatoo series).

The author creates a beautiful narrative and his descriptions put you there with the man and the hare. You remain fully engaged through the tale. Listen and enjoy.

19 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • John G.
  • Lees Summit, MO USA
  • 10-19-17

Much must have been lost in translation

I was expecting a cute story about a man and a hare. Instead it's a somewhat serious, weird story about a weird man who happens to have a hare with him, while he meets other weird people along his journey. I was often bored by frequent unnecessary character developement and setting descriptions, which were not cute and not related to a hare.
Sorry. It's probably fine story in its original language.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting for a Book Club Book Discussion

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

It was satisfying and in keeping with the plot and character.s

Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Laughing out loud several times.

Any additional comments?

Interesting view of life through Finnish author writing in the seventies

14 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • D
  • 11-03-17

A modern day fairy tale

Although primarily a story about a man who leaves everything behind and starts a new life on the spur of the moment, the addition of the wild hare captured my interest at least as much as the man's journey did. I was constantly concerned about the welfare of the animal, and the man (Vaatenon?) earned my sympathy by constantly going out of his way to provide for the hare and protect it from assault by everything from government officials to bears. This book ranges from funny to serious, but remains mostly lighthearted and fairy tale-ish, and I enjoyed it immensely.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A break from everyday commotion

I was on the fence committing to this book but it was worth every minute spent listening to. I live a very busy commercial life and at times, listening to this book, I wanted to break free and be with Vatanen, knowing very well he would despise my presence.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful