Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall

Not long into this novel we discover that something is seriously wrong with Kitty Wellington. Able to see moods and feelings in colour, her life is off-kilter since the still-birth of her baby son. Several years later she fills her days roaming Birmingham on buses or waiting outside the nursery school with other mothers of children who would be little Harry’s age. The novel will no-doubt track the course of her recovery from grief, thinks the reader.

But before Kitty can move on, there’s a trunk-load of baggage from her past to deal with, including the mother that died when she was three and the sister who disappeared not long before – two women her artist father is reluctant to talk about. She has had to rely on her four brothers, who love her very much, but can that love endure the weird things she gets up to?

Meanwhile there’s hubby, James, who lives in the next door flat in a world where everything is tidy and white. He’s got family problems too, can’t talk about the baby and it’s hard to know where his grief for Harry ends and sorrow for his wife begins.

So Astonishing Splashes of Colour isn’t what you’d call a happy story, but peppered with Morrall’s usual cluster of quirky and erratic characters, it is certainly an interesting one. Kitty is such good company, even when you are thinking, ‘Oh, no, please don’t do that,’ and there are plenty of revelations towards the end to keep you turning the pages.

I love Morrall’s writing, with its sensitivity and her ability to write from the point of view of damaged people. This first novel won a Man Booker nomination, and she’s written a further six, each better than the last, in my opinion. Give Morrall a try, especially if you enjoy novels by Anne Enright and Maggie O’Farrell.

Posted by JAM

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