It's fair to say that this book is not entirely astonishing - but there are astonishing things about it. Morrall manages to make the protagonist Kitty so real that the reader understands and makes sense of her over-literal logic, whilst at the same time wanting to scream at her social disfunctionality. Never have a character's actions so infuriated me! Often I found myself thinking: "Don't you understand the consequences of what you're doing??" She doesn't of course - but you always feel she has the potential to do so.
The main problem with the book is that you finish reading a different novel to the one that you started. Perhaps the author lost interest in synaesthesia whilst writing the book, because this strand seems to disappear almost entirely which is a bit of a wasted opportunity. The themes of past and future, their importance and the way they affect each other, grow throughout the book to assume major importance - almost as if Morrall began to realise what she thought the book was really about part way through writing it.
Overall though it is still a very enjoyable book. Kitty is a wonderfully realised character and the love between her and her fascinating husband James is palpable. Morrall writes with a dark richness which prevents the pervading gloom of the story from ever being depressing. She is wonderfully sure of her voice - odd phrases were so astounding I had to stop myself and read them again.
Neither as astonishing nor colourful as the title would have you believe, but still an enthralling read.
More and more sweetly complex mysteries emerge from Clare Morrall's clear-running prose as we meet Kitty's husband who lives next door, her ramshackle family of older brothers, and her father who paints the sea but hates it. A passage in which Kitty takes her neices to the pantomime looks as though it is going to be a funny description of a disastrous toddler trip, but the laughter slides into genuinely scary panic.
It's a measure of Morrall's skill that you find yourself falling in love with Kitty and wanting someone to smack some sense into her at the same time. One plot twist is carefully signalled so as to make you feel smugly in control, but the others come as real shocks to the system. When I finished, I felt the need to go back and read it again to find out why I didn't spot things coming the first time round. I have a feeling that Kitty is one of those characters who will stay in my head for a very long time.
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