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The Night Rainbow [Paperback]

Claire King
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
Price: £5.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

1 Aug 2013

During one long, hot summer, five-year-old Pea and her little sister Margot play alone in the meadow behind their house, on the edge of a small village in Southern France. Her mother is too sad to take care of them; she left her happiness in the hospital, along with the baby. Pea's father has died in an accident and Maman, burdened by her double grief and isolated from the village by her Englishness, has retreated to a place where Pea cannot reach her - although she tries desperately to do so.

Then Pea meets Claude, a man who seems to love the meadow as she does and who always has time to play. Pea believes that she and Margot have found a friend, and maybe even a new papa. But why do the villagers view Claude with suspicion? And what secret is he keeping in his strange, empty house?

Elegantly written, haunting and gripping, The Night Rainbow is a novel about innocence and experience, grief and compassion and the dangers of an overactive imagination.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (1 Aug 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1408841843
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408841846
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13.2 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Claire King grew up in Mexborough, South Yorkshire and studied economics at Newnham College, Cambridge. She has worked variously as a barmaid, a book-seller, a riding instructor, a fiction editor and in a leper colony. She spent the last twenty years working anywhere in business that allowed her to tell stories. She has finally realised what she wants to be when she grows up.

Claire's prize winning short fiction has been recognised by fancy places like BBC Radio 4, The New Scientist, The Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology and Writers Forum magazine.

Claire has worked in the UK, mid-west USA, India and Ukraine and she now lives and works in France where she inhabits a ramshackle old house in the mountains with her husband and their two daughters, happily ever after.

Claire blogs about France, writing and assorted other things at
You can follow her on twitter @ckingwriter

Product Description


Quirky, elegant and sweet: I loved it! (Joanne Harris)

At once moving and gripping, elegant and spare, The Night Rainbow is a daring novel about a child faced with the baffling world of adult grief. Claire King nails the voice of the child narrator from the first page; Pea is a heroine you won't forget (Maggie O'Farrell)

Emotional and beautifully written, you'll be on tenterhooks throughout (Stylist)

An original, beguiling debut about the consequences of an imaginatively lived life (Marie Claire)

Book Description

The Night Rainbow is the story of Pea (Peony to her English mother, Pivoine to her French father), the world she creates to win back her mother's love, and the stranger she trusts to save them both

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
94 of 95 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I may be an eighty year old man, but I cried like a baby as I read this beautiful book, because it touched every nerve in my body. I think I write with sensitivity about heart-breaking issues myself, but I know I couldn't have written this.
The narrator is the five-and-a-half year old Pea, aided and abetted (and at times provoked) by her four-year-old sister Margot, and yes, as some reviewers have said, the words used are not the ones you would expect from a five-year-old, but it doesn't matter, because the story is being told for adults, and adults need to have the innocence and the emotions of a little girl translated for them; otherwise they don't take it seriously. So Pea speaks with her heart, and the words appear in a form that adults can understand. And who else could have told this story? The mother is too bound up with her depression, her pregnancy and her worries for the future, whereas little Pea is the one who keeps the show on the road and ultimately finds the way forward not only for herself and her sister but for her mother, her grandmother, Claude and Josette, to say nothing of the new baby who, cleverly, is one of the main characters despite not having been born until nearly the final page.
I would be proud to have written this book, and feel much richer for having read it.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, fragile story 12 Jan 2014
By Stella
This story, told through the eyes of five-year-old Pea, is told with tenderness and fragility. She stays positive, in the way that children do, even though her whole world is crumbling to pieces around her. She doesn't realise the seriousness of her situation. Her father has recently died and her heavily pregnant mother spirals into depression and has stopped taking care of her daughter. Pea eats what she finds and runs around the meadows of Southern France like a wild child until and elderly neighbour, Claude, and his dog, Merlin, take pity on her and provide her with some care of sorts.
Pea has a four-year-old sister, Margot, who accompanies her on all her adventures. Though the reader realises there is something not quite right about Margot, when the truth is finally revealed, it is incredibly clever and touching at the same time.
There are very few adult novels in which children play an important role, let alone the lead role. Yet Pea wins the reader's heart right at the very beginning and doesn't let go all the way to the end. A lovely and original protagonist.
This book should definitely be recognised for the jewel that it is and deserves to be very widely read.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and moving, if a little sentimental 30 Sep 2013
By BookWorm TOP 500 REVIEWER
Beautifully written and moving, this novel is easy to read and engaging from the earliest chapters. It is narrated in the first person by five year old Peony, who lives in rural France with her depressed, pregnant mother and her younger sister. Pea is a likeable character and the reader quickly warms to her. I'm not always a fan of first person narrative by children, as it is very rarely done well. I think King does a fine job of it here though - she manages to get the right balance of naivety and insight, and makes the voice realistic without being cloying. Peony comes across as neither too wise nor too stupid, both easy traps to fall into with a child narrator. In fact reading this reminded of what it was like to be and think like a child, which is testament to how successfully the technique works here.

The other characters are well drawn, even the mother who never falls into the realm of cartoon villainy, even through the eyes of a child. She is a potentially a very interesting character, and we don't learn as much about her as we might because of the innocence of the narrator (one of my frequent gripes about first-person-child novels). In fact, we don't really get to know any of the adult characters very well - but that is part of the point and charm of the novel. Small children don't really know or understand even very close and beloved adults, and particularly lonely children like Peony and her sister often live in their own world of imagination. So it's not necessarily a fault of the book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't get it out of my head. 10 April 2014
By Kelly
I read this book on a long holiday last August and I still remember everything about Pea and her struggles. When I look at the cover it brings a smile to my face with fond memories - which have brought me here 8 months later to leave a review. Brilliantly book, unexpected twist (well for me anyway). Great short read. One to keep, will read again when I need to see the world through the eyes of a child, a less scary, care free, uncomplicated kind of world. Look forward to another novel by Claire King.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fab read. 1 Dec 2013
By lyssa
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I took The Night Rainbow away on holiday as a back-up in case I finished everything else but was drawn to read it as a break from chick-lit and before I got to grips with more 'worthy' stuff. It turned out to be one of the best books I read on that trip and I bored my husband stupid as I recounted the tale, its twists, and how I thought the tale would unfold. It is fairly easy to see the twists and turns as they approach - just step away from standard, predictable, reactions and question the behaviour of some of the characters (no spoilers because connecting with the story makes it even more special). I particularly liked how the author resisted the temptation to explore the adults' relationships and confined herself to the 'child's view' - can't have been easy! Another book for the 'keeper' shelf. I look forward to reading more by this author.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good read
Published 5 days ago by Kenny Maan
5.0 out of 5 stars I absolutely love this tale and I don't want to give anything ...
I absolutely love this tale and I don't want to give anything away so I'll just say that it is well written and grabs the reader's attention immediately. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Sheelagh
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
One of my favourite books in a long time.
Published 17 days ago by Nessie
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A beautiful book about childhood and growing up. Magical realism at its best.
Published 18 days ago by Caroline Denyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing book.. Loved it and read it in 24 hours.
Published 23 days ago by Newbury Girl
3.0 out of 5 stars Lovely writing but got a bit bored
I loved the writing style of Claire King in The Night Rainbow. I wanted to be alongside Pea running around South of France and eating all her meals and being in that heat. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Sophie Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely story
Beautiful story about a lonely little girl and her bereaved mother; although it doesn't seem possible, everything's alright in the end.
Published 1 month ago by Christine
5.0 out of 5 stars heartbreaking and heartwarming
This book was fascinating and cleverly written. I fell in love with all the characters. I guessed the twist very early on and would love to know when everyone else works it out!
Published 1 month ago by Ms. Nl Lawton
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and emotive story
I purchased this book along with lots of others in anticipation of getting a kindle in a few weeks time, so I had plenty of things to fill it with when it arrived! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Melmo
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok if nothing better to read
Wasn't that impressed
Published 1 month ago by Jane Parker
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