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The Night Rainbow Paperback – 1 Aug 2013

257 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (1 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408841843
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408841846
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (257 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 36,115 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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Tony Whelpton on 8 July 2013
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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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Colette Victor on 12 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback
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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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By BookWorm TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback
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 By Kelly on 10 April 2014
Format: Paperback
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By I Read, Therefore I Blog VINE VOICE on 12 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback
Pea (short for Peony) is five and a half years old. She lives in a farmhouse in France with her younger sister Margot and her mother (Maman), who's pregnant. Pea's father died in an accident the year before and all Maman's really wanted to do since is sleep so Pea and Margot entertain themselves by playing in the surrounding countryside. It's there that she meets Claude and his dog Merlin. Claude's got a strange face and walks with a limp but he's nice and makes a nest for Pea and Margot to play in. So why do Pea's other neighbours object to her playing with him? And why doesn't he want to be her new papa?

Claire King's debut novel is a sweet but slim tale of grief seen through the eyes of a child. Pea is an utterly delightful character and I completely believed in the games she plays with Margot, albeit the dialogue at times is a little too precocious. I enjoyed the slow reveals of the various secrets although I did guess the twists. I also felt that Maman was a little underdeveloped and would have liked to have seen more interaction with the villagers, especially Josette and Mami Lafont given they are important to the two main storylines. It's a short book and there isn't a huge amount of plot, but the characterisation of Pea goes a long way to offset that and I would definitely check out King's next book.

Pea is front and centre to the story and King gives her a narrative voice that's for the most part convincing (albeit some of the vocabulary at times seems a little advanced). The best scenes in the book are those where she's playing and talking with Margot, whose observations on the world and the adults around them are pertinent and sometimes cutting.
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