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97 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I would be proud to have written this book, and feel much richer for having read it.
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,...
Published 21 months ago by Tony Whelpton

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short but sweet...
An enjoyable book that shows the raw emotion of love and loss through an optimistic 5 year olds eyes. It is really sweet and you can almost put yourself in five year old Pea's shoes. It's quite different from many other books I've read.

That said, it does have some flaws: I think it could have been longer than 256 pages - although it is beautifully written, I...
Published 2 months ago by Andrea Smith


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97 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I would be proud to have written this book, and feel much richer for having read it., 8 July 2013
By 
Tony Whelpton (Cheltenham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Night Rainbow (Kindle Edition)
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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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, fragile story, 12 Jan. 2014
This review is from: The Night Rainbow (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and moving, if a little sentimental, 30 Sept. 2013
By 
BookWorm "BookWorm" (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Night Rainbow (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. As an adult reader you do feel anxiety throughout the story as you can understand the possible implications of certain events in a way that Pea cannot, but I never lost respect for her as a character and it isn't one of those books where everything is blindingly obvious to the reader and not to the central character. There's also a rather clever subtle twist, which becomes apparent around halfway through the book.

King writes with a very vivid sense of place, and I could visualise the places described easily. She conjures up the heat of a southern French summer, and the atmosphere of a small village populated in equal parts by local people and holidaymakers. In situations like this a child narrator works well as she innocently describes things in a way an adult might not, but which is instantly recognisable and accurate. There are also some moments of humour, but never at the expense of the young narrator. The story could be criticised for being a bit sentimental and possibly even cliché, and some may find that more of a problem than others. I didn't really mind as I felt the quality of the writing and emotional investment I felt in the plight of the central character outweighed any such objections. With the same story told less well I may have found it more annoying.

Overall, this is a great short novel, well written and a good read for anyone who likes to empathise with characters. I would read more by the same author and would be interested to see what other types of novel she can produce. The book reminded me a bit of 'When God Was A Rabbit', although they are stylistically very different, in terms of how it made me feel. Also 'The Earth Hums in B Flat', although that has a much older and arguably more naïve narrator.
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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
This review is from: The Night Rainbow (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fab read., 1 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: The Night Rainbow (Paperback)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet but slim look at grief through the eyes of a child, 12 Jan. 2014
This review is from: The Night Rainbow (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. Pea's innocence and attempts to help cheer up Maman are at times heart breaking and it's difficult to read this book without feeling critical of the mother (albeit she has good reasons for her behaviour), which is why I think King needed to show more of her isolation and the tension between her and her partner's mother.

The twists are quite easy to guess and this book won't appeal to those who prefer plot-heavy stories. However, it's a well-written, sweetly told tale that stays on the right side of sentimentality.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read, 7 April 2014
This review is from: The Night Rainbow (Kindle Edition)
Loved this beautiful, sensitive, heartbreaking, heartwarming book. Pea is an incredible character, beautifully realized, an amazing little girl. Some of the bits were hard to read, and I was so angry with her mum, but Pea herself makes us see the world in such a positive light, like children do, she lifts even the worst times with her upbeat nature. Highly recommended.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Character Voice, 8 July 2013
By 
Dani (United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Night Rainbow (Hardcover)
I was looking for something new to read when I stumbled upon this book. It did more than impress me. The author captures the voice of the main character perfectly. I've seen a few complaints that the voice sounds older than the actual age of the narrator, but I don't think that's true at all. I can understand that you maybe wouldn't expect a five year old to express themselves so well, but that doesn't mean the thoughts aren't inside their heads waiting to burst out. In my experience children have very complex thoughts and experiences, and just because you couldn't expect a child to speak to you in this way doesn't mean that a writer shouldn't be able to voice that kind of experience.

This book was a truly refreshing read, touching on some tough topics but doing so in a way that doesn't make the book feel like a public service announcement or overly serious. It really took me to another place while I read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, imaginative novel with an enchanting 5-year-old narrator, 4 July 2014
This review is from: The Night Rainbow (Paperback)
The Night Rainbow is a charming and unpredictable book, narrated by the very sweet and imaginative Pea, ably assisted by her even more imaginative – and more than a little precocious – sister, Margot. They, and the rest of the characters, are vivid and memorable, and the story is orginal and beautifully-written.

Pea is five, Margot is four, and they live with their English mother in a small French village. Their father recently died and their mother is too overwhelmed by her own grief to take care of the two little girls. The Night Rainbow takes place over a hot summer, during which time the girls live the lives of much older children. They make their own meals, clean and dress themselves, and spend their days in the meadows and rivers around their home. They make their own entertainment and, when they aren’t letting their imaginations run wild, they plan how to get their mother back to her old self.

But despite their best efforts – picking cheer-inducing yellow flowers, doing the laundry, being extra-helpful – Pea can’t reconnect with her mother, can’t draw her out of her sadness. Pea is remarkably resilient but has increasingly frequent bad days, where her own frustration and sadness and anger overwhelm her. One of the most memorable scenes for me is when Pea finally stops tiptoeing around her mother and releases all her pent-up emotions – it’s a scene that made me proud of this plucky little girl but also incredibly sad.

Aside from Margot, Pea doesn’t have any friends because she doesn’t go to school – but she is curious and polite and friendly with anyone who extends her some kindness. Over the course of the summer, there is one person who is particularly kind to Pea and Margot: Claude, their neighbour, along with his dog Merlin. Claude and Merlin spend almost as much time in the meadows as Pea and Margot, and he indulges their games of make-believe with enthusiasm. But sometimes Claude shuts down when Pea’s questions become too personal, and she is vaguely aware that her other adult friends aren’t especially happy at her new friendship with Claude. What is he not telling her, and does that mean that he can’t be their new papa, as Pea and Margot hope?

The Night Rainbow is beautifully paced and vividly imagined – I felt like I was there in their small cottage, lying in the grass looking at clouds, or running through the meadows with them. The narrative is well-crafted and Pea’s voice is appropriately young and naive but also insightful enough for an adult reader to piece together more about the family’s situation – a bit like The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, perhaps. Having said that, it’s the kind of book I hope is never made into a film, because I can’t see how a film would ever do it justice.

This book will tug at your heartstrings, and make you both smile and cry. It will puzzle you and gently surprise you, and it feels both unreal (in the way that stories set in hazy, hot summer days often do) and completely real at the same time. It’s also a story both of sadness and of the simple, everyday joy that only a child can find. It’s really a wonderful debut novel from Claire King, and one that makes me look forward to what she does next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something a little bit different, 26 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: The Night Rainbow (Paperback)
This has been a book that has been on my TBR pile for a long time, finally I got round to reading it and I am unsure on how to actually rate and review this book. It is like nothing I have ever read before.

This story is told by Pea a five and a half year old girl, I struggled with this concept to begin with, I am a teacher who teaches this age group and some of the vocabulary used I found a little unbelievable, especially by Margot Pea's 4 year old sister. She is very wise for her years and I had to regularly tell myself she was the younger of the two.

I struggled with my emotions through this book, the children just want to make their mother happy and dream up challenges they can do to make this a reality; as since Pea's father died the mother has never really had the time for them. This has left Pea and Margot to their own devises most of the time, which I personally struggled to deal with while reading.

Pea and Margot spend a lot of their time in the meadows, this is where they meet Claud. This also I found was a strange relationship and as an adult, at times I feared for the children and couldn't work out what he was up to. This shows through this novel, how easy it is for a child to trust a stranger and how easy they can be led. Yet again something I found difficult to read.

I don't want to say an awful lot about the plot as it will give it away. I found it hard to get into initially, due to my own struggles with the book I feel. However I also found it a bit slow, from finishing the book I understand why this is the case and why it was necessary to build up the characters and your feelings for them.

Just over half way through the book I had twigged - (this is all I can say without giving it away) but then spent the rest of the book looking for clues. Once I had twigged, yet again my emotions took a turn.

I am finding it difficult to rate this book because of the way it made me feel and how the lasting effect has had on me. I think though this is a brilliantly written story and Claire King has done it justice. If you want something a bit different I would recommend this. I have rated this book as 4* down to the way it has been written and the way the book made me feel.

This was not my usual read, but it was nice to read something a little different.
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The Night Rainbow
The Night Rainbow by Claire King (Paperback - 1 Aug. 2013)
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