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Astonishing Splashes Of Colour Paperback – 1 Feb 2003

3.4 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Tindal Street; Reprinted Edition edition (1 Feb. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0954130324
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954130329
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 987,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


When an innocent trip to Peter Pan gives Kitty's four brothers an excuse to deny her access to her much-loved nieces, she finds herself in a skewed, vividly coloured world where children become emblems of hope and longing and grief. Still reeling from the loss of her own "child that never was", Kitty is suddenly made shockingly aware of the real reason for her pervasive sense of "non-existence".  Suddenly, her family's oddness, the secrets of her mother's life and death, and the disappearance of her sister come into a new focus, as Kitty struggles for her own identity.

Book Description

New edition of Man Booker Prize shortlisted debut: 80,000 copies of previous Tindal Street Press edition sold since 2003

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Clare Morrall's Booker-shortlisted novel is a brave story about coping as a member of a dysfunctional family, and about getting by as an adult following an upbringing which has clearly been little less than disastrous. The title, taken from "Peter Pan", heralds a number of references, spread throughout the book, to colour as a metaphor for meaningfulness - or else its opposite...
A number of previous reviewers here would appear to have been rather severe in their pronouncements on this novel, and I really fail to see why. It is carefully written and constructed, using an ambivalent - and not wholly reliable - first-person narrator whose actions and decisions are often reckless, and who nevertheless comes over as a character the reader can't help feeling considerable sympathy for.
The narrator-character in question is Kitty, floundering around, trying to get along as best she can in the midst of her decidedly unconventional marriage to her docile and doting husband, her extremely unconscientious attitude to her work (she is a reviewer of children's books, but only when she is in the mood, which is not that often...), her eccentric and reclusive father, and the mixed fortunes of her four elder brothers, Adrian, Jake, Martin and Paul. Most importantly, Kitty is obsessed by the unresolved problems posed by her inexplicably absent mother and the baby she recently lost. Things do not get better for Kitty; rather, they go from bad to worse and worse, as she increasingly gets out of her depth and into situations she is clearly no longer capable of handling.
As a first novel, "Astonishing Splashes of Colour" is impressive in its honest and up-front treatment of painful subjects, and worthy of its 2003 Booker short-listing.
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Format: Paperback
I find the violent reaction against this book displayed by other reviewers somewhat surprising. OK, it has its flaws, but I can't believe anyone was honestly bored by it.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Astonishing Splashes of Colour, Clare Morrall's first published novel, takes its title from a description of Peter Pan's Neverland. It follows the life of an eccentric Birmingham woman who in a sense never has grown up. She is impulsive, doesn't follow conventional daily time tables and can be rather mischievous. But like a child she is someone you have an immediate affection for if only, for no other reason, the purity of her response to the world. It is revealed that Kitty reacts this way because of family tragedies that have impaired her ability to act rationally and develop a secure sense of self. She lives a kind of improvised life reviewing children's books, occasionally visiting her husband who lives in the apartment next door and fostering a strange obsession for her nieces as well as other children. The remote nature of her family relations makes it all too clear why this woman maintains a childish need for love and attention.
The great strength of this novel is the strong personality of the protagonist as she relates her tale in a barely chronological sequence (which suits her jumbled state of consciousness). We follow her mood swings which switch dramatically from joy to deep depression. These are illuminated by the way she views people that emanate certain colors in accordance with her emotions. She can be at one time horribly remote and at another time excruciatingly too personal. The plot quickly gains speed as the novel progresses revealing startling details about Kitty's past. It's to the author's credit that a seemingly innocent journey to the sea side can take on such dark undertones. We feel simultaneously sympathetic and horrified with Kitty for embarking on this impetuous journey. For all this novel's local flavor, it conveys universal truths about the bonds of family, the need for love and the subsistence of childhood innocence into adulthood.
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