Astonishing Splashes Of Colour Paperback – 1 Feb 2003
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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.
New edition of Man Booker Prize shortlisted debut: 80,000 copies of previous Tindal Street Press edition sold since 2003See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
beautifully written, you feel all the confusion and pain, its not a happy read, but are left with a glimmer of hope.Published 13 months ago by dilbert rules
I enjoyed reading about someone who felt different that didn't fit into society and lived a "normal life" with work, home, family with. I loved the ending.Published 23 months ago by B Sheehan
This book recommended for Book Club readers had an unbelievable theme and was not very well written. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Shirley Stevens
Read this book as part of a book club - Powerful story revolving around a family and some deceptions within the family. Read morePublished on 14 Feb. 2013 by harriett durrance
This book is well written and handles the subject of depression and mental illness very well. I was disappointed at the end of the book since the ending did not seem to fit the... Read morePublished on 4 Feb. 2013 by jesa
I was hooked on the main character straight away and loved this book! I lived all her anguishes, believed all her eccentricities, loved her unusual relationship with her... Read morePublished on 3 Jan. 2012 by Love my Kindle
I bought this book mainly because of the word "synesthesia" in the blurb. As a synesthete myself I thought I was in for an interesting and gripping read. Read morePublished on 29 April 2011 by Jood
I had heard much about the book and have to say, the initial chapter was very promising, but it needed to be a much better novel to live up to its title. Read morePublished on 1 Jan. 2011 by Obalatan
This is an odd book in many ways. It may take some time to get into it. At first I found the central character, Kitty, rather exasperating and irritating in her odd behaviour. Read morePublished on 20 Aug. 2010 by Customer