Breathing In Colour Paperback – 5 Mar 2009
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An emotional and gripping story set in India, about a synaesthesiac girl and the fractured relationship she has with her mother
About the Author
Clare Jay's short stories and poetry have won prizes and appeared in anthologies. She has a PhD in Creative Writing and tutors the subject at university level. She has led 'Dreaming into writing' workshops at international conferences and has lived in five European countries and travelled extensively in South-East Asia. BREATHING IN COLOUR is her first novel.
Top customer reviews
The reader is led along the journey with Alida, and experiences the rich sense of sounds, places, people and experiences that take place during her search. The character of Mia suffers from synaesthesia, a neurological sensory condition, and I felt that Clare Jay described Mia's feelings very well to the lay reader. As we are led towards the conclusion of the story, the reader is desperate to find out whether Alida manages to find Mia through a selection of highly complicated and vague clues, and whether Alida can learn to forgive Mia and regain a long lost relationship with her child.
An excellent story of being a mother, being a daughter, love, forgiveness and India.
The 'disaster' which caused a rift between Mia and Alida is hinted at throughout the early part of the book, with the tension building up nicely to the final chapters when we find out what happened and why mother and daughter have been so estranged from one another ever since. As Alida desperately follows the clues to her daughter's disappearance, she comes to realise what she needs to do to bring Mia back, both physically and emotionally.
Synaesthesia is a fascinating and very rich subject for a novel. I read Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall a couple of years ago and, while I enjoyed that book very much for other reasons, it didn't really explain synaesthesia to me or give me much of an idea of what people with the condition experience. I felt that Clare Jay has done a lot more research for Breathing in Colour, and really brought the subject to life for me through her characters' dreams and perceptions.
At the start, we are catapulted into the world of Alida, mother of Mia, an eighteen year old who has gone missing whilst backpacking. As we follow Alida through the sensory overload that is India, we experience her emotional pain, learn of the mysterious and terrible thing that has split the family and discover about Mia and her synaesthesia from her diary entries, which intersperse her mother's frantic search.
As I read, often late into the night, I couldn't help but compare this book with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, another book that I found compelling reading. Though there are similarities, in that one of the main characters is simultaneously hampered by and talented with an unusual brain condition, Breathing in Colour is a very much more grown-up novel, delving into a flawed emotional relationship between mother and daughter, in breath-taking fashion.
Jay writes exquisitely and intelligently. This is story-telling at its height.
Highly recommended for anyone looking for an intelligent novel with a difference.
There are a few scenes which are a little 'feminine' and possibly more suited to female readers, but this may be more to do with me than the author!
Thoroughly recommended - you will laugh and cry and be taken to India all at the same time.
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