Learn more Download now Browse your favorite restaurants Shop now Shop now flip flip flip Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more

TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 December 2016
As O'Farrell says, I too will not forget Pea, the main protagonist in this stunning debut. She is a heroine - a delightful girl who has the heart of an angel and the kindness of a fairy. Her voice is immediately compelling and I was transfixed from the opening page. Although only 5, her voice is endearing, yet fresh, and sometimes so starkly insightful it brings a lump to your throat.

"Margot is like me and she is not like me. I am 5 and a half. Margot is only 4 but she's tall for her age. We both like cuddles and insects and cuddling insects and we both have freckles and green eyes, like Maman, with sparkles of blue and brown. In the sunlight Maman's eyes are kaleidoscopes. Margot and I are the same and not the same, you can tell by our dreams. I am always dreaming about witches chasing me, or picnic days at the beach before all the dying happened - these are the best ones. Margot dreams more about the tiny people that live in the cupboards and have parties on Thursdays, and about jigsaws that make themselves."

"Jigsaws that make themselves" - I love that. So simple, yet so profound. A child's voice but a image that is laden with deeper meaning. This sums up Pea. Pea whose father has died in an accident, whose mother is grieving the recent loss of baby and now, heavily pregnant has neither the physical energy nor the emotional strength to look after Pea and Margot. The girls are left to play in the meadows surrounding their home, inventing games and setting themselves the daily challenge of trying to make their Maman happy again. Their life is a jigsaw of grief, loss, responsibility and worry which Pea and Margot try to put together again with their imaginary adventures.

But despite a life of such a broken jigsaw with missing pieces, this is not a depressing read at all. Pea's voice is strong and her observations of the world around her capture her sense of bemusement, delight and discovery. We are gently immersed back into the world of a young child and invited to see the world from her perspective. King captures the voice of a 5 year old effortlessly. I was convinced from the start.

"That [father's death] was tragic, the priest at the church said so, but afterwards it was a catastrophe."

King has taken a few liberties with the voice but only to enhance the readability of the book. She ensures there are enough nuance and flourishes to remind us that this is a very young child. The conviction of Pea's voice comes from her innocence, naivety, Pea and Margot's struggle to understand the sometimes baffling behaviour of the adults and the lovely way in which a child can observe things yet completely miss their significance.

The girls' quest to find happiness is heartwarming. They want to fix things and their innovative and imaginative attempts to do so are charming and delightful to watch. They use their "cleverness" again and again and the reader cannot help but fall in love with them and will them to succeed.

King also uses metaphors throughout the poetic prose. Her imagery is stunning and there is a real sensory overload throughout the whole book. I was there. I was in France, in the summer, in the sticky heat, in the meadows and in the market place. Every sight, smell, touch or taste is captured and used to enhance the characters, the action and the plot. King also uses the imagery of nests, birds and flight which actually carry much more deeper, hidden meanings as the novel unfolds.

"the summer babies [birds], all thin and wobbly and not as polished as the grown ups. The mother bird...keeps leaving the wire and flies in big circles.....Come on, I think she is saying, flying is easy. But her children edge from side to side on the wire, cocking their heads and looking nervous.......She doesn't [put food into their mouths] anymore. They have to do it for themselves."

The descriptions are perfectly beautiful. Pea's candid and spontaneous descriptions are incredibly effective.

"Maman sits on the sofa, with her feet up on a stool and her plate balanced on top of her belly like a hat. I sit before her, just the tiniest amount of cool space between our warmnesses. It feels like nothing and everything."

"I don't even remember the last time she kissed me, because I never knew I had to."

And then there is the lovely humour which delicately lifts the book and levels any oppression from the enormity of what Pea and Margot are actually handling. For example when a neighbour calls around, Pea and Margot lean out precariously from an upstairs window reasoning:

"Firstly Maman seems really angry and it will be better if we are not there to get under her feet when she has finished her argument and secondly because if we lean out of the window we can see better."

I loved the dialogue and relationship between Margot and Pea. I find myself unable to think of any adjectives that would really do it justice or explain how well captured the dynamics are. They are so absorbed in their world, share so much, teach each other so much and the lovely attempts at assertion and superiority as they jostle against each other to prove their cleverness or competence are delightful, charming and heartwarming. Again, these keeps the tone light and gentle.

Another image that repeats throughout the novel is that of fairy tales, fairies and witches. Josette's house is described as a cottage made of bonbons and cakes and I think the allusion to fairy tales is quite deliberate. We are after all seeing the world through the eyes of a 5 year old and we are also being lulled into a world where reality and unreality become blurred, where we are encouraged - just like Pea and Margot - to make sense of what we are told through stories and made up games.

I really enjoyed the passage at Josette's house where she cuts Pea's hair by placing a bowl on her head.

"Is she going to make you into a salad? says Margot. Or a cake make of hair?"

The repetition of witches and Pea's fear of them reinforces King's exploration of dreams and happy endings. Pea can't articulate what it is she is scared of, she can't verbalise what her pain is or explain it and so she can't acknowledge it. The reader has to read between the lines, between the description, motifs and metaphors and begin to piece together the jigsaw themselves.

At some point I realised just how magnificent King's writing was and just what depth was disguised within the prose. And then towards the end of the novel there is a slight dramatic increase in pace, action and tension. When I finished the book I felt bereft but I also wanted to turn back to the beginning and read it again knowing what I had now learnt about the characters. I think reading it again would bring as much pleasure as the first time and even more appreciation for King's exquisite writing.

This is a story that will overwhelm you with the scent and heat of a summer in France, which will tickle you with the wings of a fairy and entertain you with the escapades of two young girls. It will also encourage you to see the world through new eyes - eyes which at times see things with more perception, frankness and profundity than any adult, while also not seeing the threats, dangers and complexity of what is happening around them.

Not since "Finding Martha Lost" or "The Museum of You" have I fallen in love with such a character like Pea. King's writing reminded me of Carys Bray, Joanna Harris and Jo Baker. Anyone who loves a well crafted, beautifully written tale that is about characters will love this. It's as uneventful as a remote french village highstreet but as colourful as the wild flowers in the meadow, slow like a siesta but as lush and juicy as the ripest peach.

It's a story about the blessings and perils of imagination and truth. It's about innocence, friendship, trust and love. There is grief, there is compassion. I just loved it. A stunning 5* read from me.
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 4 May 2015
I’ll get this out of the way first: reading The Night Rainbow had a profound effect on how I saw my own childhood and the different narratives of my own life. Sometimes you read a book and it does something to the chemical balance of your brain and you go, ‘Oh!’. Reading this book did that to me. It changed my life. Fiction can do this and it's remarkable.

Claire King has written a novel so delicately paced, so beautifully and often ‘innocently’ written that the style and content are often quite in contrast with each other. This in itself shows her skill as a writer and that writing about dark things can be done with a lightness of touch. It would be easy to mistake that lightness of touch with sweetness or sentimentality, but for me there just isn't any of that in this book at all. It is a book about coping, about how children recreate the world around them to make sense of it and to survive. This book deals with brutal things, and yet...

Pea, the narrator, is five and full of everything a child at that age might be: playing, games, food, fun, story telling, making up answers to adult questions she doesn't understand, trusting and blaming herself for things that go wrong due to adults and bad luck. She is funny, kind, sometimes greedy and always wanting to feel love and affection that her mother is unable to give. She longs for human touch, for the unconditional love we all want and need.

Her relationship with her sister Margot is one of mutual nurturing and teasing, kindness and competition. They egg each other on to be brave, to create mischief, to find the answer of how to make their mother happy again when she can barely get out of bed, let alone give them a hug or a kiss or the warmth they both crave. Many of the sisters' interactions are funny and I laughed several times. Their relationship is bitter sweet and necessary for their survival.

I love how King does all this without making the reader hate the mother. Whenever Pea describes her Maman's efforts, I leant forward in hope for all of the main characters. I know Pea's mother was not neglectful due to cruelty, and that added such pathos to the scenes where Pea thinks she is about to be shown love and some terrible accident, such as smashing a glass, makes her mother retreat and Pea feel deep guilt and shame.

Pea blames herself. She believes she and Margot have the power to make her mother happy; if she just finds the right thing, if she just makes herself perfect. This is heart-breaking and I cried several times at the injustice, inevitability and sadness of it.

The writing itself is full of beautiful imagery, delicious food and scenery, and, in fact, creates a sensory idyll that's impossible not to relish. I am one of those people whose best meals have been in books, and this does not disappoint. I would like to visit the farm, would like to go to the meadow. I would like to sit at the table and eat the salads and the pasta and the fruit, and share the bread. The descriptions are specific and often poignant. It's just excellent writing, that perfect combination of plot, style and thought that I long for in a book and won't stop raving about when I find it.

Without giving away plot, there are some terrific twists, and I love how King plays with the readers prejudices about adults and children and leads us down paths which seem predictable but in fact are anything but. The truth of this story is so much worse than what you start imagining. Pea is a very vulnerable child, and whilst the sweetness is there, her mind and body go to some terrifying places, from which, I wonder, how she will ever return from. Who is Pea as an adult and what is her life like?

There is an overall feeling that things will be okay, and towards the end of the novel, events do show that. It's hard to describe the journey Pea and Margot go through, or how brilliantly King shows the hurts and fears of the adults around them through Pea's own, unknowing eyes, but needless to say The Night Rainbow will be one I buy people as a gift for years to come and say, 'You've got to read this!'

It's so good, so deft, so articulate on human emotions, so deep with ideas about trust and loyalty and pain, about what we do when the world around us is too painful to accept or believe, that you'd think it would be hard going and difficult to stomach. It's not. This is a writer whose sentences gleam brightly, brilliant as Christmas; joyful as wrapped gifts and foil-covered sweets, and I, for one, cannot wait to see what she writes next.
4 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 26 February 2014
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.
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 23 February 2015
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 think the author could have better developed the characters in a longer novel. Some of the words used seem a little unrealistic for a five year old vocabulary. Oh and the mother's behaviour was a little frustrating and I didn't like her as a character at all.

Worth a buy if you find it on here at a bargain price as I did - it's interesting and original - but I'm not sure I'd pay full price for it to be honest.
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 6 May 2016
What a beautiful story and what beautiful writing! I also really enjoyed the South of France setting (it's where I'm from), and the landscape felt like a character in itself. There is sadness pervading this book, but what comes out most strongly is the incredible resilience of the young heroine. I would love to know what kind of a person Pea grows up to be.
2 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 28 July 2015
A beautifully written and imagined story. The author hits the mark perfectly for my tastes, with creative use of language without it becoming too literary and pompous. It was a satisfying story and I felt the role of Pea's sister, Margot, and the mother's back-story was left clear without the author spelling everything out to the reader. I read the book in one sitting and will look out for Claire King's next book with anticipation.
2 people found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 2 September 2014
I purchased this book along with lots of others in anticipation of getting a kindle in a few weeks time, so I had plenty of things to fill it with when it arrived!

After reading the first chapter on my phone out of curiousity, I found I could not put it down and read the whole thing on my tiny phone screen, which I feel is a testament to how much I enjoyed it, as that is not an easy thing to do!

The night rainbow is a beautiful and emotive story, essentially about neglect, and is so well written in the voice of 5 year old Pea that I felt like I was with her every step of the way. It was very refreshing to see a world through the eyes of a child and her innocence is portrayed perfectly. It had me smiling one minute and trying to hold back tears on a crowded train in the next. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who can handle a bit of the sentimental
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 5 October 2013
I only bought this book because it was recommended to me by Amazon and I was not disappointed! what a lovely, amazingingly brilliant, simple little book. I read the whole thing in just over a day as I was instantly captured by the magical style of the writing and imagery - almost like a bewitching spell that the novel casts, taking you away somewhere completely different while you are reading it. The novel made me laugh and cry, especially the lovely characterisations and the little twists and turns along the way. Absolutely brilliantly written and I will now have to go out and buy copies for all my friends. Thank you to the author Claire King for writing such a fantastic book.
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 9 August 2014
The Night Rainbow is a stunningly beautiful book. Five year old Pea tells her own story authentically and with the magical imagination of a child. Pea's mother is seriously depressed following the loss of her husband and baby. Pregnant again, she is failing to cope with even basic childcare. Pea pragmatically decides that she and her younger sister will make their mother happy again. The reader realizes what Pea does not, that suspicious and worried neighbours may threaten the family's future together. This is a wonderful book which I cannot recommend too highly.
One person found this helpful
|0Comment|Report abuse
on 9 May 2014
Bought because of the great reviews but it wasnt as great as I expected. Its beautifully written and the characters are wonderfully drawn especially the main character, 5 yr old Pea, who made you want to just pick her up and cuddle her on every page. I guessed the plot twist from the start so there were no surprises for me and the blurb on the back referred to Claudes secret, which again wasnt exactly unexpected and certainly didnt explain why certain villagers might have disapproved of his friendship with Pea. I judge a great book on how long it stays with me and this one is already starting to fade.
|0Comment|Report abuse

Questions? Get fast answers from reviewers

Please make sure that you've entered a valid question. You can edit your question or post anyway.
Please enter a question.

Need customer service? Click here