Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall

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Astonishing Splashes Of Colour : Shortlisted for the 2003 Man Booker Prize

Five words from the blurb: vivid, child, grief, eccentric, family

Astonishing Splashes of Colour is a vivid account of the grief felt by one woman because of her inability to have children. The central character, Kitty, desperately tries to be happy but every time she sees
a child she is reminded of her pain.

Although much of the book deals with a difficult subject matter there is a lot of humor. Kitty’s failed attempts to entertain her nieces were almost farcical and there were moments when I felt guilty for laughing at her.

Kitty also suffers from synaesthesia so scenes are overlaid with a colour specific to the mood or event taking place. This added another dimension to the book and never felt gimmicky.

I watch her walk miserably away with her two children and wish I could help her, although I know I can’t. She chose the wrong person. The yellow is changing. I can feel it becoming overripe – the sharp smell of dying daffodils, the sting and taste of vomit.

Although it can’t be described as fast-paced the mysteries surrounding Kitty’s past drive the plot forward and I was gripped to the emotional narrative throughout.

This book does a fantastic job of investigating the problems faced by vulnerable members of society and I loved the way it highlighted their problems without being condescending. I also appreciated the inclusion of a character with Asperger’s syndrome (Kitty’s husband). Did anyone else notice this, or am I reading too much into things?

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys getting inside the head of beautifully flawed characters. I’ll be thinking about this family for a long time to come.

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This was my first Clare Morrall book, but it definitely won’t be my last. Her new novel, The Roundabout Man, is published next week and I am also keen to read, The Language of Others, which is about a woman with Asperger’s syndrome.

Have you read any of her books?

Which do you recommend?


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