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Sunday, February 12, 2006

cover of Astonishing Splashes of Colour

Savored this book (including the British words). It is the story of a woman named Kitty who discovers that life is not as she wants it to be, or as it appears, or even as other people want it to be. Kitty is sensitive to those around her -- to how they are reacting to her and what sort of relationship they have or want to have with her. She has 5 brothers, a father, and a husband who are all wonderfully particular and have varying relationships with her. None of these relationships are stagnant, and each time she interacts with any of them she tests the waters to see how they both have changed. Her awareness of details is wonderful -- because they are not typical details.

The title refers to the way Kitty sees colour in the world, and understands people (who they are, what they are feeling, how they fit together) in colour. This applies to couples and if they fit together or not. For instance, her husband, James, is all white with very little colour, and she is mostly 'frenetic whirls of colour' (p95). But sometimes they are able to match each other and fit properly so things make wonderful sense between them without trying. Colour is used in various places in the book, but I wish it had been used more fully. It seems there are more situations where Kitty's perception of colour and emotion would have enhanced and tied the title in more completely.

Kitty has some wonderful ideas and questions throughout the book, because things affect her so deeply. Dealing with hard pieces of life (life, death, children) within the mind of someone who is 'on the edge' gives morrall an interesting opportunity to speak that these are serious issues and don't always make sense. That sometimes our reactions to them need to be questioned and our motives checked. Because her father isn't captured well in photographs, she wonders if she only sees half of her mother in photographs. (p74) There's an older woman who has Kitty over for tea and tells her stories that don't all fit together, and Kitty wonders if memories are simply pieces of truth that have gotten confused and disconnected. (p118) Do you become invisible if people stop noticing you and being affected by you? Can you just disappear? (p147) She wonders if you can make up for abandoning children by caring for other children. Does 2 known children make up for 1 lost child? (p215) Is it worth going backwards and remembering the past to have a chance to move forward? (p310)

Morrall also makes some wonderful connections with Narnia and Neverland. They are both separate realities where there are different rules for life. The fact that these are two of the main connections with literature is intentionally done. Kitty is a reader of young adult manuscripts, so it makes sense these 'children's stories' would come into play. But they are not just for children. Sometimes adults also need places to escape to, and stories to hear that are not their own.

Title:Astonishing Splashes of Colour
Author:Clare Morrall
Date published:2003
Number of pages:322
Notes:Recommended by Betty


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