Sunday, April 30, 2006

Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall

As a mother, I found this book difficult to read at times, though not because it was badly written. It's the story of a woman's depression following the death of her infant son, and of her confusing relationship with her own family, where all is not as it first appears. The parts where the narrator, Kitty, dwells on the death of her baby, and on the loss of possibilities in her own life, are sad, vivid and very realistic. But the book is also about Kitty's family; where are her mother and her sister? Why will no one talk about them? Kitty is an island, alone among a distant father, unhelpful brothers and a husband who refuses to discuss the dead baby; she is longing for these missing women.

A subtext of dread runs through parts of the book, as if a scary Alfred Hitchcock sort of soundtrack is playing in your head. This is especially true during the scenes where Kitty's depression unhinges her, and causes her to engage in psychotic behavior. I kept waiting for something really bad to happen, though nothing ever does; even things that could be potentially really awful don't work out that way. In fact, after reading about 40 pages of the book, I was going to abandon it because I thought it would be too unpleasant, but the friend who recommended it was able to reassure me enough so that I could continue. That's why I'm offering the same reassurance here -- don't give up on this book, even if you find it initially a little disturbing.

Here is a link to a review from the Guardian, and also an interview with the author.
(Book 19, 2006)


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