Monday, 6 January 2014

The Night Rainbow - Claire King

Happy New Year to all my readers, and I think I may have found one of my favourites for 2014, even though we are still in January!  What a lovely, lovely read this was, a book lent by a friend.

Pea, our five year old narrator, is having a bad time.  She and her little sister Margot who is as bright as a button are sad because their mother is very pregnant  and very sad, having lost her husband, their father, in a farming accident.  They have no money, and no other friends.  But people do look out for them.  The postlady, the old girl who keeps donkeys in a field nearby, and Claude, the village eccentric and his waggy-tailed dog Merlin.  And so the sisters spend a hot summer being observed but running wild, preparing their own food and being neglected by their mother.  The story is set in southern France, and is really the story of how different people deal with grief.

Their mother, "Maman", is English and has has already lost a child, a stillborn, before her husband dies.  She has taken to her bed.  The girls have lost their Papa then, but for a time, also their Maman, who is really not bothered with anything since Papa died.  Then there is Claude, who is a sad man, very deaf,  keeps himself away from the villagers but keeps a lookout for the girls.  But that is a worry too.  Why is he so keen to be around them?

The story is told in the first person by Pea, who will make you laugh, but will also make you feel the sadness in the family. And it's in the present tense, which is not everyone's cup of tea but for this tale is perfect.  And there is such a lovely little twist towards the end which I urge you not to miss.