a powerful and poignant story of a childhood summer
I read this debut novel when I was ill in bed with flu - and I was transported. I was taken away from my aches, pains, shivers and sweats to a wonderful, warm, French summer. Even better, it was a childhood summer.
I was quickly immersed in the sights, sounds and scents of five-year-old Pea's world. And the story this engaging young narrator tells is moving, powerful and oh so vivid.
As the summer passes Pea and her younger sister, Margot are left to fill their days as they please in the meadows and fields near their house. Pea's widowed and pregnant mother is so pre-occupied with her own grief that she is unable to carry out any mothering duties. Indeed she spends most of her time in bed engulfed in and weakened by her sorrow.
Pea and Margot try to come up with ways to make their mother happy again including trying to find her a new husband. They befriend, and are befriended by Claude, a neighbouring farmer who is also burdened with grief. The girls play, explore and puzzle over the ways of the adults around them.
It's not an easy thing to tell a grown-up story through the eyes of a child and to render it realistic and poignant for adult readers but Claire King makes it look simple.
This is an enchanting and charming book which will make you both smile and reminisce about the innocence of childhood -and cry with recognition at the loss of that innocence that adulthood brings.
It is a perfect summer read and indeed a winter sickbed one too.
The Night Rainbow is published by Bloomsbury and is available in bookshops and on Amazon.
Anne Stormont is a writer and teacher. She can be a subversive old bat but maintains a kind heart. As well as writing for this fine organ, she writes fiction for adults - mainly of the menopausal and post-menopausal female persuasion - and for children. She blogs at http://annestormont.wordpress.com - where you can find out lots more about her.