Claire King grew up in Mexborough, South Yorkshire and studied economics at Newnham College, Cambridge. She has worked variously as a barmaid, a book-seller, a riding instructor, a fiction editor and in a leper colony. She spent the last twenty years working anywhere in business that allowed her to tell stories. Claire's prize winning short fiction has been published online and in print including The New Scientist, The Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology and Writers Forum magazine.
Claire has lived and worked in the UK, mid-west USA, India and Ukraine and she now works in France where she lives in a ramshackle old house in the mountains with her husband and their two daughters.
People who have been with me for a while know I have been eying this book since I first heard of it. I have no self control when it comes to pretty covers and the synopsis of this book raised so many questions I needed answers for. When the book arrived I dropped everything and started reading.
This book breaks your heart. It is not even painful because it happens slowly. Every page you turn, every new day Pea starts and ends a little part breaks and you do not realize until the book is over how bad it is.
I have to start with saying that Pea is believable. She is a 5 year old in her imagination and her choice of words. In the way she sees things and how she comes to conclusions. The ideas Pea and Margot come up with to try and make Maman happy and how they get to those ideas is just done in such a great way. Simple example. Maman likes yellow so they wear their yellow dresses because that must make Maman happy. There are a lot of these situations where the little girls come up with ideas to make Maman happy and every time their attempt fails it is sad. I really started to hate Maman a bit, I felt like stepping up and telling her HEY she is just 5 give her a break. But the on other hand there is the way Pea talks about her Maman, she really loves her Maman and think she must be a princess or something because she used to be so beautiful. Pea understands that loosing the baby and her father made Maman sad and Pea loves her Maman to pieces.
The story itself had some surprising moments. Things I did not catch until halfway the book and made things even sadder actually.
Now this review does not make it sound like a pleasant book to read but it actually is. The whole atmosphere of the South of France with all the good food and space and beautiful surroundings is well set. It made me want to go on holiday there and it made me very hungry. The description of market day in a small French town makes it clear Claire King knows her spots there. And yes even though Pea's story is sad there are so many great adventures she has with Margot, Claude and Merlin too. I really felt like a 5 year old running trough fields and discovering things. To show you some of the beauty in this book a few quotes:
Witches do that, they put things you want in places you shouldn't go.
I know about skeletons. Once I went to a museum and saw dinosaur skeletons. They are like jigsaw puzzles for scientists.
“Where is your maman?
I don't know.
I think we've gone and lost her, Pea. Papa's voice dissolves into the colours behind my eyes.
I'm sorry Papa. I don't know how to find her, I say.”
The word seems to come out of me all on its own. I think it's strange my mouth would do that. The rest of my head knows she's never there.
The Night Rainbow
Author: Claire King
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
Publisher: eBook | Hardcover | Paperback
The Night Rainbow by Claire King - book trailer