The Night Rainbow: A Novel

( 4 )

Overview

It is summer in the south of France, and Pea and her little sister Margot spend their days running free, inventing games in the meadow behind their house. But Pea has worries beyond her five and a half years. Her father has died in an accident, and her mother has just lost a baby. Maman is English, already isolated in this small, foreign village, and in her compounded grief, she has retreated even further. Pea and Margot stay out of her way and try to make things better, but ...

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The Night Rainbow: A Novel

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Overview

It is summer in the south of France, and Pea and her little sister Margot spend their days running free, inventing games in the meadow behind their house. But Pea has worries beyond her five and a half years. Her father has died in an accident, and her mother has just lost a baby. Maman is English, already isolated in this small, foreign village, and in her compounded grief, she has retreated even further. Pea and Margot stay out of her way and try to make things better, but they can't make Maman happy again.

When Pea befriends Claude, a man who seems to love the meadow as she does, she wonders if he could be a new papa. But why do the other villagers view Claude with suspicion, and what secrets does his large empty house hold?

Beautifully written, haunting, and full of surprises, The Night Rainbow is a novel about innocence and experience, grief and compassion, and the blessings and perils of imagination.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"One of the most remarkable features of The Night Rainbow is the language, shaped entirely through Pea's perceptions. The children's powerful imagination and cleverness define the narrative...King's story of a young child's quest for a light in the profound darkness of her life reaches deep into the complexities of human consciousness." — ShelfAwareness

 

"With a narrative voice reminiscent of young Jack from Emma Donoghue's Room, observing evreything but lacking the wisdom to truly understand the grown-up world, this surprising and enchanting first novel is enthusiastically recommended." — Library Journal

 

"King accurately captures the speech rhythms and partial understanding of a small child. Well-written and sometimes quite moving." — Kirkus Reviews

 

"Poetic, engaging...King's authorial voice shines through Pea, as her skillful narrative is childishly authentic without being cloying or cutesy. Reminiscent of Myla Goldberg's Bee Season and Emma Donoghue's Room but decidedly lighter...Gorgeously written and deeply heartfelt." — Booklist

Kirkus Reviews
Technically accomplished debut chronicles a difficult summer in the south of France from the point of view of a lonely 5-year-old. Her English-born mother named her Peony, her French father called her Pivoine, but her nickname--Pea--seems most appropriate for this little girl tightly enclosed in a pod of her own anxieties and imaginings. She has few reasons for cheer, we learn in the opening pages of her artless narration. Last summer, "Maman came back from the hospital…changed from fat to thin, but she didn't bring back the baby like she promised." This past spring, shortly after Maman got pregnant again, Papa died in a freak accident; "he was driving his tractor on a hill and he fell off it and was squashed." Reeling from her losses, feeling isolated and unwelcome in this small French community--Papa's mother, Mami Lafont, openly wishes she would just go away--Maman now hardly ever leaves the house, or even her bedroom. Pea and her 4-year-old sister Margot are left to roam the countryside, attracting the attention of a kindly neighbor named Claude who has losses of his own to mourn. King accurately captures the speech rhythms and partial understandings of a small child as she unfolds the array of disasters large and small that befall Pea in the months before her brother Pablo is born; her descriptions of the French landscape and animals are exact and lovely. But as grown-up issues begin to loom large in the narrative, and as readers slowly sense that something is not quite right about Margot, the author's decision to restrict us to Pea's point of view comes to seem like a mistake. Revelations of adult complexities are couched in frustratingly simplistic language, and the resolution of Maman's conflict with Mami Lafont, viewed through Pea's eyes, lacks emotional depth. Hampered by a limited perspective, though well-written and sometimes quite moving.
Library Journal
Five-year-old Pea (shortened from her French name, Pivoine) and her eerily precocious younger sister, Margot, are left to their own devices for most of one oppressively hot summer in the French countryside after their father is killed in a farm accident and their pregnant and deeply depressed mother takes to her bed. When their attempts at helpfulness around the house fail to lift Maman's spirits, the girls escape to the cooler fields nearby, where they invent games and are soon befriended by their neighbor, Claude, and his affectionate dog, Merlin. There is an air of sadness hanging over Claude, as well, but his kind concern and his provisioning of a tree fort filled with games and snacks is gratefully received by the lonely and ever-hungry Pea. VERDICT With a narrative voice reminiscent of young Jack from Emma Donoghue's Room, observing everything but lacking the wisdom to truly understand the grown-up world, this surprising and enchanting first novel is enthusiastically recommended.—Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608199440
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 4/9/2013
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,448,283
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.21 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Claire King was born in England, educated at Cambridge, and is the fiction editor for The View from Here magazine. Her short stories have been shortlisted for the BBC's Opening LInes program and the Bristol Short Story Prize. She lives in the south of France with her husband and two children. This is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2013

    Outstanding first novel by Claire King. She captures the point

    Outstanding first novel by Claire King. She captures the point of view of five year old Pea perfectly. Well done!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2014

    Love of a child is very strong but when death comes, it tears you apart.

    Very touching story. A must read book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2014

    Contrived

    Borrow not buy

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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