Having had such different reactions to 'The Man who Disappeared' and 'Natural Flights of the Human Mind' I reserved 'Astonishing Splashes of Colour', Clare Morrall's Booker Prize shortlisted novel. It came in large print from the library, but I still wore my glasses to read it, is that a bad sign? My reaction to this one was somewhere in between.
Kitty lost her baby, and lives next door to her husband. And that's not even the weirdest thing going on in her life. A missing sister, a dead mother and a strange concoction of brothers add to the mix. The sturdy reliable grandparents who could have been some real support to her have been abandoned in favour of a flakey painter father who resents her going off to make a life of her own. She loiters outside school gates pretending to be collecting a child and is driven crazy by the idea (of her own making) that her sister-in-law has had an abortion. Things take a turn for the worse when she takes her nieces on a surprise trip to the theatre and you can kind of see the 'car crash' of events unfolding in slow motion. It's not surprising really considering she discovers that everything she thought was real about her life was a lie, no wonder she is such an emotional wreck. I almost felt it was too much to heap onto one poor defenceless character.
"But it won't be all right in the morning. I'll be as silent then as I am now. I have no past. No mother, no significance in my brother's lives, and no baby memories, because they have all been destroyed by my father. No future. No children to depend on me, to take a little bit of me, to remember me.
I go out when the sun begins to rise. I don't want anyone to come and find me, because I'm afraid they might not see me. I'm afraid that I don't really exist at all.
I walk a long way, right into the centre of the city and out again on the other side into an area where I've never been before. There are a few people around, even at this hour, but I look at the ground and pretend not to see them. I have too much silence in me to smile or say 'Good morning'. They are people going to work. Postmen, milkmen, shift workers waiting for the bus to take them to Longbridge, Cadbury's, all-night Sainsburys. They seem to purposeful. They know they exist, they know where they are going.
I walk fast. I want to look as if I know where I'm going, as if I have a purpose like everyone else." (Chapter 5)
Don't really have a lot to say, I have had other things preoccupying me and I kind of drifted through the book. In fact I have been drifting generally since I got back. What was so well written is her sense of dislocation from reality; despite her often bizarre behaviour you do get the twisted logic for each choice she makes. A story really about family, love, lies and memories, and how important they are for your sense of identity.
I have been writing a review of Virgin Suicides but we are going to turn Tuesday Knitting Club into a bit of a Book Club so I will put off posting it until everyone has read the book and we have had our discussion. I have a few days off and have mostly been knitting Hesfes Bunnies.