A good read

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall

I've never read Peter Pan so I cannot tell you what relation this book has to J M Barrie's more famous novel except for the title which it borrows from Peter Pan's description of Neverland. In Astonishing Splashes of Colour, we meet Kitty Maitland in the years following the birth of her still- born child and her inability to have any more children. She's struggling to cope with the emptiness she feels inside and attempts to find out more about the mother she never knew. Her large family is of not much support and her husband James is warm but distant. Kitty's attempt to make sense of the world around her, her extraordinary escapes into her inner self, the surprise unravelling of a family secret, the absolutely unpredictable risks she takes and the ultimate resolution of her inner turmoil form the rest of this gripping debut novel.

Kitty endears herself as a warm but unstable thirty-two year old who feels trapped as a motherless and childless entity. One with no past and no future, as she likes to say. We like her so much that we are prepared to forgive her for her often irrational, child-like behaviour.

Kitty's strong association of colours with every period of her life is beautifully crafted. They shimmer and spring out of the pages staining every mood, every situation. Fantastic! The plot has a few uneven moments but rides over these little glitches to paint an extraordinary picture. Wonderful!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith

Is there such a thing as too much of a good book? This is the last in the series (though second in order of publishing) of the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series that I'm reading and I'm beginning to tire of the simple, uncomplicated plotlines which miraculously resolve themsselves before the 220th page is reached.
In Tears of the Giraffe, an American mother contacts Mma Ramotswe to help find her son who has gone missing for 10 years. Mma Ramotswe finds her life in danger when her fiance Mr J L B Matekoni's maid has had enough of her. There's also a client who suspects his wife of infidelity. All of these issues conclude satisfactorily and in the last page we also find out the reason for the title. Awww...
As always, the characters are finely etched and the humour is gentle. But is it all too easy? And the way Africa and Botswana in particular is portrayed, seems (at times and because of the repetition) patronising. Like a tourist's view of a country. Superficial and on the surface.
Oh dear! I knew I shouldn't have overdosed on this series. Ah well, will try something meatier next time.

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