The blurb: During one long, hot summer, five-year-old Pea and her little sister Margot play alone in the meadow behind their house, on the edge of a small village in Southern France. Her mother is too sad to take care of them; she left her happiness in the hospital, along with the baby. Pea’s father has died in an accident and Maman, burdened by her double grief and isolated from the village by her Englishness, has retreated to a place where Pea cannot reach her – although she tries desperately to do so.
Then Pea meets Claude, a man who seems to love the meadow as she does and who always has time to play. Pea believes that she and Margot have found a friend, and maybe even a new papa. But why do the villagers view Claude with suspicion? And what secret is he keeping in his strange, empty house?
Elegantly written, haunting and gripping, The Night Rainbow is a novel about innocence and experience, grief and compassion and the dangers of an overactive imagination.
My review: This is such a charming and sweet book. Claire King’s tale is told through the eyes of Pea or Pivoine (Peony), an enchanting five year old living with her Maman in the South of France. Pea spends her days running around the landscape with her sister Margot, running up to windy hill and playing in the low meadow with the donkeys. It’s here she meets Claude and his dog Merlin, neighbours who increasingly play an influential role in Pea’s life.
The landscape and the nature that King creates is evocative and creates an emotional response in the reader. The heady days of Summer in France, the bustling marketplace, the prickly neighbours all hinting back to an unspoken back story that is too tragic and heart-breaking for the ears of a little girl. This is a very clever device of King’s as the history of Pea and her Maman is dripped down to the reader through snatches of conversations and Pea’s interpretations and memories of her Mother’s actions.
This is a joyful little book despite the tragedies that seem to touch every character in different ways. I finished it feeling sad to be leaving the little French idyll where relationships could blossom in the most barren of soil. Pea’s imagination is excellent. I have already given my copy to a friend, so definitely one that I’m recommending.
8 out of 10 stars! ********
BUY ME! The Night Rainbow