The Night Rainbow is the story of a little girl named Pea, the world she creates to win back her mother’s love, and the stranger she trusts to save them both.
It is summer in the south of France, and Pea and her little sister Margot spend their days running free and inventing games in the meadow behind their house. But Pea is burdened with 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, isolated in this small, foreign village, and in her sadness has retreated even further. Pea tries her best to help, makes Margot behave, brings home yellow flowers, but she can’t make Maman happy again. When Pea meets Claude, a man with a dog who seems to love the meadow as she does, she 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? 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 and truth.
“A powerful debut about grief and salvation, told from the perspective of one little girl with a valiant imagination.”
“For anyone who loved When God Was A Rabbit, The Earth Hums in B-Flat and Eve Green”
“A beautiful and beguiling debut.”
“Perfect for reading groups.” Description from Goodreads
This is an altogether beautifully written and well crafted story that will stay with you long after you have finished reading it. I was captivated by this novel from the first page, and the feeling that I was looking in a window at a world that is slightly magical and only for my eyes lingers, although I have finished turning the pages.
While this book is sorrowful and very real at times, it is also a story about faith, redemption and the enduring imagination and easy belief of a child. Written from the point of view of Pea, a five year old little girl in a french village (beautiful setting by the way) who has lost her father in an accident and is day by day losing her mother to grief and sorrow, this book evokes the kind of emotion that most can’t accomplish.
On a mission to cheer up her mother and try to return their family to somewhat normal, Pea and her sister Margot escape daily life by going to play in the fields and the peach orchards. They are able to make a new friend there, which in turn becomes another complex plot point.
When things don’t cheer their mother as they had hoped the girls must face the reality of their situation, but they are resilient, as children are. The author takes the opportunity to create an amazing happening from this point in the book forward. She is able to truly show the limitless bounds of a child’s imagination, the optimism, the spirit and capture the innocence of her main characters.
This book made me long to be a child again in many ways. I recall having some of the same thoughts and emotions as Pea and her sister. My favorite part of this book was the friendship amongst the two sisters. If you have ever read a book and later wondered where the characters are right now and then stopped to chastise yourself for your own silliness and to remind yourself that it was fiction, you will understand what happened to me after finishing this. Claire King has done such a supreme job of making you want to hug these children and tell them everything is going to be okay, that it is sometimes hard to believe they are not real.
The only thing I can see that might make this a challenge for some, is adjusting to the way the child speaks. She sometimes leaves sentences hanging and it can be a little complex to grasp her meaning. I personally, thought it added to the story and made the age of the character more believable.
I would recommend this elegantly written novel to anyone. Really a beautiful book.
This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher.