Phil: I’ve just finished reading “The Night Rainbow” by Claire King. Not an obvious choice for me but it was passed to me with the suggestion I might find the voice it is written in interesting.
This is true – ish.
The story is written from 5 year old Pea’s point of view. She recalls, in the first person, her summer living in France. Mum is pregnant. Dad died in an accident a few months ago. She talks to her sister, Margot and adult friend Claude and his dog.
Now, I’ve never been a 5 year old girl and I’m not sure that this has helped my understand of what it would be like, even if I had wanted this.
Did I enjoy the book?
Not much. Until you get within 3 chapters of the end, nothing happens. Even when it does, I didn’t feel it was worth the wait. The run-up, about 180 pages is like eating candy floss. There’s something slightly sickly there but nothing of any substance. I didn’t even feel a great deal of curiosity about the ending.
By writing as a 5 year old, the author cleverly hides stuff and we only, gradually work out what is happening. There’s a bit of a twist but it annoyed rather than shocked me.
So, not a good book then? Not according to me.
But, I am largely alone in my opinion. Checking out Amazon, I find it deep in 5 star reviews:
“I would be proud to have written this book, and feel much richer for having read it.”
“Beautiful and emotive story”
“Brilliant, just brilliant……”
So am I an uncaring idiot?
Quite possibly, but I suspect it’s just not my kind of thing. Everyone is different and so we all like different books. I might not have liked this one but lots of people really did and that can only be a good thing.
This is what I tell myself anyway as I look at our book with a view to trimming down part of the final scene.
Apparently it goes on a little too long and the reader got a bit confused reading it.
No problem I think, maybe we love it so much we’ve been a little indulgent. Perhaps a little fat trimmed away will improve the read even more.
But when I start, I have a problem. I love the scene. I love every bit of it. Trim anything significant away and you have to ditch the entire scene. That then screws up the story around it and (IMHO) doesn’t provide closure on one of the story strands. Take it out and we end with a whimper, not a bang. And everyone loves to end with a big bang don’t they?
So, I’m going to gamble that if I can’t love a book that so many other can, then the reverse is true about part of our book. After all, we all like different things don’t we?
3 responses to “Opinions differ”
Don’t believe everything you read on Amazon, on-line, in the newspapers, from friends…….I’ve no idea where you can go for an unbiased review of books, films, music or TV programmes. I can only judge a book by it’s cover and the synopsis. The good thing about amazon is that you read a few pages that can give you a flavor of the story.
I mainly buy books back in the UK on two for one offers, at a charity shop (The Girl Who.. series in hardback for £3!) or a local bookshop, again by reading the blurb on the back or if it is by a famous author or a prize winner. So difficult.
You did gain insight for your own book from reading this one, so it wasn’t a total loss reading “The Night Rainbow.” We aren’t all driven by the same interests or the same writing styles, nor do we see the world in the same way, so why be surprised you didn’t like a book the same way others did. Any why be surprised someone dislikes the ending of your book when you like it best as is, for your very own good reasons? Being overly vested in your own work is a blind-spot for writers, but letting it rest for a short while and then reading over that last part again might settle the question. I find sleeping on the question wise. Sometimes I realize I was wrong and change something vexing me – other times I realize I was right all along and do a more reasonable rewrite.
Alan – I agree it’s easy to get a blind spot over your book but we’ve been tinkering with the ending for some time including going away and coming back to it for a couple of years. It’s also a scene that has worked well with test readers and the style makes sense at this point in the book.
Other scenes, well they have a point about a couple of those and re-writes are taking place.