Books written from a child’s point of view can go horribly wrong. The innocent, yet wise, thoughts of a child can be hard to capture. Which is why The Night Rainbow is such a good book. It captures not only the world of a child, but also the world of adults and how they affect those who are too young to understand.
This hauntingly beautiful novel is set in France, 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?
The Night Rainbow is one of those great, rare novels that really capture life, humans and emotions. It also shows up the flaws of adults, how they can jump to conclusions and not be there for each other, and how they can let their own grief and problems stop them looking after children. The novel also encapsulates grief perfectly.
This is the first novel from Claire King and lets hope it is not her first. Even her descriptions of food and insects are touching and wonderful. This is a spectacular first novel and one you won’t be able to put down.