three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
14-Jan-Feb-2005
user_rating: 
0

A-AstonishingSplashesKitty Wellington, a children’s book reviewer, lost her mother when she was three. Years later, she lost the child she was carrying and the ability to carry more. Now 32 and consumed with grief, she sees each of her tortured feelings as a color. Her father, her protective older brothers, and her neat-freak husband who, strangely enough, lives next door, are colors too. When these men fail to give her the help she needs, the childlike Kitty, in an attempt to find meaning in life, begins a desperate journey into her past—one she can only make alone.
HarperCollins. 322 pages. $23.95.
ISBN: 0060734450

San Francisco Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"And even in her at-times abominable, yet well-meaning, behavior ... Kitty remains intensely sympathetic, alluring and even seductive. … It is a full book, even as it addresses heavy spaces of pain and distance …"Christine Thomas

Observer 4 of 5 Stars
"… Morrall reveals her mystery artfully and convincingly, telling a story that is shocking, heart-stopping and completely absorbing." Ursula Kenny

Age 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The novel is skillfully balanced. … Its buoyant tone of voice is a guarantee that whatever may happen on her way home, Kitty will not be lost." Brenda Niall

Daily Telegraph 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Astonishing Splashes of Colour is an easy read, and full of surprises. It is winningly executed too." Tom Payne

The Guardian 3.5 of 5 Stars
"An affinity with the vulnerability of children and an eye for the comic rescue Kitty’s story from too much darkness." Rachel Hore

New Zealand Herald 3 of 5 Stars
"Unfortunately, what could have been an electrifying climax seemed contrived and left me unmoved. Instead, what made an impact on me was the exploration of the arbitrary verges between maturity and naivety, between sanity and madness." Philippa Jamieson

Critical Summary

Short-listed for the 2003 Booker Prize, Astonishing Splashes of Colour received wide praise in Britain. Its title is drawn from J.M. Barre’s Peter Pan ("Neverland is always more or less an island, with astonishing splashes of colour here and there") and is an appropriate reference as Kitty herself has regressed as a result of her sadness. "I don’t feel grown-up anymore," Kitty says. "…I seem to have gone backwards." One critic said it deserved to become a bestseller, several commended its unpredictability, and nearly all were moved by its original portrayal of grief. A few reviewers felt that the novel dragged in places, and one found its emphasis on setting tiresome. But detractors were a minority. By most accounts, the previously unknown Morrall richly deserves her newfound fame.