Books: “Astonishing Splashes of Color” by Clare Morrell
If you bumped into Kitty Wellington on the street, you’d ask yourself, “what’s going on with this woman?” She seems eerily out of it, hanging around schoolyards as classes let out and riding the city bus of Birmingham, UK from one end of town to the other, then back again.
Kitty, the protagonist of Clare Morrell’s “Astonishing Splashes of Color” is in a perpetual funk. She gave birth to a stillborn baby and is haunted by the child’s death. She’s the little sister to five odd brothers who treat her with kid gloves. She is married but her husband is so different in character, he lives next door in a flat of his own.
Nothing is quite kosher with this family. The father of this eccentric brood is an eccentric painter, and the mother disappeared years ago and may be dead. Kitty becomes determined to find out who and where her mother is, and opens a Pandora’s box that leads to tragedy.
This quiet first novel, short listed for the Man Booker in 2003, is pitch-perfect about families, and in particular about children who grow up without mothers. And lest you think this sounds too blah and a bit weird, there’s a stunning cinematic climax. No more will be said, except a reminder to get your hands on a copy of ASOC forthwith. Without giving away too much, I predict you’ll read it like a house on fire.