Finished May 27
The Night Rainbow by Claire King
This enchanting novel lets us into the world of Pea, short for Peony, a girl who is five-and-a-half and dealing with a world that has changed for her. Her papa has died in an accident, and her mother, who is pregnant has retreated into her sadness. Pea spends the day roaming from the farmhouse she lives in down to the lower meadow which is across the stream and past the donkeys, or up to the windy hill, where the windmills turn and she can see the far away sea. She and her younger sister Margot, four, try to do things to bring back mother's smile, but can's seem to get it right.
Pea's mother was pregnant before, but when she went to the hospital she came home without the baby and she was sad. Pea is hoping that this baby will make her happy again.
When Pea meets an older man, Claude, and his dog Merlin, she thinks she might have found a friend, or maybe even a new papa to do the things her old papa used to do like give hugs and fix leaks. But Claude is a lonely a quiet man with secrets of his own. When people see him with Pea they don't seem to like it and Pea wonders why.
Margot seems wise beyond her years, comforting Pea when she is scared, cheering her up when she is sad, and helping her find the right thing to say to her mother.
I've read a few novels that are from a young child's point of view and each one's voice is unique, but they all seem to capture the combination of innocence and knowledge, of wonder and pleasure in simple things that we often lose as we grow up. Pea's voice is sometimes an uncertain one, but that is because her world is a bit uncertain at present.
The story takes place in France, and Pea's mother is English and that foreignness along with her sorrow over her recent losses have distanced her from the others in the village. It is Pea's connection with those who live nearby that will also help reconnect Pea and her mother to each other.