The aftermath of catastrophe forms the backdrop of Claire King's debut novel, The Night Rainbow. In a village in southern France, five-year-old Pea's pregnant mother, already reeling from the loss of an earlier baby, is grieving the recent loss of her husband. Pea and her younger sister, Margot, alternate between trying to hold the house together and playing games for hours in the nearby meadow. There they meet Claude, a neighbor with a mysterious past.
Told entirely from Pea's perspective, The Night Rainbow is dominated by her imaginative and precocious voice--and limited by her narrow understanding of events. This approach compels the reader to work to understand the story, especially as it gradually becomes clear that Pea's presentation is severely distorted--both by her age and by her own grief. Pea constantly describes a "darkness" filling her, which the reader can recognize as her feelings of abandonment and need for attentive parenting. It is this need that draws Pea to Claude, whom she seeks to make her new Papa.
The children's powerful imagination and cleverness define the narrative, as in Margot's description of death: "Then you stop talking and then you are a skeleton and then there is a big party with sandwiches, but not as much cake as at Christmas."
King's story of a young child's quest for a light in the profound darkness of her life reaches deep into the complexities of human consciousness. --Ilana Teitelbaum, book reviewer at the Huffington Post