The author who disappeared

April 12, 2010 at 8:12 pm | Posted in Award Nominated, Great for Book Clubs, Middle Weight Fiction | 1 Comment

Clare Morrall ‘The Man Who Disappeared’ Sceptre, February 2010

In February 2003 I was blown away by Clare Morrall’s breakthrough novel ‘Astonishing Splashes of Colour’. It was a superbly crafted, subtle novel. It told the story of Kitty, a diminutive woman, who lives with a condition called synaesthesia through which she sees her emotions in colour. The mysteries of Kitty’s life, in this wonderful novel, explode in what the author was adept to rightly call astonishing splashes of colour. Seven years on in February 2010 I was sadly underwhelmed by Clare’s latest offering ‘The Man Who Disappeared’. The Man Who Disappeared’ is the story of Felix, a husband who abandons his good middle class family and over the course of an unfortunately mundane plot it is revealed he has disappeared due to his involvement in serious money laundering and is on the run from Interpol. There is nothing to hate or like about any of the characters who are diluted and spread bare over the length of the book. There are none of the simmering emotions Clare is renowned for portraying in her novels, no insights into human behaviour, well used language or wildly escalating scenarios as she has provided for us before. Had this novel been by another author who had not received such critical acclaim I would have enjoyed it for what it is; a good yarn and a well enough structured suspense thriller. But it is Clare Morrall’s legacy that overcasts this novel. Clare Morrall was writing novels for twenty years and had manuscripts rejected by almost every publishing house in Britain before a tiny publisher in Birmingham saw the depth of ‘Astonishing Splashes of Colour’ and published it for the then fifty-two year old author. That year ‘Astonishing Splashes of Colour’ was shortlisted for the Booker prize and Morrall took her place among other literary giants on the shortlist including Margaret Atwood, Monica Ali and D.B.C. Pierre (who went onto win the prize).  My admiration for Morall as an author is undiminished as is my admiration for her contribution to literary processes. Unlike Felix the fair-weather husband, I remain loyal, and look foreword to her future writing which I have no doubt will come.

Haiku; Dissapointment comes, in a novel with a red raincoat on the cover.

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  1. Thats a real shame, I loved Astonishing Splashes Of Colour. I must read the new one anyway and see if I agree with you

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