From Publishers Weekly
Like Booker-winner Monica Ali, British newcomer and Booker finalist Morrall creates an alienated yet immensely appealing heroine. But unlike Ali's protagonist, Kitty Wellington is at home in Britain's culture; it's her spectacularly dysfunctional family and a personal tragedy that bring her grief. Dangerously unstable after a miscarriage and her resulting inability to conceive again, Kitty sees other people and her environment in auras of color. A device brilliantly effective at times, this serves to establish Kitty's febrile, fantastical imagination. For three years, Kitty has lived in a flat next door to her loving, ineffectual husband, whose own problems (a limp; an obsession with order; a fear of unfamiliar places) render him similarly incapable of dealing with the world. But Morrall gradually reveals the real cause of Kitty's anguish: her lack of identity. Brought up helter-skelter by her irascible, eccentric artist father and four older brothers, Kitty has no memory of her mother, who died when she was three. Even in her most depressed moments, however, Kitty has wit and intelligence, even as her childlike impulsiveness and failure to foresee the consequences of her acts lead her to initiate a double kidnapping. Morrall artfully reveals the true story of Kitty's family in a suspenseful plot that unfolds like layers of an onion, meanwhile providing a convincing portrait of a woman striving for emotional survival.
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This début novel is narrated by Kitty, a childlike woman who lives next door to her husband, rides in circles for hours on the city bus, and sees the world as a kaleidoscope of vivid colors. She is obsessed by the loss of the mother and sister she never knew, and of the baby she miscarried. Morrall deftly charts how Kitty's harmless eccentricity turns to sinister fixation as she loiters outside elementary schools, suffers disconcerting lapses of memory, and sinks deeper into despair. Some rather hackneyed plot twists notwithstanding, Kitty's voice, by turns bewildered, selfish, and angry, and leavened by a dry wit, carries the book; she observes of her elder brother, a pompous novelist who ignored her as a child, "He'll regret it one day, when his biographer interviews me about his early life. I shall be entirely truthful."
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker