Fire Colour One | Jenny Valentine | July 2015
Iris’s father, Ernest, is at the end of his life and she hasn’t even met him. Her best friend, Thurston, is somewhere on the other side of the world. Everything she thought she knew is up in flames.
Now her mother has declared war and means to get her hands on Ernest’s priceless art collection. But Ernest has other ideas. There are things he wants Iris to know after he’s gone. And the truth has more than one way of coming to light.
Fire Colour One was my first experience of a Jenny Valentine book, although I was of course are of her previous novels like Finding Violet Park and Broken Soup, and had heard only good things about them, so when I spotted this one available on Netgalley I decided to request a copy for my train journey down to YALC last weekend.
It’s a quick read and I easily finished it before we were pulling into Kings Cross. I wasn’t initially sure how to take Iris, our narrator in Fire Colour One, and her opinions on her life and past. I thought maybe there was a touch of the unreliable narrator about her. She freely admits to being a bit of a trouble-causer, and a pyromaniac, loving to watch things burn.
But no, it turns out her mother really is as self-centered as Iris portrays her, in fact I didn’t think I’d ever come across a bookish mother I’d dislike as much as the one in Tabitha Suzuma’s Forbidden. To be fair Iris’ mum isn’t quite in that league, but she comes as close as I’ve seen.
There’s a nice friendship that we see almost wholly in the past tense between Isis and Thurston, her best-friend from back in the states, and while the story deals with that, the main relationship of the story, is that between Iris and her father; a man she has not seen since her parents split and her mum ran and new step-dad ran to the States.
There are things Ernest wants to tell Iris, about him and their joint pasts; a history that isn’t all her mother has portrayed it as. It’s almost agonising that they only have such a short period of time (only a matter of days really) for them to reconnect and find each other again, and do it under the beady and selfish eyes of her mother.
I hope I haven’t given the impression that this is in any way a dark book, because in reality it is the exact opposite, it is a heart-warming and emotional read as bright as it’s cover, and with an ending that will have you punching the air in delight!
My copy of Fire Colour One by Jenny Valentine was provided by the Publisher via Netgalley for review purposes.