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The Colour Of Heaven (2015)

The Colour Of Heaven (2015)
Author
Rating
3.41 of 5 Votes: 1
ISBN
0007119879 (ISBN13: 9780007119875)
languge
English
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publisher
harpercollins publishers ltd
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The Colour Of Heaven (2015)
The Colour Of Heaven (2015)

About book: I like to paint & it's hard to imagine a world without ultramarine, which is made from lapis lazuli. So I was intrigued to read what I thought was a novelized version of the story of its introduction to Western art. The novel touches on a painting called Maestra by Simone Martini as among the first to use the color.What novel is actually involves is a meditation on enduring romantic love, death, and religious experience. Also, because it's about art & it also tells the story of how spectacles for the near sighted were introduced to the west, there's a lot of discussion about sight. I liked the book well enough to read it in one sitting. But I couldn't wholly suspend disbelief to enjoy the story as a story. Only three women figure in book: two Italians & woman from Afghanistan -- at the time of Marco Polo, we are to believe that all of them had love-based marriages of a sort that most 21st century Western women would envy: no beatings, no cheating. That seemed an ahistorical improbability.Similarly, much of novel involves a journey made by a skeptical Catholic, a Jew, & a Muslim, The Catholic is younger & respectfully observant of the older men's religions, & while in China, spends some time with a Buddhist monk. All very ecumenical & sweet, but also a bit improbable historically.

To tell the truth, I was taken by the cover. It made me think of 'Girl With a Pearl Earring', and then when colour seemed to be talked about in the book, and the art of paint making discussed, I was seduced into thinking that this book would reveal something to me about the world of colour and art, in the same way that 'Girl With a Pearl Earring' did. Unfortunately, not the case.I struggled to get through this book. There were, very few, moments of promise. Very rarely the main character, Paolo, came to life, as in learning to ride a camel:'There is no rhythm!' shouted Paolo. 'It's lurching.''Let him know you,' advised Salek. 'Be calm. Everyone is nervous at first. But in three days you will be able to place your fingers in his nostrils, look him in the eye, and establish your authority.''Walk on, walk on,' Paulo commanded, nervously.The animal turned, bit him in the leg and began to advance.Clearly the nostrils would have to wait.Usually, though, the story lurches, camel like, with dialogue like the following:'And why should I trust you?''Because I come in peace and do not travel for myself.'Aisha smiled sadly, 'You speak well.''I only speak the truth.'There are moments that make this book almost worth the effort, but not enough of them, in my opinion.
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Reviews
Shonaigh Mudie
It is the tale of Paolo, a young Italian boy during the rennaissance era. He is partially sighted but has a great talent for colour, mixing and blending to create new ones. At this time the great buildings and paintings of Italy were being forged. In the book he is finally able to see the world for what it is, when a pair of glasses are made for him. I wear glasses myself and liked the revelation in the book that he would take off his glasses to escape the real world. Paolo goes on a journey across the world to the Middle East and Asia. He meets many people on his quest to seek one particular and elusive colour ulramine the source of which is a stone called lapis lazuli- the colour of heaven. It becomes a journey of self discovery and an opening of his eyes to the variety and wonder within the places he travels. Other themes explored include romance. Runcie is a beautiful writer, he conjures up vivid beautiful images with his descriptions. It is an easy read, quite short and would be a perfect novel for a holiday read. Elements of history within are very interesting.
Cindy
Interesting story but not as well written as the Discovery of Chocolate. A bit more mystical. Through much of the book Runcie's paragraphs consist of long lists of whatever he is describing. I enjoy this but many would probably find it a boring technique. I like imagining all of the exotic things he describes.One quote I like from pg. 129 (e-book) "You cannot pray without doubt, love without fear, or live without the past. There is no such thing as a new life without an awareness of the past; cleanliness without forgiveness; redemption without the knowledge of sin."
Windy
A coming of age story about Paulo, a foundling brought up by a glass maker and his wife who as a teenager travels overland to the far east in search of Lapis Lazuli.I had hoped to learn a lot about history and the culture of the countries he passes through but sadly from that respect it was quite shallow. However it is still a lovely story, concentrating on the power of love and faith and how they help you deal with grief.I had meant this to be "China" in my Around the World challenge but only one chapter is set there so I'll have to get another idea I think.
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