A Corner of White – Jaclyn Moriarty

ebe1bf79fde1bcf596779746751444341587343I read this back in March, right before my life fell apart, and fortunately wrote most of the below at the time. I’m finally playing catch-up now, so: 

I swore I wouldn’t request any more books from Netgalley for a while, and I had a lot in queue in front of this book – but I couldn’t help it. Having finished something wonderful (a Dorothy L. Sayers), I sifted through all the books that have been sitting neglected on the Kindle, and opened something new from Netgalley instead.

I don’t know how much sense this will make, but for some reason A Corner of White felt like a book written in the present tense. It’s not; there’s nothing so gimmicky about the writing: alternating third person points of view, switching back and forth between Madeleine here in the World (in Cambridge, England) and Elliott in Cello, a different world altogether. Maybe it was the immediacy of the writing that felt like present-tense, or the first lines, chatty as they are: “Madeleine Tully turned fourteen yesterday, but today she did not turn anything.

“Oh, wait. She turned a page.”

It’s a swiftly flowing story, about Madeleine finding a note tucked into an out-of-order parking meter (and a good thing too that the London traffic department is in this universe so lax about fixing out-of-order meters), and replying, and of her reply being found on the other side of a crack between worlds by Elliott Baranski, in the back of a broken tv which has been incorporated into a sculpture. It makes sense, trust me. It’s all about perception – Madeleine’s perception of Elliott, and vice versa, and also how both of them see their own worlds and their own lives. Both their fathers are missing from their lives, and the reasons for that which everyone around them keeps assuring them are true may not be correct.

One of the only things keeping me from a five-star rating for A Corner of White is a huge gaffe that I can only hope was/will be caught in a final edit before publication. The small stuff – botched punctuation and formatting and such – is, as has often been said, par for the course, and this was after all an “uncorrected proof”, so lamentable as it is it doesn’t count toward the rating. But the mention – a couple of times – of the “original” colors consisting of red, blue, and green … That was not good. Primary and secondary and complementary colors are something I learned about in my first months of art school. That is, I’m sure I knew the basics before that, but it was well and truly drilled into our heads early on, being, I think it’s obvious, rather important. Since green is made of blue and yellow …

A useful trick to remembering complementary colors was to think of them as holidays – red and green, Christmas; blue and orange, Halloween (blue standing in for black to make it work), and (vitally, for Elliott) yellow and purple, Easter. Just putting that out there.

Apart from that, it was wonderfully enjoyable. And they’ll fix that, right? Right?

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