The Woman Who Heard Color by Kelly Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
(This isn't an SF/F book, but I thought it would be of interest to genre readers, too.)
When art detective Lauren O'Farrell enters the home of Isabella Fletcher, she hopes to tease out information about her mother's activities as an art dealer in Nazi Germany, but she finds herself drawn into a much deeper story.
The novel is primarily from the point of view of Hanna, but includes chapters from Lauren's point of view as Isabella tells the story as she knows it ... and early on, the reader sees hints that are parts of the story, sometimes huge parts, that Isabella never learned. This becomes important as the novel develops.
And Hanna has an unusual attribute: she hears colors (and also sees sounds - as someone who has been studying synesthesia, it's worth noting that bi-directional versions are *very* rare). This helps to foster her lifelong love of art, something which carries her deep into the web of Hitler's attempts to cleanse the art world.
It's a disturbing, often intense journey with some great personal moments, snapshots of Hanna's life. But because it is a life story, much of the tale is summarized, and some of the events that were glossed over, I thought lessened the impact - including huge ones like the birth of a child. Her husband's proposal is even told in flashback. Obviously, there's no way the story could include everything, or the book would be twice as long (as it's already pretty hefty). But I don't really agree with all of Jones' choices for tradeoffs.
Another disappointment is for a book about art, from the point of view of someone with unusual perceptions, the text is very prosaic. I expected the prose itself to be more artistic. It's solid, but with few flourishes. The style doesn't match the subject matter.
That said, I thought it was an enjoyable read. The character of Lauren isn't particularly complex, but she's interesting enough to sympathize with. The novel has a strong arc rife with conflicts, and the conclusion is satisfying. Recommended.
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