Blog Tours book reviews

The Colours by Juliet Bates


Published: April 9th, 2020
Publisher: Fleet
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction, War Story, Coming-of-Age Story

Today I’m thrilled to be opening the blog tour for this beautiful novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Fleet for the gifted copy of the book .


Ellen sees the world differently from everyone else, but living in a tiny town in the north-east of England, in a world on the cusp of war, no one has time for an orphaned girl who seems a little strange. When she is taken in to look after a rich, elderly widow all seems to be going better, despite the musty curtains and her aging employer completely out of touch with the world. But pregnancy out of wedlock spoils all this, and Ellen is unable to cope. How will Jack, her son, survive – alone in the world as his mother was? Can they eventually find their way back to each other?

The Colours is a sweeping novel of how we can lose ourselves, and our loved ones, for fans of Kate Atkinson and Virginia Baily.


Told through the eyes of Ellen and her son Jack, the narrative of this beautifully written novel moves between timelines and points of view to tell the story of one family over the course of almost seventy years.

The Pearson family goes through a lot in this book. Loss, abandonment and mental illness are addressed in an authentic and heart-rending manner and we see Ellen and Jack both go through life-changing trauma at a young age – Ellen becoming an orphan and being sent to a convent and Jack being left with a stepfather he doesn’t get on with after his mother is sent to an asylum – and see the ripple effect of these issues. The reminder of how stigmatised and poorly treated mental illness stood out in particular to me and left me feeling very thankful for the advancements that have been made, however imperfect they may be.

As well as being the title of the book, colour is a theme that runs through the heart of this novel. Ellen has synesthesia, which means everything she sees and hears has a colour, while Jack is an artist, which combined with the lyrical and descriptive prose make this an evocative read which enables you to see the world through the narrators’ eyes.

I enjoyed this novel but did find it felt a bit slow at times. I think that part of this was because I found Ellen to be a more engaging character who I instantly connected with, while I struggled to connect with Jack. It picked up about half way through and I was enjoying his sections more.

Wonderfully written and elegant, The Colours is a moving story about family, loss and healing.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✫

Juliet Bates


Juliet Bates studied art and art history in Bristol, Birmingham and Strasbourg, and has since lectured at graduate and post graduate levels. She moved to France in 2000 to a post as professeur at the Ecole régionale des beaux-arts Caen la mer. She has published a number of short stories in British and Canadian literary journals.



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FINAL Colours BT Poster