A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty is an expertly-crafted, genre-blending tale (mystery, realism, fantasy and mad-cap humor) of two stories that run parallel. In our world, near Cambridge, London, Madeline and her mother have run away from home under mysterious circumstances, while in the Kingdom of Cello, Elliot is searching for his father who also disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
Madeline, her mother and friends are eccentric characters. Madeline wears bright and frequently clashing colors to spice up what she calls her dull and much poorer life since they left her Dad. She and her friends are home schooled on topics and in a manner that is equally odd. For example, they study history by living as someone from the past. Thus begins, Madeline's fascination with Isaac Newton and her friend Jack's fascination with Lord Byron.
While in Elliot's world, the seasons come and go within days, sometimes hours. They are plagued by waves of color storms that effect their emotions and set the whole town on edge. One color may cause you to profess love while another to commit violence or yet another gives you an inexhaustible supply of energy to tend to all those chores you've been meaning to get done. It's a strange and whimsical place. There are rumors of a Butterfly Child who would could set the place to right.
Quite by happenstance, Elliot and Madeline begin communicating across worlds when Madeline finds a note stuck in a crack of a broken parking meter. She believes someone is writing a fantasy novel and communicates back giving him advice on how to improve his novel. Elliot however, is aware of "the world," Madeline's world. It is a crime in Cello to communicate with it. All cracks are to be reported and immediately sealed.
This was a delightful, well-written book. I picked it up because of the praise on the back cover by another author I enjoy, Deborah Harkness: "A marvelous novel - in every sense of the word - with all the qualities of a literary classic. Just like the letters exchanged between the main characters, A Corner of White, slips through the previously unnoticed crack in the reader's heart and changes everything."
I'm so glad I read it. It will appeal to both fans of realistic fiction that want to spice things up with a little fantasy as well as fantasy lovers who may want to try something grounded with a little realism.