An atmospheric, sweeping novel about the bond between mother and son, spanning nearly seventy years and set against the backdrop of the first and second world war.
'A carefully crafted, totally engaging epic family drama' Yorkshire Post
'Delightful' Daily Mail
Da said the Pearson family came out of the sand. He said they were born out of the red clarty sand that stuck to the soles of boots and the hems of frocks.
You couldn't just brush the sand away, you had to beat your clothes with the palm of your hand like you were smacking them for being naughty. You had to bang your boots against the doorstep and find a knife to gouge away the sand that clung to the heels and round the stitching.
Ellen has a unique view of the world 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 odd. When she is taken in to look after a rich, elderly widow things seem to be get better, despite musty curtains and an 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.
There is a delightful observational delicacy to [Juliet Bates'] prose, a careful cataloguing of the everchanging shades of the waves and the vivid red of the 'clarty' sand of Teesby, where the novel is set. It's a quality that perfectly befits the two main characters . . . Theirs is a story of illness, estrangement and misunderstanding - Daily Mail
This gently-paced, carefully crafted, totally engaging epic family drama spans nearly seventy years and takes in some of the major events of the 20th century . . . Bates explores the complex mother-son relationship at the centre of the novel with great sensitivity and empathy. The misunderstandings, the sense of loss and longing and the absence which haunts both their lives, are very convincingly and poignantly portrayed. And it is all played out in the picturesque landscape of the North Yorkshire coast, described by Bates in lyrical and affectionate detail - Yorkshire Post
The Colours is a sweeping family drama covering a span of several decades of the 20th century from just before the First World War right up to the Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981. The imagery and descriptions in the novel are striking, closely observed and beautifully wrought - Yorkshire Post