When I finished Fire Colour One, I was all set to give it a 4.5 star review. But since finishing it yesterday evening I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. Like, not at all. I'm still all feels-y, even now, sitting at work, writing this review. So for that reason I've bumped it up to a five.
The title, Fire Colour One, actually refers to the Yves Klein painting FC1, which is an amazing piece, but the book is actually about a girl, Iris. Iris lives with her disinterested mother, Hannah, and stepfather in America until Hannah announces one day that they are returning to England to see Iris's father, Ernest, who is dying. Hannah is desperate to get her hands on Ernest's art collection and to her Ernest is still alive when they get to England. Gradually, Iris and Ernest start to bond and Iris hears Ernest's side of the story.
This book was just beautiful. Ugh, I'm going to get all gushy now, but bear with me.
Fire Colour One doesn't have a whole lot of plot going on, and for a car-chases-and-casinos kind of girl like me, this would usually be a turn-off. Also, a lot of the plot is told as back story. Again, not something that generally works. Except here it does. It really, really does. It's a beautifully written story about relationships and how and why they go wrong and how we can mend them. The scenes with Iris and Ernest almost had me in tears, they were so touching and poignant.
Considering it's a fairly short book, the author builds the characters really well. Iris is a pyromaniac. Like, an actual pyromaniac who loves setting fires and watching stuff burn. She's also troubled and neglected and insecure. Ernest is a very sweet character and I felt so sorry for him by the end, and Iris's mum and stepdad come across as a pound-shop Brangelina.
As well as Iris's relationship with Ernest, the book also explores her relationship with her best friend, Thurston, who she's recently fallen out with on a fairly epic scale. The relationship between Iris and Thurston is kind of ambiguous. They'd been friends for years and I spent a while trying to work out whether they were just friends or if there was anything more going on. The L-word gets mentioned, but was it a platonic L-word, or a romantic L-word? I couldn't tell and actually it was quite nice to be kept wondering and I was glad we didn't have loads of corset-heaving, tortured glances because I think it would have overshadowed the main point of the book, which was Iris and Ernest's relationship.
As for the denouement...it is superb. Absolutely superb. I won't say anything specific about it because I don't do spoilers, but it was good enough to keep me up reading way past my bedtime.