Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty discussion

Earlier this week, I shared a Q and A with author Jaclyn Moriarty. Today, I am pleased to be sharing a conversation that I had about A Corner of White, the first book in the Colours of Madeleine trilogy.
This is the second part of the conversation between myself and Shelleyrae from Book'd Out. You can read the first part of the conversation over at Shelleyrae's blog and she also has a chance for Australian readers to win a copy of the book.


Most of what we learn about Cello comes from the Princess’s letters during their tour of the Kingdom, what did you think of these missives?

Marg: At first I wasn’t that sure about the role that they were going to play in the story. Were they there to inject some humour, especially in the early parts of the book where the Kingdom of Cello seemed like a kind of dour place? Was there a purpose to including them, and if so what was it? It was fun to see the two princesses fairly fanciful descriptions of the people and places they met and the somewhat patient corrections from the editor.

The Sheriff of Bonfire was really keen to get the princesses to visit the town, mainly to show the rest of the Kingdom of Cello that there was more to the Farms than just deftball (the very popular sport in which Bonfire was about to play in the finals), which I must admit sounded like it could be fun. I wasn’t quite sure how a pyramid of pumpkins was going to achieve that initially!

Without giving too much away, I loved the way that this particular aspect of the story came together at the end! The ending really saved this book for me, but I am sure we will get back to that in due course.

For me the crux of the book really came in the letters between Elliot and Madeleine though. I loved the imaginative way that Moriarty was able to develop the connection between the two worlds and between the two main characters. One of the things that became clear is that while noone in Madeleine’s world knew anything about the Kingdom of Cello, the reverse was not true.

Why do you think the people in the Kingdom of Cello knew about our world, but not the other way around, and why was the punishment for being in contact with our world so drastic?

: I also loved the idea of a letter being passed between a parking meter and a sculpture. Elliot writes of it being more than 300 years since a crack has appeared that is large enough for a person to slip through and that any cracks are quickly repaired, though of course we later learn that may not be entirely true.

I can only guess that the separation between the Kingdom of Cello and the World came about as magic was crowded out of industrialised society, which is a common fantasy trope, and with that theory, I assume the barrier between worlds is a magical, rather than natural, construct which the Kingdom of Cello maintains. Therefore while the World has forgotten Cello, the Kingdom is forever reminded about the World.

I would assume that travel between the Kingdom of Cello and the World would be problematic for both societies for any number of reasons, I can’t imagine what a Cambridge scholar would make of being attacked by a vicious swathe of lemon yellow for example. Allowing movement from Cello into the World would especially endanger the Kingdom, hence the harsh punishment.

However with no real clues it is all speculation on my part and Moriarty may well later reveal a completely different reason for the division.

Was there any particular aspect that we haven’t touched on yet that you really liked?

Marg; One of the things that I did enjoy about the story was the fact that Moriarty had Madeleine and her friends learning about historical figures like Lord Byron and Isaac Newton and then incorporated that learning into the story.

Shelleyrae: I thought that was a fun aspect of the story as well, particularly when that information is put to good use by Elliot in Cello. I also liked the storyline involving the Twickleham’s as I was surprised by the way in which it played out.

What did you think of the way in which A Corner of White ended, do you have any expectations for what will happen next?

Marg: To be honest, the ending saved this book for me. As we have touched on before the concepts in the book were at time difficult to follow. I was liking the story lines. I found the two worlds interesting, I loved the way that the two worlds were interconnecting but it took a lot longer for me to read than I would normally have expected for a book this size.

Then we got to the last couple of chapters where there was a big reveal (obviously not going to spoil) and I was left thinking but I want the next book now! I want to know what happens next with the royal family, and with Elliot. I want to know if he and Madeleine will get to meet and what happens if they do! I wanted more!

How did you find the ending?

Shelleyrae: Like you I was left wanting more by the promise of some exciting adventures that perhaps Madeleine and Elliot will be able to share. I’m eager to explore more of Cello and it’s quirky environment too and I’m hoping for a few answers to the ambiguities in A Corner of White.

In one sentence provide a jacket quote for A Corner of White.

Shelleyrae: "Imaginative, original and Colourful, A Corner of White is a magical story that leaves "a trail of light" for the reader to follow.."

Marg: Oh no! An in 25 words or less question!

How about “In a world of colour, A Corner of White invites the reader on a fun, imaginative and intriguing journey”


She knew this.
That philematology is the science of kissing.
That Samuel Langhorne Clemens is better
known as Mark Twain.
That, originally, gold comes from the stars.

Madeleine Tully lives in Cambridge, England, the World – a city of spires, Isaac Newton and Auntie's Tea Shop.

Elliot Baranski lives in Bonfire, the Farms, the Kingdom of Cello – where seasons roam, the Butterfly Child sleeps in a glass jar, and bells warn of attacks from dangerous Colours.

They are worlds apart – until a crack opens up between them; a corner of white – the slim seam
of a letter.

Elliot begins to write to Madeleine, the Girl-in-the-World – a most dangerous thing to do for suspected cracks must be reported and closed. But Elliot's father has disappeared and Madeleine's mother is sick.

Can a stranger from another world help to unravel the mysteries in your own? Can Madeleine and Elliot find the missing pieces of themselves before it is too late?

A mesmerising story of two worlds; the cracks between them, the science that binds them and the colours that infuse them.

This book was read for the following challenges:


  1. This is already on my wishlist but I'm completely intrigued by both your thoughts ... heading off to check out the rest of your posts.
    I liked your jacket quote Marg :)

    1. Thanks Sheree! I refuse to enter competitions that have 25 words or less questions!

  2. Thanks for the discussion Marg - I appreciated the chance to discuss such an unusual novel!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  3. I love joint reviews, and have done some really fun ones. I think they enhance the experience of reading a book. It looks like you two really had a lot of interesting things to discus with this one. Good job to both of you!!

  4. Fantastic discussion ladies! I too loved the letters between Madeleine and Elliot, i laughed out loud at times. The colours were confusing at times and normally these world-building aspects would put me off a fantasy story but the characters really drew me in. The ending definitely left me wanting more!