All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: True Colours by Kristin Hannah

on January 16, 2017

true-coloursTrue Colours
Kristin Hannah
Pan Macmillan
2017 (originally 2009), 393p
Copy courtesy Pan Macmillan AUS

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

The Grey sisters have always looked after one another. Growing up on a sprawling ranch with an emotionally distant father, they had nowhere else to turn after their mother died.

Winona, the oldest, craves her father’s approval. Happier reading a book than riding a horse, she knows she isn’t the daughter he wanted – but she’s determined to prove her worth. Aurora is the peacemaker, trying to keep everyone happy, whilst hiding her own feelings. Vivi Ann, the youngest, is the star of the family. Beautiful and spirited, everything comes easily to her – until a stranger comes to town.

When Vivi Ann makes a fateful decision to follow her heart, everything changes. Suddenly the sisters are pitted against each other. Loyalties are tested, secrets revealed – and then a terrible crime threatens to tear their whole community apart.

Compelling and provocative, True Colours by Kristin Hannah is an unforgettable novel about jealousy, betrayal, passion and forgiveness – and what it means to be a family.

This is actually the first Kristin Hannah novel I’ve ever read, although I’ve seen and heard a lot about her books, particularly The Nightingale so I jumped at the chance to read this one. It certainly went a few directions that were quite different to what I expected and I had some mixed feelings.

The first maybe half to two thirds of the book feels very slow and very much a long “set up”. A lot of it is Winona, the eldest sister, being terribly jealous of Vivi Ann, the youngest sister. Winona is overweight and lacks an affinity with horses, which means that she never really gained approval from her rancher and farrier father. Even as a child, Winona felt excluded from his affection, most of which seemed to be given to Vivi Ann, who was fearless with the horses and has a real bond with most of them. Vivi Ann is also beautiful and even though Winona has built a successful career as a lawyer and is in a secure financial position, she lacks the things she desires the most: her father’s approval and the love of a man. Things are made even worse when her high school crush moves back to town and immediately falls in love with Vivi Ann.

There’s a middle sister, Aurora but her presence is ghostly. She has almost zero personality and her sole reason for existing seems to be an attempt to keep the peace between Winona and Vivi Ann, a job that grows more difficult with each passing year. Winona’s jealousy increases terribly and she does and says some pretty awful things. And for her own faults, Vivi Ann is clueless. She coasts through life, not really realising how her actions affect other people, or how people see things differently to her. Even when things go wrong for Vivi Ann, she almost always ends up coming out of it better than when she went in…..until the one thing that she cannot fix happens.

The last third of the book is where it really shines. The story suddenly gets a lot meatier, with real depth to it and becomes less about sisters bickering and more about trying to mend a broken family. Winona has said and done some terrible things, believed some even worse things (falsely) about someone. But when she suddenly realises that she can possibly help her sister out in some way, she really does go above and beyond. In many ways she does owe Vivi Ann, even though her wrongs ended up setting Vivi Ann on a better path.

This latter part of the book also really focuses on Noah, who is probably the most interesting character of all. I didn’t always enjoy Noah’s narrative – he’s a sulky, angry teenager after all, but I did feel that it was really well done. I felt his anger, his frustration and his pain regarding the hole in his life. Poor Noah, he had a lot of questions but it takes him an awful long time to get any answers. I became really invested in the story through Noah, wanting him to be able to get the answers and the interaction that he needed. I felt frustrated towards Vivi Ann at times, for some of the choices she made and how they affected Noah.

Overall, I did really enjoy this book, but that was because the last third was so good. It felt almost like a different story it stepped up so far. The sisters, (well, Winona and Vivi Ann only, Aurora is still a nothing character who doesn’t get to really take part in the story as anything other than a mediator. Everything interesting that happens to her, happens off page) suddenly become that much more complex and I felt I could finally understand Winona’s actions, whereas in the past everything she’d done in the book had alienated me. I felt that finally there was some form of Vivi Ann understanding how her actions had affected those around her, rather than just not noticing or having the time for it. She also came to understand just how cruel a person her father could be, having previously dismissed Winona’s (and to a lesser extent, Aurora) thoughts on him, because Vivi Ann had always been the daughter that could do no wrong. She finally saw the side of him that her sisters saw and realised how much she had never noticed. However I can’t deny that the first part of the book seemed to drag on for a long time and quite often, I found my interest waning. I’m glad I didn’t end up putting it down because when it was good, it was really good, but I did come close on a couple of occasions. I’d definitely read more Kristin Hannah in the future though, I would really like to get to The Nightingale one day.


Book #2 of 2017



3 responses to “Review: True Colours by Kristin Hannah

  1. Paula Vince says:

    Hi, it’s lovely to stumble across a fellow Aussie book reviewer at the start of the year. I like the scope of your reviews, and the fact that you give away just enough to make us curious. I’m sure I’ll visit again.

  2. Marg says:

    I feel as though Kristin Hannah is an author I should love. But i’ve never actually tried her!

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