love in shades of grey
an unusual love story by Glynne MacLean


Waikato Times 12 June 2004

Facing the music with courage and tenacity

Love in Shades of Grey By Glynne McLean (Penguin $28).
Reviewed by Sue Edmonds.

Claire is a composer, for whom music flows through her head, demanding to be let out, written down. But on the day she finally receives a commission to write an opera, she is also told she is dying.

As she narrates her story, we find Claire lying in an Edinburgh hospital in a "vegetative state", unable to see, move or feel. Only her hearing remains, and the baby

growing steadily inside her.

The differing reactions of hospital staff to her state intersperse the recollections of an amazing two-year period. Her determination to complete her opera in the time she has left involves earning money the only way she can, by selling her body. But the contract which is offered her sees her involved in a strange relationship, on terms which can be difficult for Claire to keep to.

Despite her failing health and physical difficulties Claire does

complete her opera and its production and rehearsals. But then she finds herself to be the only one who can prove her successful businessman contract partner innocent of murder, a charge which his reticence means he is unwilling to disprove himself.

The progress of this odd rela-tionship, and the efforts which Claire has to make to come back to the world, make compelling reading. She will never have full health, but she will be able to live with the consequences of her deci-

sions and experiences, and that's not all bad.

Glynne McLean is a New Zealand writer. Her book moves from Wellington, to Melbourne, to Milan and finally to Edinburgh, as seen through the eyes of a woman whose determination to complete her task, whatever it takes, is brilliantly but calmly portrayed. We never feel sorry for Claire, we just admire her courage and tenacity. A book to read more than once.

Sue Edmonds is a Times columnist.



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