A Corner of White: The Colours of Madeleine Book 1

Jaclyn Moriarty

A Corner of White: The Colours of Madeleine Book 1
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A Corner of White: The Colours of Madeleine Book 1

Jaclyn Moriarty

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.


Already a star of Australian YA Fiction and with a voice so original you’d spot it even without her name on the cover, Jaclyn Moriarty is both branching out of and staying put within her old genre. The first in a new series, A Corner of White defies category but for her existing fans it’s purely and intensely Moriarty.

Teenage Madeleine is uprooted from a glamorous life to Cambridge, England. She’s an enigma to the two friends she’s homeschooled with and distant from a mother who obsesses over a television quiz show. A crack in a parking meter, revealing a corner of white paper, launches us into a story told partly in epistolary form.

Madeleine’s correspondent is Elliot from Bonfire, a struggling farm town in the Kingdom of Cello, which becomes almost more real than Madeleine’s world (this despite the fact that death in Cello is caused by tornado-like Colours, and their belief that a miniscule girl in a jar will revive their crops).

Moriarty’s trademark letter-writing style works well here. Quiet, head-in-the-clouds Madeleine becomes forthright and occasionally brattish on paper. That side is foiled by Elliot’s gentlemanly patience but we’re well aware of his private turmoil. Focussing on the lives of teenagers in her unique, comical way fulfils Moriarty’s duties as a YA favourite but I connected more with A Corner of White as an adult. Displacement, self-deception and reinvention were at the forefront of my mind but it’s deliciously open to interpretation.

Whimsical, baffling but always engaging, A Corner of White is like going on a journey while someone whispers cryptic directions in your ear. You have to trust Moriarty, she knows where she’s going. Once publishing has got you where it wants you, it can be difficult to try something new. Moriarty succeeds in blending the qualities expected of her with a broader scope.

Emily Gale is a Children’s & YA Specialist at Readings Carlton, and a Children’s & YA writer the rest of the time. Her other title is ‘Mum’, or more accurately ‘Muuuuuuuuum!’

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