Inspired by the lost voices of the Romany Holocaust this heartbreaking and tender novel will appeal to readers who loved Sophie's Choice, Schindler's Ark and The Book Thief.
Austria, 1944. Jakob, a gypsy boy - half Roma, half Yenish - runs, as he has been told to do. With shoes of sack cloth, still bloodstained with another's blood, a stone clutched in one hand, a small wooden box in the other. He runs blindly, full of fear, empty of hope. For hope lies behind him in a green field with a tree that stands shaped like a Y.
He knows how to read the land, the sky. When to seek shelter, when not. He has grown up directing himself with the wind and the shadows. They are familiar to him. It is the loneliness that is not. He has never, until this time, been so alone.
'Don't be afraid, Jakob,' his father has told him, his voice weak and wavering. 'See the colours, my boy,' he has whispered. So he does. Rusted ochre from a mossy bough. Steely white from the sap of the youngest tree. On and on, Jakob runs.
Spanning from one world war to another, taking us across England, Switzerland and Austria, Jakob's Colours is about the painful legacies passed down from one generation to another, finding hope where there is no hope and colour where there is no colour.
Lindsay Hawdon is a writer of travel, adventure and fiction. On leaving school, she spent three years travelling around Europe, Africa and India, hitching rides and sleeping under canvas. She has since travelled to over sixty countries and writes regularly for The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, the Australian and the LA Times. Her travel column 'An Englishwoman Abroad' ran in the Sunday Telegraph in 2000 and ran for seven years. Her articles for the Sunday Times called 'Have Kids Will Travel' followed a year's trip travelling solo with her two young boys around South East Asia. She lives in Bath with her family.
I thought it was a remarkable book - brave, big-hearted, and beautifully written. Harrowing too, of course, at times almost unbearably so, but Lindsay Hawdon meets the material with such honesty and courage we, as readers, can stay with it without feeling crushed by it. It's a first novel that clearly announces the arrival of a very talented writer. — Andrew Miller, author of Costa award-winning PURE
A memorable debut ...There is a theme here that fits the complicated structure, about the stories we tell to spin hope from despair. The prose is poetic and on occasion luminously beautiful ... a powerful story. — The Times
The book's fairy tale tone, and its themes of hope and beauty are matched by Hawdon's poetic language. — Independent
As mesmerising as it is heartbreaking — The Times
A deeply involving tale, hazardous and harrowing, Hawdon has a fine eye for detail in description... [her] feel for the subject matter is instinctive ... a well realised and unquestionably admirable enterprise. ... she'll go far. — Guardian
There are moments of real beauty, and the central story is as mesmerising as it is heartbreaking. — The Times
She writes with raw power. This book demands to be read. — John Humphrys
Tackling the story of the lesser-known Gypsy Holocaust, Hawdon writes powerfully and sensitively about individuals deriving courage from what the can empathise with, during a terrible time. — The Lady
Lindsay Hawdon certainly didn't pick an easy subject, but by heck it's an important one, and she's more than done it justice with this mesmerising and moving tale. A bewitchingly beautiful and utterly captivating story, which shows that hope exists even in the very darkest of places. — Heat
Lindsay Hawdon's novel will crack your heart open — Sunday Express
It IS the best book I've ever read... — Linda's Book Bag
A haunting book, dealing with a little-known part of history, told in luminous and poetic prose. — Rebecca Mascull, author of THE VISITORS
A compassionate, hopeful heart beats strongly throughout this vivid work of poetic imagination as Jakob's Colours journeys across time and space to illuminate a long neglected chapter in the wider tragedy of European history. — Lindsay Clarke, author of THE CHYMICAL WEDDING
Wonderfully written - the descriptions, the fractured timeline, the colours bleed off the page and into your soul. This is not just a great book, but a very important one. — Marina Fiorato, author of BEATRICE AND BENEDICK
A heartbreaking love story... Writing with passion and poetry, Lindsay Hawdon brings astonishing colour and life to an episode of unremitting darkness and despair. I honestly believe it stands comparison with D.M. Thomas's classic The White Hotel. — Rory Clements, author of the bestselling John Shakespeare spy thrillers
An impressive, heartfelt debut - a book about the power of stories to sustain us and drive us forward. It reminded me of Patrick Süskind's Perfume, but with colours in place of scents... — Aly Monroe, author of the Ellis Peters Historical Award winner ICELIGHT
Jakob's Colours reduced me to tears. I loved its hypnotic, rhapsodic quality and can't shake it from my mind. — Sarah Vaughan, author of THE ART OF BAKING BLIND
Lindsay Hawdon's writing is beautiful, her characterisation pitch perfect, her ability to terrify and sicken eclipsed only by her ability to make us smile ... it is an important book, a story that is still very relevant seventy years after its setting; this is a book that demands an audience and I can guarantee that you will not come away disappointed. — Reader Dad blog