Book Review | The Woman Who Heard Color
Title: The Woman Who Heard Color
Author: Kelly Jones
This story takes place during two seperate time periods. We follow “art detective” Lauren O’Farrell who is trying to determine the true intentions behind Hanna Fleishmann, a woman rumored to have aided the Nazi’s in their campaign to destroy degenerate art while simultaneously filing her own pockets. We are also in the present with Isabella Fletcher, Hanna’s daughter. Isabella is the one person who can shine light on Hanna’s story, proving once and for all her mother isn’t who she’s rumored to be.
The main frustration with this book was how it was presented. I wasn’t a fan of switching back and forth between Isabella and Lauren in the present and Hanna in the past. I would find myself invested in Hanna’s story, eager to find out what happens next, just to be pulled back to ‘reality.’ It was particularly frustrating because it always felt like Isabella and Lauren spent a lot of time summarizing what I had just read, but with holes in the story. It was difficult to differentiate between what exactly Isabella was supposed to be telling Lauren and what only I knew as the reader. There are secrets that we find out from Hanna that Isabella never learns by the end of the book. So how exactly are we learning Hanna’s story? It just doesn’t make sense to me. If the author wanted to tell a story from what Isabella knew about her mother, the reader should only know what Isabella knows, but the reader know so much more than she does. I would have preferred just reading the story of Hanna.
I was fascinated by Hanna. She suffers from a rare disorder called synesthesia. Her senses get mixed up and she literally hears music in colors and sees colors in sound. For Hanna, art is a full sensory experience. The author did an amazing job at capturing her experiences with words. Hanna has a true love of art. We get to experience the development of her art appreciation right from the beginning of the book. She was unusual for a woman in her time, making her an intriguing character.
Though this book takes place leading up to and during World War ll, there isn’t much focus on the concentration camps and other physical horrors during that time. I must say, this was a bit of a relief. It can be emotionally draining to read about. However, Hanna does experience her own difficulties and struggles, usually pertaining to the loss of her family and the art that she loves so much. It was a new side of Nazi Germany that we don’t hear too much about. When I finished the book I found myself researching the paintings that were talked about so I could try and see the art the way Hanna did. I was driven to know more about them, and for me the urge to find out more once the book has finished is a sure sign that the book was a success.
*I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel.*