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Fiction World War Ii

All the Colour in the World

A Novel

by (author) C.S. Richardson

Knopf Canada
Initial publish date
Jan 2023
World War II, Coming of Age, Literary
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2023
    List Price

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The story of the restorative power of art in one man’s life, set against the sweep of the twentieth century—from Toronto in the ’20s and ’30s, through the killing fields of World War II, to 1960s Sicily.
“Bold and resplendent. . . . Leave it to CS Richardson to find a way to paint with words.” —Nita Prose, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Maid

Henry, born 1916, thin-as-sticks, nearsighted, is an obsessive doodler—copying illustrations from his Boy’s Own magazines. Left in the care of a nurturing, Shakespeare-quoting grandmother, eight-year-old Henry receives as a gift his first set of colouring pencils (and a pocket knife for the sharpening). As he commits these colours to memory—cadmium yellow; burnt ochre; deep scarlet red—a passion for art, colour, and the stories of the great artists takes hold, and becomes Henry’s unique way of seeing the world. It is a passion that will both haunt and sustain him on his journey through the century: from boyhood dreams on a summer beach to the hothouse of art academia and a love cut short by tragedy; from the psychological wounds of war to the redemption of unexpected love.

Projected against a backdrop of iconic masterpieces—from the rich hues of the European masters to the technicolour magic of Hollywood—All the Colour in the World is Henry’s story: part miscellany, part memory palace, exquisitely precise with the emotional sweep of a great modern romance.

About the author

Contributor Notes

CS RICHARDSON’s first novel, The End of the Alphabet, was an international bestseller, published in fourteen countries and ten languages, and won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book (Canada and the Caribbean). His second novel, The Emperor of Paris, was a national bestseller, named a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year, and longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. An award-winning book designer, CS Richardson worked in publishing for forty years. He is a multiple recipient of the Alcuin Award, Canada's highest honour for excellence in book design. He lives and writes in Toronto.

Editorial Reviews

“Spare, elliptical, and supremely artful . . . [All the Colour in the World] studies a man buffeted—and buffeted again—by fateful circumstance. . . . A heady celebration of art, an act and form the author respects in all its facets.” Toronto Star
All the Colour in the World will leave readers marveling at how its author says so much with so few words. . . . This novel, so simple and succinct, is a love story, a war story and at least a semester’s worth of an art history course all rolled into one. It is poetic and perceptive, tender, and touching, and a lovely work of art. . . . A beautiful testament to the enduring power and beauty of art and of love.” Winnipeg Free Press
“With well-chosen images and metaphors and precise language, Richardson . . . tells the story of Henry, sweeping through the 20th century’s history and its art.” Toronto Star
“Bold and resplendent, yet reduced to a singular essence, All the Colour in the World is a unique style piece and a moving evocation of character. Leave it to CS Richardson to find a way to paint with words.” —Nita Prose, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Maid

“In saturated hues, the clicking slide show of Henry’s life reels through the carousel, flashes of brilliant images lending colour to the silvery grey-green backdrop of war in this thoughtful and beautiful book. Image after image flashes to form a kaleidoscope rendering of a fragile life—one that burns in the mind’s eye for a long time.” —Marina Endicott, author of The Difference

Other titles by C.S. Richardson