The Broken Mirror is a collaboration between award-winning English novelist Jonathan Coe and the distinguished Italian artist, Chiara Coccorese.
Jonathan originally had the idea for the book when he was in his twenties, but couldn’t find the right form in which to tell it. Many years later, it was a visit to an exhibition of Chiara’s paintings that finally unlocked the story. What emerged from their collaboration was a fable which quickly outgrew its original shape. Through the device of the broken mirror, the story traces Claire’s passage into adulthood and shows us how it is our imaginations that really shape our lives. Like all the best fables it can be read with equal pleasure by adults and children.
The book was originally published in Italian in 2012. For its first English edition, Jonathan has chosen to work with Unbound to produce a book that is beautiful and unique as the story it tells.
Claire was eight years old when she found the mirror.
It was raining that day. Not heavy rain, but warm summer rain, with thick, occasional drops, falling from a dull, slate-grey sky. These were the last few days of the school holidays, and the weather had only just changed. They had been lucky this year: the sun had shone for almost the whole of their two weeks away. As usual, Claire and her parents had been to Wales for their holiday, staying in a small rented cottage a few miles from the sea. They had gone to the beach every day and for a short time Claire had forgotten her pervasive sense of loneliness. Towards the end of the holiday she had even made friends with another little girl, a nine-year-old called Lisa who was an only child, just like her. At the end of the holiday Lisa had asked Claire for her mobile number or email address but Claire had not been able to give them because she did not have either of these things.
It had been a happy time, but after only one day at home, everybody’s mood had changed. As soon as they returned, Claire’s father had sat down on the sofa with a pile of unread letters, and after he had finished reading them, he seemed angry with everyone and everything. Now her parents were talking earnestly in the kitchen about something to do with money, and Claire could think of nothing to do except wander out into the garden. It was a small garden, and it didn’t take her long to get bored, out there by herself. She would have played on the swing, but one of the ropes was broken. So instead, she walked down to the bottom of the garden, and slipped out through the hole in the fence, where one of the posts had rotted away.
These people are helping to fund The Broken Mirror.