Touching the Rainbow, by Paul Jones


Pete Cooper does not live a very satisfying life.  He manages his grandfather’s carpet store, and thanks to an inability to commit has been engaged to his fiancée, Christine, for over a decade.  He is insecure and jealous, and finds personal relationships difficult thanks to the dysfunctional parenting he has experienced.  All these issues seem to be resolved when he dies by having a seizure while driving and crashes head-on into a lorry.

That is not the end of Pete’s story; in a way it is the beginning.  He becomes a ghost, able to see the world around him but possessing limited ability to interact with it.  He finds himself trapped on the earth plane with only the occasional company of a child named Gina.  She acts as his guardian angel and tells him that before he can move on he must let go of the emotional baggage that is holding him back.  To do this he must accomplish a number of tasks which, although he will find them distressing, will help him to understand his place in the great chain of being.

As the story unfolds Pete learns why his background has made him the person he is, how he has negatively affected others and how he himself is responsible for his unfulfilled life.  Along the way he finds out uncomfortable truths about himself and others.  While experiencing this learning process he goes through a post-mortem grieving cycle, moving from incredulity and frustration, anger with himself for past foolishness he now so clearly sees, to understanding and self-forgiveness, until he is able to act positively in putting the interests of others before his own.  These actions do not just involve helping those left behind to have a happy ending, but also waging a spiritual battle against noxious entities trapped in a hellish lower plane who seek to corrupt the vulnerable.  This, it becomes clear as Pete finds his way and seeks to achieve the goals set for him, is a very moralistic universe.

Billed as ‘paranormal romance fiction’, Touching the Rainbow is a sincerely told tale that has lessons about personal relationship for us all, whether living or dead.  Unfortunately the telling is creaky in the extreme.  According to the publisher’s flyer, Paul Jones has written eight novels, but on the evidence of this one he desperately needs a decent editor.  Typos abound, and the language is often clunky.  Christine, for example, is rarely mentioned without the reader being reminded that she is Pete’s ex-fiancée, not something one is likely to forget.  A reincarnation theme is signalled by references to Britney Spears’ ‘Everytime’, but unfortunately she is referred to as Brittany.  Such elements are distracting for the reader.  The threads tie up neatly, if somewhat predictably, but the jerky style detracts from engagement with the characters’ situations.  However, anyone who can describe the successful conclusion to Pete’s duel with a ghoul in the following terms definitely has a promising career in front of him:

We all watched as it flipped over and over into the churning mouth below and as soon as it was devoured the yawning hole immediately sucked itself shut like a giant anus that had finished defecating.


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