By Fiona Whelpton
Key Themes: fiction, breakdown, mental health services, female experience, human courage
The Musical Paintbox is written in an extremely poignant and sensitive manner. The writer uses fiction as a tool to reveal how people with mental health issues really feel about life, their conditions, or should we say experiences, and the world around them. Jason Pegler, author and founder of Chipmunka Publishing
The Musical Paintbox is a story which opens up like a Pandoras box of painful melodic writings. It is a wonderful prose that plays a poignant song in your head and paints a touching sadness onto your heart. Each word, each note has its own colour, its own emotion, and Fiona conducts it beautifully in her writing. Listen, look and touch and this book will both enchant and pain you in symphonic tenderness. An exceptional read. – Dolly Sen, writer, poet and human rights activist
Claire is a born loner, although she dreams of becoming a professional concert pianist she has few friends, and feels hounded by the expectations placed on her by her family. Struggling with a low self esteem, and to find her identity during her adolescence she fears that she will not be loved just as she is, unless she has something to prove. This forces her into a position of becoming a perfectionist to the point of being obsessed with her music, to the exclusion of anything else. At university she meets an art tutor, David who has separated from his wife due to the pressure on the family of caring for a 14 year old step daughter, Rosie, who has schizophrenia and a history of self harming. The relationship between David and Rosie pushes way beyond the normal boundaries, resulting in Melanie, Davids wife, who is Rosies main carer experiencing a nervous breakdown herself. Claire knows nothing of Davids background or the fact that David will turn her life totally upside down, resulting in tragedy. The Musical Paintbox is an attempt to address the shortcomings of the mental healthcare professionals, by pulling no punches in observing the treatment of patients on a psychiatric ward. It attempts to show that artistic expression is essential to basic human survival in every one of us.
About the Author
Fiona Whelpton was born in London in 1957 and now lives in Nottingham. As a youngster Fiona wanted to become a professional musician, but she couldnt because it caused her too much stress, something that her condition dictates she must avoid. Instead she became interested in writing and read English Literature and Media at Nottingham Trent University. She is an accomplished poet having had an anthology of sketch work and poetry called Patchwork Windows published with the Lost Artists group. In 2004 Fiona received the Snowden award which will allow her to pursue her dream of being a top journalist. The Musical Paintbox is her second book to be released through Chipmunka, her first The Cycle Path has become one of our best sellers. Fiona is currently working on several projects including a film version of The Cycle Path.