Musical Paintbox, The


SKU e-book Category

123 in stock


By Fiona Whelpton


ISBN: 978-1-905610-01-3
Published: 2006
Pages: 90
Key Themes: fiction, breakdown, mental health services,female experience, strength

“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 Pandora’s 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, David’s wife, who is Rosie’s main carer experiencing a nervous breakdown herself. Claire knows nothing of David’s 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 couldn’t 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’

Book Extract

All Claire had ever wanted to do since she was a little girl was play the piano. That was her passion, her dream. She couldn’t ever remember a time when she had ever wanted anything else as much, or more. In the end it became an obsession, which festered, and took hold of her. It became destructive. Destructive in such a way that she became embittered, as it eventually totally and utterly destroyed her. In the end, she would never play a single note ever again.

All those hours and hours and hours of endless practising – wasted.
For what? What had happened was a complete mystery, even to people who considered that they had known her well. Like David, the artist, who could see through Claire, the pianist, transparently. Suddenly it seemed as if no one really knew her at all. Her closest friend, the artist, couldn’t believe that he didn’t remotely know her, and so he set out on a journey. A journey intended to piece together some of the missing parts of the unfinished jigsaw puzzle, whose pieces would all fit together in their correct position, in the end.

In order to be able to play to perfection and immerse herself in the magical world of sound, the musician needed solitude. Her fingers were able to run up and down the keyboard with ease, glorious harmonic progressions, the rippling arpeggios of Beethoven, the strong, firm, mighty passionate chords which require a woman to posses the strength of any man. But Claire was very much a person in her own right. She was not like the violinist, who needed other violinists in order to enlarge their sound, and needed to enlarge their sounds in order to embrace all the other stringed instruments of the orchestra. The chords of the piano were complete and perfect in their own right. From the major and minor chords of Beethoven to the whole tone scales of Debussy – the piano very much its own person. An empty room is easily filled with its grand presence without needing anyone, or anything else to embrace it.

The pianist needed to be alone, to be separate from other people, to be different, in order to perfect her art. But was it right to be alone in a room, for hours on end, solitary? Would it be possible for the pianist to be strong enough to be able to survive the isolation?
On the outside she was. But what was happening to her inner life? To her inner – being, which was somehow allowed to escape through the different colours and phrases of the sounds; the rising and falling of each melodic line as it merged into the phrases of each choral progression?

And what of the pianist, what made her tick and survive? There was something driving her, apart from the music. It wasn’t just the power of the music by itself, it was an outside force. Most people need other people to survive. No-one could survive with just the music for company. What made Claire survive-if she was to at all?

The portrait was painted with every stroke of the brush, producing a different colour. The shape, form, and style all merged together to produce …….



There are no reviews yet.

Only logged in customers who have purchased this product may leave a review.