Excerpt from Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Shades of Grey

by Jasper Fforde

Shades of Grey
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Dec 2009, 400 pages
    Mar 2011, 400 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

“I think I know what the problem is,” I said quietly, knowing full well that unlicensed tampering with National Color property carried a five- hundred- merit fine.

The park keeper looked at me, then at Dad, then back to me. He bit his lip and scratched his chin, looked around and then lowered his voice. “Can it be easily fixed?” he asked. “We have a wedding at three. They’re only Grey, but we try to make an effort.”

I looked at Dad, who nodded his assent. I pointed at the pipe.

“The yellow flow meter’s jammed, and the lawn’s receiving only the cyan component of the grass- green. Although I would never condone Rule breaking of any sort,” I added, making sure I had deniability if everything turned brown, “I believe a sharp rap with the heel of a shoe would probably free it.”

The park keeper looked around, took off his shoe and did what I suggested. Almost instantly there was an audible gurgling noise.

“Well, I’ll be jaundiced,” he said. “As easy as that? Here.”

And he handed me a half merit, thanked us and went off to package up the grass clippings for cyan- yellow retrieval.

“How did you know about that?” said Dad as soon as we were out of earshot.

“Overheard stuff, mostly,” I replied.

We’d had a burst magenta feed a few years back, which was exciting and dramatic all at the same time— a cascading fountain of purple all over the main street. National Color was all over us in an instant, and I volunteered myself as tea wallah just to get close. The technical language of the colorists was fairly obfuscating, but I’d picked up a bit. It was every resident’s dream to work at National Color, but not a realistic prospect: Your eyes, feedback, merits and sycophancy had to be beyond exemplary, and only one in a thousand of those who qualified to take the entrance exam.

We ambled around the garden for as long as time would permit, soaking in the synthetic color and feeling a lot better for it. Unusually, they had hydrangeas in both colors, and delicately hand- tinted azaleas that looked outside of the CYM gamut: a rare luxury, and apparently a bequest from a wealthy Lilac. We noted that there wasn’t much pure yellow in the garden, which was probably a sop to the Yellows in the town. They liked their flowers natural, and since they could cause trouble if not acceded to, they were generally given their own way. When we passed the lawn on our way out, the grass in the anomaly was beginning to turn back to fresh lawn green, more technically known as 102-100-64. It would be back to full chroma in time for the wedding.

We stepped out of the color garden, and walked back toward the main square. On the way we passed a Leaper who was seated by the side of the road, covered entirely in a coarse blanket except for his alms arm. I put my recently acquired half merit in his open palm, and the figure nodded in appreciation. Dad looked at his watch.

“I suppose,” he said with little enthusiasm, “we should go and have the rabbit experience.”

Excerpted from Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde. Copyright © 2009 by Jasper Fforde. Excerpted by permission of Viking. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Jasper Fforde

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

    The remarkable life of a woman who carves her own singular path.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.