Colour Blind is the story a child of mixed parentage being brought up in Newcastle, England and the struggles and prejudices she has to endure. The story opens before the main character is born. It is 1915 in Newcastle, England - the coal capital of the world. Bridget McQueen has sent a letter home to her parents to say that she will be coming to tea that afternoon to introduce her new husband to the family. Bridget's brother, Matt, is angry that his sister has married before the family have met her husband. When Bridget arrives, the family are in a state of shock to find that Bridget's husband is black. James Patterson is a charming man, who treats Bridget very well and is a fireman in the merchant navy. Sadly, because of his color, it is about the only job he can get and that is only because the First World War is in full swing. He earns good money in the merchant navy and has bought a house for them in a road close to her mother's house.
The family are still reeling from the shock, when it is discovered that Bridget did not get married in a Catholic Church and that she is pregnant with James' child. The local priest begrudgingly agrees to marry them again in church, for the sake of the family and the baby. Only Bridget's mother, father and their lodger, Tony attend. Tony was taken in by the McQueen family when he was orphaned as a child. He now contributes handsomely to their meager monthly income. Tony joins up and goes to war and James goes back to sea.
Matt is the evil character in the book. He tries to get Bridget drunk by forcing alcohol down her throat, in the hope that she will abort. None of the family want the child to be born. Bridget's mother tries to get a local midwife to attend the birth, so that should the baby not be white, it can be killed. Thankfully, the family doctor arrives just before Bridget's mother and the midwife are about to drug Bridget. James arrives back from sea just after his daughter, Rosa Angela is born. Unfortunately, James is never home for long and Bridget finds the strain too much, and with Matt's help becomes dependent on alcohol.
Bridget is avoided by most people in the town. Her family talk to her but are very aware of the awful comments being said behind her back. Her father is her biggest ally and comes to visit her and Rose often. The years roll by and in 1918, James comes home and find Matt and Bridget drunk and hugging. James attacks Matt and a fight ensues. It is thought that Matt is dead, so James grabs Rose and runs for his life. The town soon hear about the murder and everyone is out looking for James vengeance on their minds. Tony hears the news and is determined to help James, whom he has grown fond of. He finds James and persuades him to leave Rose with him. Tony promises James that he will look after her and always tell her stories of her father. James flees fro his life but it transpires that Matt isn't dead.
Rose grows up and goes to school, where she has to suffer prejudiced behavior from both pupils and teachers alike. Her Uncle Matt is always threatening her and being verbally abusive. Her life is a misery. One day, one of the girls tell her she won't go to heaven, because heaven is for whites only. Rose goes to see the local church to ask the priest if this is so, he says, no, God is color blind.
When Rose leaves school, she goes into service. However, life is not easy here either, as the gentlemen in these households seem to think they can take advantage of her. She is sacked from her jobs regularly and sadly now has a reputation for leading men on. Tony is still very supportive and he and Bridget are now in love. Bridget will not let Tony live in her house as she is still married to James and does not know if he is alive or dead.
Rose's grandfather gets her a temporary job as a housekeeper for an artist (Michael Stanhope) who lives on the seafront, as his permanent housekeeper is ill. Rose loves this job but realizes it is only temporary. When the housekeeper recovers and comes back to work, Michael fires her and asks Rose to work permanently for him. Rose is delighted. When Rose arrives at work one morning, Michael is about to paint a black boxer and Rose realizes that this is her father, James. When James has finished the sitting, Rose follows him to where he is living on the railway. She can see that he is ill and wants her to come home. James says he will not come home as he doesn't want to upset Bridget and Tony. Rose promises to keep the secret and brings her father food every morning, which he shares with his friends who are also homeless.
Over the weeks, Rose has noticed an Arab hovering outside Michael's house and a couple of times he has tried to talk to her. One morning when she visits her father, he has gone but the Arab is there and insists that her father is staying with him and she must follow him. The Arab's name is Hassan and her father is now very ill and Hassan has taken him into his boarding house. Unfortunately, Matt follows Rose to the Arab quarter and see her go into the boarding house and assumes she is now a prostitute. Rose decides that as her father is obviously very ill, she must live with him in order to care for him. Matt tells her mother that she is now living with an Arab, as Rose is sworn to secrecy, she cannot divulge her true reason for staying in the Arab quarter.
The following day Michael thanks her for being in his life and seeing that there is life outside his four walls. He lets her borrow at atlas which she takes to her father so he can show her where he has traveled in the world. While Michael is out shopping, Rose uncovers a portrait which he has painted of her. He walks in while she is looking at it. Michael then declares his love for Rose and says he has always loved her and would she live with him. Rose says yes. Rose has to leave in a hurry as she realizes her father will wonder where she has gone. Michael insists on seeing her home, thinking that is where she is still living. Hassan is waiting to escort Rose home and Michael spots them on the tram together. While Michael is out, Matt puts a note through his door telling Michael of Rose's history with men and her friendship with Hassan.
When Hassan and Rose get to Hassan's home, he tells Rose how much he loves her and asks her to marry him. Matt is then spotted outside by one of Hassan's friends and he is dragged up to Rose and James' room where he proceeds to punch Rose and threatens to burn the house down. He runs off and everyone tries to find him but he manages to escape.
When Rose arrives at Michael's house the following day, sporting a black eye, Michael is angry. Rose tells him the truth about her father, Matt and Hassan, but Michael doesn't believe her and tells her, she is no longer employed by him. Rose is devastated and goes back to see her father. Hassan discusses marriage again and Rose says that she will think about it and perhaps try to love him. James tells Hassan that there is no way he will give them his blessing, as he doesn't want Rose to marry someone of color.
Bridget goes to see Rose at Michael's but Rose is not there. Michael tells Bridget that James is back and that Rose is looking after him at Hassan's. Bridget know that this is true and wants to find Rose immediately. Michael says it isn't safe and he will find Rose for her. Bridget goes home to Tony and tells him that James is alive. When Hassan sees Michael he is angry because of the way Michael treated Rose. They argue and Rose hears them and comes downstairs and walks with Michael while he talks to her. He apologizes profusely and says how much he loves her and he wants to marry her. She agrees.
Matt now appears on the scene and punches Michael and drags Rose away. Hassan and his friends follow and Hassan gets Rose away from Matt and then stabs Matt and tries to stab Michael. Rose stops him and he lets Michael live. Rose and Michael go back to see James and James gives them his blessing. Bridget arrives to see James and they have a little time together before James dies. This allows Bridget and James to find peace and then for Tony and Bridget to had married. Michael and Rose also get married.
Best part of story, including ending:
The story demonstrates the appalling blatant prejudice against color, even towards a very young child.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is near the end when Bridget is reunited with her husband James.
Opinion about the main character:
Rosa Angela (or Rose) is yet another of Catherine Cookson's characters who is just a little too good to be true.