Friday, 21 May 2010

Trespass (Tremain)

I first encountered Rose Tremain the summer before last when she won the Orange Prize with The road home - regular readers of this blog will know that I use the prize to extend my reading into authors that I haven't previously come across, and for me, I found The road home to be a worthy winner. I discovered that Tremain had quite a substantial backlist; her historical titles were strongly recommended to me (particularly The colour and Music and Silence, neither of which I have yet got around to reading), and I read a couple of her more modern novels (The swimming pool season and The way I found her). Tremain is one of those writers who seems to write extremely widely, something I always find particularly impressive (as it is often rather tedious when a favourite author becomes boring by churning out extremely samey reading material)

Trespass, Tremain's latest novel, kindly sent to me by Fiona from Vintage to review, is one of Tremain's "modern" novels, and is located in France, in a setting not dissimilar to that of The swimming pool season. This is a book about siblings; brother and sister Veronica and Anthony, both English, and brother and sister Aromon and Audrun, who are French, and the theme of the book is sibling rivalry, dispute and ultimately revenge.

Aramon and Audrun have had a feud for years, but it is not until Anthony, who, escaping his life in England to live near his sister, comes to buy Aramon's house that things come to a head. It is obvious from the beginning that something bad is going to happen to the characters in this book; the question is how and it is difficult to synopsis the plot any more without giving too much away.

All of the four main characters are profoundly damaged human beings, and the book gets its name from the fact that all of the characters have been responsible for a "trespass" in some way, albeit not necessarily in the conventional sense involving land; I found this concept to be more interesting than the plot itself, and the idea that trespassing can be metaphorical as well as literal.

Unfortunately I felt that in comparison to The road home, the book was quite slow. The langorous descriptions of the French countryside may have been appropriate, but they didn't help to keep my interest in the book. So I'm afraid that this wasn't my favourite Rose Tremain to date. Has anyone else read this yet and what did you think? And do you have a favourite Tremain novel - as I have read very few I'd be interested to hear what people recommend.


  1. I haven't read this, but I enjoyed The Road Home. I own several of her other books so will probably get to them before starting this one. I'm sorry to hear it was slow, as you know I prefer books with a faster pace :-(

  2. I really recommend "Restoration" & the film is pretty good too.

  3. I thought this one was getting a rather quiet reception, and maybe you have explained why. I shall wait until it appears in the library. But do read the historical novels - quite wonderful!

  4. I really like Rose Tremain's writing. I always know I'm going to get a good quality female story. The Road Home took me a while to get into. I loved Music and Silence.

  5. Rose Tremain has been on my 'authors to read' list for too long. I really need to get to her soon...

  6. I have just picked a copy of this one up from my library - I'm not sure if it will be the book for me but I will give it a go.

  7. Like you, I wasn't certain that this was the best of Tremain's work, but nevertheless I thought it had interesting things to say about the cultural understanding of familial relationships either side of the channel. I've just sent it as a birthday present to my god-daughter who is married to a Frenchman in Brittany and who has a very interesting relationship with her in-laws.

  8. I've yet to read any of her novels, but I do have The Road Home ready and waiting. Perhaps I'll start there, but descriptions of the French countryside sound sort of appealing, too.

  9. Jackie - I'm not quite sure that this would be really your sort of thing, although am not surprised that you enjoyed The road home.

    Study Window - yes, you're right, the cultural aspect was interesting.

    Danielle - I think The road home would be a good place to start.

    Karen - I'll be interested to hear what you think.

    Jane - yes, it definitely has had a quite quiet reception.

    Joan - I think Music and Silence is probably calling me next.

    Alison - I shall look out for Restoration and the film.


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