Friday, January 14, 2011

Rose Tremain

It's difficult to believe that it's been almost three years now since I began reviewing books for Library Journal. It has been one of the greatest pleasures of my career and gives me such a sense of pride and fulfillment. The first book that Barbara Hoffert sent to me was such a special gift. I'll always remember the excitement of tearing open that puffy, overnight delivery bag to see what was in store for me. I still get a thrill when UPS shows up at the library with a book for me.

The Road Home, by Rose Tremain, was the subject of my debut review over which I agonized for days before hitting the "send" button. So naturally, when I saw that Ms. Tremain had a new publication, I had to snatch it up. Trespass is the title of her latest offering and, much like her previous novel, it creeps up on you slowly and then won't let go.

Ms. Tremain is a literary, nuanced writer; the recipient of or nominee for many of England's most prestigious awards.
Trespass is a slowly building, psychological thriller centered on two pairs of siblings whose stories at first seem to run parallel to each other and then suddenly overlap through a perfect series of events that seem both horrifying and inevitable.

When the abandoned little girl, Audrun, was adopted by the owners of the Mas Lunel in southern France, the villagers convinced themselves that her future was assured. But when Audrun's protective mother dies suddenly, her father and jealous brother Aramon, show their true colors, subjecting Audrun to years of abuse. Aramon's life descends into sloth and drunkenness, the glorious Mas falls into disrepair, while Audrun, considered a little "strange", is exiled to a small bungalow on the periphery of the property.

Coincidentally, another brother and sister, Anthony and Veronica Verey, live vastly different lives; Anthony as a renowned art and antique dealer in London, and Veronica, with her long-time lover Kitty, contentedly ensconced as a writer and garden designer at her home in the south of France. Kitty and V have such an idyllic existence that the reader - well I, at least - got a knot in my stomach knowing full well that nothing this wonderful will be allowed to last. What is it about happiness that cries out to be destroyed by others?

The economic downturn has a distinctly adverse effect on Anthony's business and makes a severe dent in his extravagant lifestyle. As he's done his entire life, he turns to V for solace and comfort, extracting an open-ended invite to regroup in France. With a sense of doom I watched as Veronica allowed the serpent into the garden, completely disregarding Kitty's sensibilities and insecurities.

Tremain's skill is so subtle and understated that I fear she may be overlooked in this country, but I can tell you, if I ever get to just sit around and read all day - ah joy - I will begin at the beginning and read her entire oeuvre. Her ability to nail the all too human emotions; jealousy, envy, desire, avarice, is remarkable. The fact that she can do it and still create characters with whom we can empathize, even in their darkest moments, is incredible.

No comments: