The backstory: I was coveting Trespass even before the Booker longlist was announced, but I was thrilled to hear it made the list because I'm reading it sooner than I probably would have otherwise.
The basics: I really like the introductory blurb in the book: "Set among the hills and gorges of the Cevennes, the dark and beautiful heartland of southern France, Trespass is a thrilling novel about disputed territory, sibling love and devastating revenge."
My thoughts: I feel foolish because Trespass is the first Rose Tremain novel I've read, and I absolutely adored her prose:
"Disdain--born out of a specialist knowledge, or what he thought of as a secret knowledge--was a habit perfected over forty years, and was now one of the few pleasures left to him." (p. 11)I didn't know too much about this novel going into it, and the initial chapters all introduced different characters. I tend to really enjoy novels with seemingly unconnected characters whose paths cross. As a reader, you expect it, but I cherish that feeling of knowing more than the characters do. Tremain skillfully let the reader in on things the characters were oblivious to, but she also let the characters keep a few secrets from the reader.
I adored this novel. I was fascinated by the characters (and Tremain's descriptions of them), I loved the cadence of the prose, and I was amazed at the depth of theme. It's rare for me to picture myself writing an English paper about a novel, but I found myself scribbling notes on theme from the novel's early pages. The trespass in the title is one of land, emotion and personal boundaries. Tremain examines the notion of trespass from so many different perspectives:
'Anything that has existence can be stolen or destroyed. So you must be vigilant.' (p. 15)The novel is set in southern France, and its first chapter comes from the perspective of a young girl who is new to the town. The reader first sees the landscape through the eyes of an outsider, but as the novel continues, the landscape becomes a character itself. The imagery of both the land and the people were incredibly gothic and mysterious. The land holds as many secrets as the characters.
"Even here, where life went along more slowly than in England, she could sense the restless agitation people felt to make real and tangible to them the fugitive wonders that flickered into their minds." (p. 72)The verdict: I loved both the story and its deeper thematic ideas. Trespass is an accessible literary novel with immense death. It's rare I want to reread a book as soon as I finish it, but I'm certain there are more subtleties and clues I've overlooked.
Booker thoughts: I truly hope Trespass makes the shortlist. I think it will benefit from and stand up to multiple readings.
Rating: 5 stars
Length: a powerful 253 pages
Publication date: It's out now in the UK, and it will be published in the U.S. on October 18, 2010
Source: I bought it
Now that I'm enamored with Rose Tremain, which of her backlist novels should I read first?
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