Monday, August 23, 2010

Booker Dozen 2010: Trespass by Rose Tremain

Trespass: A Novel
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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  1. My only read by Rose Tremain was The Road Home, which I liked but wasn't totally in love with. You've made this one sound amazing - I meant to give it a try anyway but now I think I'll have to soon!

  2. I am glad you liked Trespass! I have it reserved at my library now.

  3. I am so glad you loved this one as Tremain is one of my favorite authors and I was glad to see she was longlisted! The Road Home was the first book I ever reviewed on my blog and I absolutely loved it. I would also highly recommend The Colour.

  4. @Amused Thanks for the recommendations! I'm looking forward to reading more Tremain.

    @Stephanie I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

    @Meghan - I hope this one works out better for you!

  5. This book sounds really interesting, and the fact that it is a contender for the Booker makes me want to give it a try. I have a copy of Music and Silence by Tremain on my shelf, but have not read it yet, though I have heard it's very good. I will have to make some time for it so I can give you a report! Great review!

  6. It is great to see someone raving about this as I have only really seen average reviews before. I wasn't a big fan, but was hoping someone would explain its Booker long list inclusion. I have only read The Road Home, which I enjoyed, but have herd even better things about many of her older books. I'm most looking forward to reading The Colour.

  7. Well YAY, as someone else wrote that they did not care for it. I am waiting for the library copy. Your review makes am all the more anxious; thanks

  8. All the other reviews Ive read have said they liked it but it wasnt as good as the road home. I havent read Rose Tremain yet so I wonder if I should start with this one now as like you I wont have anything to compare it with.

  9. This is the second rapturous review I've read of this book today. I guess I'll have to add it to the ever-growing list!

  10. Funny enough, this was my first Tremain book too. I enjoyed it very much too and want to read more of her as soon as possible.

  11. I'm definitely going to look for this this fall.

    I too LOVE when random characters are introduced and they come together.


  12. @Zibilee - Thanks! I hope you enjoy Trespass. I'm looking forward to more Tremain too.

    @farmlanebooks I've heard great things about The Colour. I hope to read it soon.

    @Bibliophile by the Sea - I hope you enjoy Trespass. I've read mixed reviews, but I adored it.

    @Jessica I haven't read The Road Home either, but I hope to soon.

    @Jenners - I hope you get to it soon, I'll look forward to reading your thoughts!

    @Sandra - I'm glad you liked it too! I'll look forward to sharing our thoughts on future Tremain reads too.

    @Jennifer - I hope you like it when you get to it. I'll look forward to your thoughts!

  13. I read The Colour a few months ago and her writing blew me away. I'm going to have to check this out.

  14. @Lydia - you're certainly not the first to recommend The Colour to me. I'll have to get to that one!


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Happy reading!