Saturday, August 14, 2010

Trespass: review

I'm a bit out of practice with longer reviews, and I was tempted to tack this on to a panel of shorts, as I have two other reviews to write, but as it's long-listed for the Booker, it deserves a little bit more than that.

Trespass opens with a young girl on a school picnic making a gruesome discovery in the French countryside. It's an intriguing prologue, and the book goes back in time to trace the events that led to the discovery.

High up in the French hills sits the Mas Lunel – the family home of Aramon and Audrun. Aramon still lives in the Mas; in decrepitude and squalor; while Audrun lives in a cottage on the boundaries of the Mas' land – unwillingly bound to her brother, and to the house that she used to love.

In another part of France, Veronica Verey and her lover, Kitty, are working on a gardening book and living a relatively peaceful life, until Veronica's brother, Anthony comes to stay, from London.

Anthony is a once-famous antiques dealer, who has been hit hard by the recession, and he's looking for change, and purpose. He determines that he's going to buy a house in France, and one of the first ones he looks at is the Mas Lunel ...

What intrigues me about Trespass is the fact that I really didn't like any of the characters particularly. Usually when that happens I won't finish the book, because if I can't engage with the characters, then I can't engage with the story, but I had absolutely no trouble finishing Trespass at all.

It's not a particularly happy or uplifting book, and I had such a visceral reaction reading it at lunchtime at work one day, that I spent the rest of the day in an absolute funk. Trespass isn't a particularly happy book, but it is a good one. I'd find myself getting lost in it and being mildly surprised that I wasn't somewhere in the French countryside, but in the cafeteria at work.

Trespass is one of those novels that come back to you at random times – certain scenes are recalled with unexpected sharpness and I find myself randomly wondering about the characters. Which, given that I didn't feel particularly engaged with any of them, or found them relatable, is a real testament to the strength of the story and to Tremain's writing.

I'm interested to read the other books on the Booker long-list, to see how well Trespass stacks up against the competition ...


Amused said...

I've read 3 of Tremain's other books and loved them all so I am really looking forward to reading this one. I do sometimes have a hard time with books though when I don't particularly like any of the characters so this could be a tough read for me.

Jodie said...

Planning a little Bookerthon then? I read The Colour ages ago and I think Tremain is one of those authors who doesn't do likeable characters. Not quite sure what her purpose is with that, but quite fun to watch her write books.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why I know the name Rose Tremain? because I don't think I've read any of her books. Something tells me I should watch for this. GREAT review.

nomadreader said...

I absolutely loved this book. I'm glad to see I'm not the only fan! I suppose I didn't necessarily like any of the characters, but I found them all so fascinating, which is more important to me. I wanted to know what they would do and why.