TRESPASS by Rose Tremain

Book Quote:

“As Kitty walked toward the water, she wondered: Doesn’t every love need to create for itself its own protected space? And if so, why don’t lovers understand better the damage trespass can do? It made her furious to think how easily Veronica was colluding with the unspoken open-endedness of Anthony’s visit – as though he was the one who mattered most to her, who had the right to come first and always would, and it was up to her, Kitty, to accept this hierarchy with grown-up grace and not make a fuss.

And of course Anthony knew all this. He no doubt enjoyed the knowledge. Enjoyed seeing ‘V’s little friend’ relegated to second place. It was possible that he’d let his stay drag on into summer or beyond, just to persecute her, to do his best to destroy Veronica’s love.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody  (OCT 18, 2010)

Rose Tremain is not only a prolific writer, but she is a great one. Each of her novels is different in theme, tenor, and topic. Trespass, her most recent book, is a dark, eerie and grim themed novel with a definite gothic undertone. Set in the southern part of France, in an area known as the Cevennes region, the land itself is portrayed as something feral and alive, so filled with lush growth, insects, snakes and sounds, that it has a life of its own.

In this region live a sister and brother, Audrun and Aramon Lunel. Aramon lives in the family home, Mas Lunel, that he inherited from his father. Audrun lives in a small bungalow in sight of Mas Lunel. Aramon is a misanthropic, mean-spirited drunk who has let his home go to ruin. It stinks, the olive groves are overgrown, and the hunting dogs are starving to death. Audrun hates her brother for reasons that are divulged towards the middle of the book. She inherited some land from her father and she loves to walk on it. In her bungalow, she feels like an outcast, seeing few people and staying very much to herself. Her only peace comes from her home and land. One day as she is doing her daily walk on her land, she sees Arumel stealing some of her saplings and fallen brush. Feelings of hate roil up in her but she lets him take the wood with her permission.

In another part of the valley live Veronica and her life partner Kitty in a home called Les Glaniques. They are totally and passionately in love. Kitty is a watercolorist of very limited talent and Veronica is writing a book called Gardening Without Water. Veronica is originally from England and is very close with her brother, Anthony Verey, who still resides there. Anthony is a narcissistic antiques dealer. He likes to refer to himself as “the Anthoney Verey.” He was once the talk of the town, invited to every party and known by everybody worth knowing. He calls his antiques his “beloveds.” With the downturn in the economy, Anthony is facing an existential crisis. Where once he could fall asleep by counting all those who envied him, he now is selling very little and invited places very infrequently. He and his sister, Veronica, have always been very close; however, he does not like Kitty. He decides to visit Veronica and stay for an indeterminate length of time. Though Veronica is thrilled about this visit, Kitty has reservations.

Once Anthony gets to his sister’s, he falls in love with the region and decides that he wants to purchase a home in the Cevennes region. Interestingly, he wants to buy Mas Lunel. He still has a lot of money and can spend 450,000 Euros on this home. Only one thing bothers him – Audrun’s bungalow is visible from the estate and he finds it an eyesore. Aramon, with dollar signs in his eyes, tells Anthony that he believes the bungalow is built illegally on his land and that he will get a surveyor to prove it. Then they will be able to tear it down. A series of events begins that set into motion acts that have irreparable results.

While staying with Veronica and Kitty, Anthony does his best to intervene in their relationship, trying to drive a rift between them. They become afraid to share their feelings and passion as they once did, suspicious that Anthony is on the other side of the door or the wall listening to them. Once like one, they grow further and further apart.

Trespass is a powerful word and in this novel we see it used in all its meanings. There is the basic trespassing on land, people trespassing on other lives and ignoring boundaries, the cultural implications of trespassing on the land of another culture, and the trespassing on honor and truth. Throughout the book, there is a darkness, a grim forboding of things to come. In some ways, this reminded me of the best of Joyce Carol Oates, and the way Oates portrays the darkness of characters and the dangers lurking in the ordinary day to day world. Tremain’s characters are rich. They come alive for us and we flinch at the darkness within their souls along with the pain within their hearts. She is a fine writer and this is one of her best books to date.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-5from 13 readers
PUBLISHER: W. W. Norton & Company (October 18, 2010)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Wikipedia page on Rose Tremain
EXTRAS: Reading Guide and Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of: 

The Road Home


October 18, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Character Driven, France, Man Booker Nominee, Reading Guide, y Award Winning Author

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