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Klara Z

Rose Tremain

I've just finished reading two novels by Rose Tremain, her latest, 'Trespass' which I can highly recommend, and an earlier novel, 'Sacred Country', which I enjoyed, but feel won't be to everyone's taste. (I found it somewhat rambling.) 'Trespass' is set in present day rural France, where there are dark secrets and potential clashes  between the incoming Brits and those who have occupied the land for generations---Zola crossed with 'Jean de Florette' , a very compelling plot, and a novel which stays in the mind. Previously, I'd very much enjoyed her novel 'The Road Home', about the ecomomic migrant experience, and I also loved 'The Colour' (set in nineteenth century New Zealand) and 'Restoration'. She is a brilliant, eclectic writer with a very wide range, in my view. Is anyone else here a fan?

I really look forward to reading 'Trespass'! 'Sacred Country' is one of the few Rose Tremain novels that I really did not enjoy very much, but apart from that, I think she is quite stunning. She seems able to write both historical novels and those with a contemporary setting with an equally sure touch.

I'll keep a look out for 'Trespass'. It sounds just my sort of thing.

I agree that she has a pretty wide scope, but I don't always like some of her more famous novels. I did like 'Sacred Country', though it's a long time since I read it. I got stuck on 'Music & Silence', which then put me off her other historical novels. I do like her short stories. I had heard mixed reviews from friends of her last but one novel, so I didn't try it; and haven't even read a single review of "Trespass" - I will follow this up.

'Sacred Country' is the only Tremain I've read, and I'm afraid I found it a little hollow. I didn't feel she quite got under the skin of her character sufficiently. Mind you, I read it in hardback when it came out, which is a good 15 years back now. I feel I ought to try her again at some point.

I once attended a writers workshop given by one of her erstwhile pupils on the UEA writing programme, Suzannah Dunn.
Billy the Fish

I've only read The Road Home, for book group, and have to admit it didn't make me want to rush out and read any more of her stuff - like Mike, I don't think any of the characters were really well drawn. I also didn't find it especially realistic - not that I was expecting Realism with a capital R.  The phrase that springs to mind is 'middlebrow' but that's probably quite unfair I suppose.

I'm now reading Rose Tremain's latest novel, "Merivel, a Man of His Time", which is a follow-up (20 years on) to her earlier historical  novel 'Restoration'. I'm absolutely loving it!  I think, though,that before reading this book, it would be a good idea to read 'Restoration' first, it's very much a sequel.

I've also been to the Guardian book talk  at King's Place, London, Rose Tremain in conversation with John Mullan focusing on 'Restoration', a book which it seems many readers have taken to their heart. Merivel is such a sympathetic character, buffonish yet kind, torn between the conflicting modes of his time (Puritanism v. the Court).  Really can recommend these two novels.

Did you get to ask a question? I love those John Mullan discussions, which I always listen to on the Guardian Books podcast.

One of the best writing workshops I've attended was run by a writer who studied under Rose Tremain on the UAE Creative Writing MA course. The only Tremain I've read is Sacred Country.

The odd thing is that, I see from this thread, I've also read 'Sacred Country', but I have no memory of it all! 'Restoration' is a much better book, I think; I've read it twice, also there's the film, with Robert Downey Junior, whom , it seems, Rose Tremain liked in the role, although she did feel the director/screenwriter hadn't fully appreciated the tone and theme of her book.

I asked her if she'd intended readers to take Merivel to their hearts (as many have) or whether she intended us to keep an ironic distance from him, (some of the time, he behaves like a selfish buffoon!) and she said she had intended Merivel to be as sympathetic as readers find him. She also said it was important, in her view, for writers to love their characters.

I heard her interviewed about this book yesterday ( I think) and she was talking about revenge and how Merivel is a man who disdains revenge at a time when duels were commonplace and taking revenge seen as the manly way to behave. I am looking forward to reading it too Klara

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