The Trespass – Rose Tremain

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 Long listed for 2010 Booker Prize

I enjoyed The Road Home and had heard wonderful things about many of Tremain’s other books, so was looking forward to reading her new one. Unfortunately it didn’t live up to my expectations and it left me feeling a little disappointed.

Trespass focuses on an isolated French farmhouse. The building belongs to Aramon, a man struggling with alcoholism. His estranged sister, Audrun, lives in a small house in the grounds, but he threatens to ruin her life by selling the farmhouse to Anthony, an English antique dealer. The main theme of the book is sibling rivalry and the boundaries that exist between people, both emotionally and physically.

Unfortunately none of the characters were particularly endearing and so I failed to connect with any of them. It was such a passive reading experience that I often found my mind wandering from the page.

The French countryside was vividly described, but the plot was very slow moving.

Audrun drew her old and frayed cardigan round her body and walked on through the wood, her face lifted to the warmth of the sun. In another month, there would be swallows,  In the hour before dusk they’d circle, not over her bungalow with its low, corrugated iron roof, but over the Mas Lunel, where Aramon still lived. They’d be looking for nesting sites under the tiles, against the cracked stone walls, and she would stand at the window of her flimsy home, or in her little potager, hoeing beans, watching them, watching the sun go down on another day. 

I can’t fault the quality of the writing, but I found the subject matter quite dull. I don’t dream about moving to the French countryside and find the issues with selling property quite tedious, so much of the book held little interest for me.

I was looking forward to the “violent crime” mentioned in the blurb, but although the plot picked up a bit when it occurred, my lack of empathy with the characters meant that I wasn’t as involved as I should have been.

Recommended to those who enjoy quiet books, especially if you are considering a move to France.

Opinions seem quite mixed:

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. Just Add Books

The style and the themes hit, but for me, the emotional side of the story didn’t. Fleur Fisher Reads

….hardly goes beyond the ordinary. Kevin from Canada


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31 Comments

  1. Verity says:

    I’m glad this wasn’t just me who was underwhelmed by this- nicely written but frankly disappointing given how much I’ve enjoyed some of her other novels.

    1. Jackie says:

      Verity, It is good to know I’m not alone. Let’s hope her next one is much more enjoyable :-)

  2. diane says:

    I just skimmed your review and checked out the rating as I do want to read this book. I was sorry to see it wasn’t a better read for you. Hope your next book is terrific.

    1. Jackie says:

      diane, It wasn’t a terrible read, just an OK one. I hope that you enjoy it a bit more than I did.

  3. Amy says:

    You aren’t having a lot of luck with your recent longlist reads it seems, sorry about that!

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, You’re right. I’m finding the Booker long list has been more miss than hit for me this year. I hope there are still one or two gems hiding on there somewhere.

  4. Meghan says:

    I wasn’t too crazy about my first Rose Tremain book, but I do like quiet books, so I won’t set this one aside just yet. I think I’ll wait to see if it moves on to the short list before committing any time soon though.

    1. Jackie says:

      Meghan, I forgot to write about whether I thought it would make the short list – sorry! Anyway I will be very surprised if it makes the Booker short list. It is just too average in my opinion. I’m normally wrong though!!

  5. Steph says:

    I’ve read snippets of this ARC at work, and was really impressed with the writing, so I’m sorry to hear the bulk of the novel didn’t really hold up. I wonder if I might like it a bit more simply because I haven’t read anything else by her and don’t have a baseline for comparison?

    1. Jackie says:

      Steph, She seems to be one of those fantastic authors that produces books of very different styles, so you will love some and not like others. I hope that you enjoy your first Tremain, but if you don’t – don’t write off the rest of her books as I’m sure you’ll enjoy some of them.

  6. Tricia says:

    I finished The Trespass a couple of days ago and I found it disappointing – I didn’t feel much empathy for any of the characters either. I’ll be surprised if this makes the shortlist.

    1. Jackie says:

      Tricia, It is good to know you agree with me. I would be very surprised to see it on the short list too, but they put it on the long list, so who knows what they are thinking!!

  7. Beth F says:

    I’m not considering a move to France, but I might enjoy this more than you did.

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, I think you might :-)

  8. I started this book about 7 months ago when I was sent it for review but I couldn’t get past 100 pages I was so bored. I loved The Road Home too. Maybe I’ll give it another go for the booker list but I’m not especially excited about it.

    1. Jackie says:

      The Book Whisperer, It does get better towards the end, but isn’t anywhere near as good as The Road Home. :-(

  9. Dorte H says:

    It is probably not my taste either. Based on your review I wonder that you give it 3 ½ stars, actually, but perhaps you are just more generous than me :D

    1. Jackie says:

      Dorte, I did consider giving it 3 stars, but in the end I decided it didn’t have anything really wrong with it – it was just an average book. Good writing, but subject matter didn’t appeal to me.

  10. Robbie Burns says:

    Jackie…not many of these Booker books seem to be blowing you out of the water. I am enjoying reading your reviews of them though. I can’t wait to see your predictions for the short list.

    P.S. – P&O in America started getting mildly better on page 328…lol

    1. Jackie says:

      Robbie, I’m afraid most of the Bookers are disappointing me this year :-(

      It is good to hear that Parrot and Oliver has only mildly improved by p328 – sounds as though I made the right decision abandoning it!

  11. John Braine says:

    Damn – that’s the one book on the longlist available as an audiobook. (Apart from Jacob de Zoet which I’ve already listened to). I’d planned to listen to it next but not sure I will now.

    1. Jackie says:

      John, Oh no! It might work better as an audio book? I hope that they convert a few more for you to listen to soon.

  12. Sandy says:

    I will never forget the first time I read A Year in Provence, which made me want to move to the French countryside, never mind I don’t speak French. A friend of mine actually DID move to France after reading that book. So it is a fantasy. I’m disturbed though that the characters failed to draw you in.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I haven’t read A Year in Provence, but I’m intrigued now you say it persuaded your friend to move! That just shows the power of a well written book :-)

  13. Jenners says:

    It is hard to like a book when you don’t care for the characters.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, Some people seem to enjoy this book despite not liking the characters, but I’m afraid I couldn’t really manage it.

  14. I’m sorry this didn’t wow you. Tremain has been on my “should read” list for far too long, and I’m looking forward to starting this one soon. I do have quite a fascination with France, so I hope I still enjoy it. My expectations are rather low at this point, but I’m eager to experience Tremain’s writing most of all.

    1. Jackie says:

      Carrie, It is a shame you’re starting with this one as I think many of her others are far better, but I hope that you enjoy it anyway.

  15. Dominique says:

    Hmmm…. I was keen about this one when I first heard of it, but it seems to have attracted very mixed reviews. I think I might give it a miss.

    1. Jackie says:

      Dominique, Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time :-) The Trespass does seem to be one of her weakest books for most readers. I recommend picking up one of her earlier ones instead.

  16. Kathleen says:

    I don’t think I can bear a quiet book right now. I need something that will help me escape from the stress of my work right now. But this could be a good one when I am in a more contemplative mood.

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