Trespass: Book summary and reviews of Trespass by Rose Tremain

Trespass

A Novel

by Rose Tremain

Trespass by Rose Tremain X
Trespass by Rose Tremain
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About this book

Book Summary

An electrifying novel about disputed territory, sibling love, and devastating revenge from the celebrated author of The Road Home and Restoration. In a silent valley in southern France stands an isolated stone farmhouse, the Mas Lunel. Aramon, the owner, is so haunted by his violent past that he's become incapable of all meaningful action, letting his hunting dogs starve and his land go to ruin.

Meanwhile, his sister Audrun, alone in her modern bungalow within sight of the Mas Lunel, dreams of exacting retribution for the unspoken betrayals that have blighted her life. Into this closed world comes Anthony Verey, a wealthy but disillusioned antiques dealer from London. When he sets his sights on the Mas, a frightening and unstoppable series of consequences is set in motion.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Tremain renders this untamed area with haunting prose, but the affecting sense of dread she builds makes her tale at times unrelentingly grim." - Publishers Weekly

"No Tremain novel is like any other. This one is much darker but no less compelling than the celebrated The Road Home." - Library Journal

"Tremain's intimate knowledge of the Cévenol is evident throughout Trespass. She evokes the coolness of the old dark house, its thick stone walls and high ceilings, reminiscent of a church roof." - The Guardian (UK)

"If a sense of strain is to be found in this novel, it is in its multiplicity of narrative threads....Add to them the emotional baggage of Veronica and Kitty’s uneasy relationship, and of little Melodie, and the whole enterprise sometimes seems to risk foundering. It doesn’t, of course. Tremain steers her story towards its redemptive conclusion so deftly it seems churlish to feel that something less poised might have been more moving." - The Telegraph (UK)

"[B]oth vivid and wonderfully compressed, the eye that is cast over proceedings unblinking. There is no striving for effect; such imagery as is deployed is perfectly judged, the story- telling is stripped down to its purest form, and the command of the material is total. The novel is only 250 pages long, but it packs an enormous punch – the work of a writer at the top of her game." - The Independent (UK)

"Trespass is full of such particular insights but in the end, imagination seems squandered on a routine plot." - The Times (UK)

This information about Trespass was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Gabrielle Renoir-Large

Dark and Brooding
Two things drew me to Rose Tremain’s latest novel, “Trespass.” One was the fact that it was set in the Cévennes mountains of the Central Massif (south central France, a region I know well), and the second is that it was described as being “very dark.” I love France and have spent many happy years there, and I love well-written “dark” books.

“Trespass” revolves around five middle aged characters: two French siblings, Audrun and Aramon, who share a secret past; an English garden designer and writer, Veronica, and her lover, a mediocre watercolorist, Kitty; and Veronica’s brother, Anthony Verey, a London antiques dealer in his middle sixties, who has come to France to try to salvage what’s left of his life. While Audrun and Aramon are more or less estranged, Veronica and Anthony have remained very close.

Aramon Lunel is an alcoholic (he has an over-fondness for pastis, “the” drink of the South of France), who is in poor health. His deceased father, Serge, left him a wonderful stone mas, the Mas Lunel, which Aramon hopes to sell to Anthony for 475,000 euros. The only problem is the fact that Audrun, who was left the surrounding woodland, has built a squalid modern bungalow on the boundary that separates her land from Aramon’s, thus destroying the otherwise perfect view and destroying one of Anthony’s requirements for any property he might buy – aesthetic beauty (solitude is the other requirement). Audrun, who steadfastly refuses to rebuild deeper in the forest, out of sight of the Mas Lunel, alienates Anthony, Aramon, and all the local estate agents, who feel they cannot sell the Mas Lunel until the dispute between brother and sister is settled. In the meantime, Anthony’s continued presence in Veronica’s and Kitty’s home is driving a wedge between the two women as Veronica chooses, with increasing frequency, to take Anthony’s side over Kitty’s in any dispute.

Although the Mas Lunel can definitely be restored to its former idyllic beauty, Aramon has not kept it up. Tremain writes, "...thousands of Cévenol people had seemed to forget their role as caretakers of the land. Diseases came to the trees. The vine terraces crumbled. The rivers silted up. And nobody seemed to notice or care." No, Aramon doesn’t care. He only cares about getting out. He has no love for the Mas Lunel or the land around it.

Audrun, however, living in her shabby bungalow, can’t bear to leave the land she loves despite the fact that the Mas Lunel holds many bitter memories for her. In fact, possessing the mas is the one thing that keeps Audrun going from day-to-day.

As would be expected, all of the main characters in “Trespass” have either trespassed on the rights of others or are planning to do so. Kitty, who realizes that the deep bond between Anthony and Veronica was formed long before she and Veronica even met struggles with the once carefree relationship she and her lover shared, a relationship that is now facing destruction from outside forces. "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?"

Unlike Anthony and Veronica, Audrun and Aramon do not have the same kind of close bond. Though they both adored their mother, Bernadette, their father was abusive, and he encouraged Aramon to follow his example. Both brother and sister struggle to come to terms with their poisoned past, though they struggle in different ways.

Tremain does a good job of conjuring up the menace that lingers in the Cévenol no matter how bright the sun or how warm the temperature. I can’t really say I felt like I was in those forbidding and dangerous hills, but maybe that’s "just me." I can say that from the very first page, which couldn’t fail to pull any reader in, I knew that these characters were heading toward something terrible, though I wasn’t sure what. Tremain, thankfully, manages to sustain the suspense until the very last page, and even after we find out who the "bad guy" is and what he or she’s done, we don’t know if he or she will get away with it. The book reminded me a little of the works of Thomas Hardy – characters at the mercy of fate, people who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and strangely, “Trespass,” which was longlisted for 2010’s Man Booker Prize, reminds me a little of an earlier Man Booker winner, John Banville’s “The Sea,” though the setting and subject matter are entirely different.

Along the way, Tremain gives us a history lesson of the Cévennes. She tells us about the decline of the once thriving silk industry, the poor working conditions Audrun once endured in the underwear factory in Ruasse, the way the Cévenol people never hoped for more than what they already had. But it’s the sense of isolation, of ever-present menace that really captures the spirit of the area and adds to the darkness of this book. The woods of holm oak and beech and chestnut and pine are lovely, but Tremain never lets us forget that its loveliness is fraught with danger.

While I could feel sympathy for some of the characters in “Trespass,” I really didn’t like any of them, other than Mélodie, a little girl we meet in the first chapter and then don’t see again for about two hundred pages or so. I’m not surprised. They aren’t, by any means, likable people. They seem either blind to their faults or dismissive of them. But they did seem real. They were one hundred percent believable and so is their story.

The only quibble I have with this book is a maddening habit of Tremain’s to write "and now he, Anthony" or "now that she, Kitty...." when we know who’s being written about. The reference is distracting. Even though grammatically correct, this habit really got on my nerves and it reminded me of something a lesser writer would do, not someone of Tremain’s status.

“Trespass” isn’t my favorite Rose Tremain book, by any stretch. I don’t think it can hold a candle to the magnificent “Music and Silence,” which I read years ago and still think about often, but other than the above grammatical quibble, I really can’t point to any particular fault, though something holds it back from greatness.

In the end, “Trespass” is an engrossing and unsettling story, and by Tremain’s standards, it’s a dark one. Her characters are in search of redemption from their trespasses, and some of them are more active about pursuing that redemption than others. Is it worth it? Well, Tremain wisely leaves that for her readers to decide.

4.5/5

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Author Information

Rose Tremain Author Biography

Rose Tremain, born in London in 1943, was one of only five women writers to be included in Granta's original list of 20 Best of Young British Novelists in 1983. Her novels and short stories have been published worldwide in 27 countries and have won many prizes, including the Sunday Express book of the Year Award (for Restoration, also shortlisted for the Booker Prize); the Prix Femina Etranger, France (for Sacred Country); the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award (for Music & Silence) and the Orange Prize for Fiction 2008 (for The Road Home). Restoration was filmed in 1995 and a stage version was produced in 2009. Her latest novel is The Gustav Sonata which sees Rose 'writing at the height of her inimitable powers' (Observer).

Rose lives in Norfolk, England with the ...

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Link to Rose Tremain's Website

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  • The American Lover jacket

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