Monday, 9 August 2010

Review: Trespass by Rose Tremain


  • star1 star1 star1 half star
  • Genre: General Fiction/Literary (Man Booker Long listed)
  • Published: 2010
  • Pages: 253


I decided to read this partly because it’s on the Man Booker Longlist and I’m never usually “with it” enough to have read any of them. I hope very much that Trespass wins.

Trespass is a difficult story to describe. In short, it is about a struggling antiques dealer who decides to move to France, near his sister, to get away from everything in London he has come to hate. Whilst trying to find the perfect, ideal house, he bumbles into a lifelong argument between a brother and a sister. Trespass does not refer simply to the physical, territorial of the word – but also the personal and private spaces that we can’t always see. It is a very subtle book – by no means slow moving because the writing is beautiful, but it does not move great distances and is more about the small, delicate interwoven relationships between mother and child, brother and sister.

Rose Tremain is one of my favourite authors and I would not say I have many authors that I would follow to the ends of the earth, but Tremain is one of them.

I have read three of her previous books and loved them all more then this one – which is why I have given it a three point five stars rather then a round four. It’s still a book I would recommend – but not before reading at least one of her others. I would recommend either The Road Home or Restoration to start with, because these are two of my all time favourite books.

Tremain is one of those authors who can bring the three parts of a good book together – good writing, good story and good characters making them some of the most perfectly balanced books I have ever read. She has a unique, quirky voice that is very strong and clear. She approaches her writing not from a face on angle – but just a little to the side, making her books a little unexpected, a little different and not like any other. It’s a style of writing that is very different to others out there, but it isn’t distracting or interfering.

The sibling relationships are dark and dysfunctional. They aren’t particularly likeable because there is something deeply unsettling about their relationships with each other. What I have always loved about Tremain is that she is capable of creating very real, three dimensional characters who aren’t nice all the time. I didn’t think that the characters were quite so well drawn in Trespass as her others, but I’m putting this down to the fact that it is more about the dynamic between brother and sister then the individual characters.

This feeling of trespass pervades through almost every page of the book – like strangling ivy. It’s not a very nice feeling but an effective one and still an enjoyable book because of it. It’s probably more enjoyable for those who already love Tremain rather then newcomers to her books.

I can’t recommend Tremain enough, I think she’s a fantastic author, but this book just doesn’t seem to be up there with the others. That isn’t to say it’s a bad book – I really enjoyed it. Her writing is so good I can practically taste the words in my mouth.

If you haven’t read Tremain before please do check out The Road Home and Restoration. The Road Home is set in modern London about an immigrant from the eastern bloc and Restoration is set during the restoration of King Charles II. Although I enjoyed Trespass, it is a comparatively weaker book to her others.


  1. I've been getting Rose Tremain mixed up with Rose Macaulay, and consequently (this always happens when I get two authors confused) I haven't read anything by either of them. I have to change this!

  2. Oh please do. I adore Tremain - never heard of Macaulay I will have to check her out later (when It isn't 3am).

  3. I have never heard of Tremain before, but I'll definitely keep the books in mind when I get my ridiculous TBR stack down. Glad you liked it!

  4. I really like the sound of this, especially how subtle you say it is. But I'll start with the other two Tremain books you recommended.

  5. I also haven't heard of Tremain before. Looking at the cover of the book I thought it was going to be a horror and/or thriller novel.. was that just me? You have sold me, though, and I will check out one of the other two that you recommended.



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