Thursday, 17 March 2011

Trespass by Rose Tremain


DATE READ: March 2011

NOTES: Set in the Cevennes regions of south-east France Trespass has two separate narratives both based on siblings. Anthony Verey’s antiques business in failing and he seeks solace with his sister Veronica who has moved to France with her partner Kitty. His plan is to buy a house and settle there. Aramon Lunel lives in a large decrepit farmhouse that he has inherited from his father. His sister Audron was only left a small portion of the land on which she has built a small modern (and ugly) bungalow. Aramon, an alcoholic, decides to sell his house as he is led to believe that he will get an enormous price for it but soon realises that his sister’s bungalow is a blot on the landscape. He has no qualms about turning her out of her home.

This is a fascinating story of sibling rivalry, jealousy, greed and inheritance. The “trespass” of the title occurs throughout the narrative. Anthony is trespassing on his sister’s relationship. Kitty hates his presence and is desperate for him to go. In her turn Veronica resents Kitty trying to come between her and her beloved brother. And the memory of their long dead mother continues to trespass into the thoughts of both of them.

Much more sinister “trespasses” have occurred in the past of the Lunel family. But now Aramon views his sister as a block on his future fortunes, while she in turn vows to remain on the family land. Another more subtle trespass is the influx of foreigners buying up French property.

As we have come to expect from Rose Tremain this is a beautifully written and cleverly constructed novel. It begins with a child’s scream but we are not told why until over halfway through the book. The atmosphere of France is brilliantly conveyed and all the characters believable (if not likeable!).

I was not entirely happy about the redemptive ending which I thought was lacking in credibility but this was nonetheless a great read.

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