The St John’s Wood Library Book Group selected Rose Tremain as our May read as a popular and respected writer who has a great capacity to write about a large variety of subjects.
Trespass is set in the historic silk making Cevennes mountains in south central France, but instead of presenting us with a romanticised vision of a rural idyll, Tremain gives us a rather grim insight into the incest, family abuse and emotional damage which affects the lives of a brother and sister, Aramon and Audrun, who live disharmoniously on the land of the remote mas where they grew up. Such disquieting content is brilliantly handled through Tremain’s descriptive writing which remains sumptuous and appealing throughout.
This concept of the everyday horror of misplaced possession is explored further through the character of Anthony Verey – a ‘past- it’ antiques dealer from London who yearns for happiness and suddenly seeks it near his sister and her partner Kitty in the Cevennes. Verey’s ultimate desire to buy a house in the mountains – the perfect aesthetic solution to his problems – causes him to meet Aramon and Audrun, and allows Tremain to demonstrate further how the ‘ties that bind’ can be continually broken and crossed through family, lovers, countries and the power of memory.
Tremain also centres on the power of love, home and childhood to be both the beacon and haunting of her characters’ existences as Audrun and Verey are obsessed with their memories of their mothers. This is an evocative and powerful novel which was certainly classed as a ‘page turner’ by the group, although not everyone was convinced by the suspense element of the plot or how well the two stories came together.