I did not like any of the characters in the story. They all had miserable lives and many regrets. The underlying story about foreigners purchasing farmland in southern France for vacation homes and not respecting the ancient culture of respect and care of the land is somewhat interesting.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Dark tale of outsiders and the land set in Southern FranceApril 23 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
A tale of siblings, territory and revenge set in the South of France, this is a dark tale and the reader is kept in suspense about the nature of the tragic events until late in the book. It's also about people's relationship to the land and outsiders trespassing on this and on each other's lives.
Set in the hills of Southern France, Trespass is a novel about sibling love and rivalry, disputed territory and ultimately revenge. In the French corner are Aramon Lunel, resident of the Mas Lunel, and his sister Audrun who lives in a cottage in the grounds. In the English corner are Veronica Verey, a garden designer, and her partner, an untalented watercolourist, Kitty. The catalyst that brings these together is the arrival in France of Anthony Verey, Veronica's sister whose exclusive antiques business in London is failing and who decides to follow his sister in finding a new life in France. Aramon is tempted to sell his family Mas by the lure of `foreign' money even if that means that his sister's house has to be destroyed to secure the deal.
Multi-award winning Rose Tremain is a fascinating novelist because each of her books is very different. If anything ties them together it is the approach of from unexpected angles and a focus on unglamorous outsiders. Trespass is no exception - it's full of outsiders and they are always not easy to love. In fact, apart from the poor little school girl, Mélodie, who is left screaming at a gruesome discovery at the end of the first chapter (which we don't find out about for another 200 pages), it's difficult to feel much empathy of affection for any of the cast of characters.
Of course in real life, the obvious course for an antiques dealer in need of cash would be to turn up on day time TV selling tat in various auction rooms. Thankfully, Tremain takes Anthony Verey to the Cévennes hills. Of course, Tremain is not the first to set a book in the South of France, using the beauty of the land and the mysterious impact of the Mistral wind to bring disaster.
At times, some of her characters veer dangerously towards cliché. Why, for example, does Anthony need to have a penchant for young boys for example? It adds nothing to the story. His character is much more subtly portrayed by his amusing habit of appraising the history of every piece of furniture he encounters.
The story has a palpable sense of darkness about it. You know something bad is going to happen from the first chapter, but it's not clear what this is going to be or even to whom it will occur. Once it is clear what has happened, the culprit is not that much of a surprise but again, it's not clear if he or she will get away with it.
The book has important things to say about the clash of cultures and the whole importance of our relationship to the land. It's the English who are trespassing on French land, but also people who are trespassing on each other's lives.
I have to say that it's not my favourite of Tremain's books, but she's such an exciting writer that it's still a very good read. It's perhaps more unsettling and darker than her other books, and it keeps you guessing about the directions it's going to take. And I am still wondering about how poor Mélodie coped with her shocking discovery.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Dark and haunting quickly became unrelentingly grimDec 28 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
This book tells a dark tale of the trespasses we visit upon one another, as well as those we commit against the land we walk and the world in which we live. On the one hand are Aramon and Audrun, on the other Anthony Verey and his sister Veronica. The lives of these four intersect when Anthony travels to France to visit Veronica, and then sets his sights on buying the Mas Lunel. All of these characters are over sixty years old, and all are living as much in a more vibrant past as in their dismal present day.
Tremain's prose is haunting, her language lyrical and descriptive and at the same time somehow sparse. The darkness in her characters' hearts is palpable to the reader, as is their growing despair. I found the novel to be at times unrelentingly grim, however, and though I was engaged in the story, I was more than ready to finish and shelve the book. I give it 3 stars - for the quality of the writing and for the power of the haunting feelings I was left with long after I was finished reading.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
a trespass of land, emotion and personal boundariesOct. 5 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
I really like the introductory blurb in the book: "Set among the hills and gorges of the Cevennes, the dark and beautiful heartland of southern France, Trespass is a thrilling novel about disputed territory, sibling love and devastating revenge."
I feel foolish because Trespass is the first Rose Tremain novel I've read, and I absolutely adored her prose:
"Disdain--born out of a specialist knowledge, or what he thought of as a secret knowledge--was a habit perfected over forty years, and was now one of the few pleasures left to him." (p. 11)
I didn't know too much about this novel going into it, and the initial chapters all introduced different characters. I tend to really enjoy novels with seemingly unconnected characters whose paths cross. As a reader, you expect it, but I cherish that feeling of knowing more than the characters do. Tremain skillfully let the reader in on things the characters were oblivious to, but she also let the characters keep a few secrets from the reader.
I adored this novel. I was fascinated by the characters (and Tremain's descriptions of them), I loved the cadence of the prose, and I was amazed at the depth of theme. It's rare for me to picture myself writing an English paper about a novel, but I found myself scribbling notes on theme from the novel's early pages. The trespass in the title is one of land, emotion and personal boundaries. Tremain examines the notion of trespass from so many different perspectives:
'Anything that has existence can be stolen or destroyed. So you must be vigilant.' (p. 15)
The novel is set in southern France, and its first chapter comes from the perspective of a young girl who is new to the town. The reader first sees the landscape through the eyes of an outsider, but as the novel continues, the landscape becomes a character itself. The imagery of both the land and the people were incredibly gothic and mysterious. The land holds as many secrets as the characters.
"Even here, where life went along more slowly than in England, she could sense the restless agitation people felt to make real and tangible to them the fugitive wonders that flickered into their minds." (p. 72)
I loved both the story and its deeper thematic ideas. Trespass is an accessible literary novel with immense death. It's rare I want to reread a book as soon as I finish it, but I'm certain there are more subtleties and clues I've overlooked.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
"Why don't lovers understand better the damage trespass can do?"Sept. 29 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
Tremain's insightful novel is set in southern France, a drama evoked by the relationships of two sets of siblings. Aramon Lunel occupies Mas Lunel in the heavily forested countryside, the cultivation of silkworms of its earlier years lost to the past. Aramon's sister, Audren, occupies a homely building on the edge of her brother's property, as victimized as an adult as she was as a child, given to "episodes" that require medication. Veronica Verey, a garden designer, occupies Les Glaniques with her life partner, Kitty, their home lush with Veronica's spectacular gardenscape. Veronica's brother, Anthony, a noted antiques dealer in London, has reached a crisis in his life, leaning on his older sister for support as he considers a major move to France. All of these characters are over sixty, each set of siblings with defining histories, soon to cross the boundaries of one another's lives through Anthony's new venture.
Mining the personalities of her major protagonists, the author strikes a rich vein: Aramon Lunel eager to profit from his inheritance after plundering its beauty, savoring the opportunity to further antagonize his long-suffering sister; small in stature and voice, Audren has been trampled by a family made more intransigent by her mother's death, at the mercy of a brutally insensitive father and brother; the accomplished, confidant Veronica Verey content with her relationship with Kitty until the arrival of her beloved brother; and Anthony Verey, anxious to reinvent himself, leaving behind but a few of the possessions he calls "my beloveds" and the ever less frequent evenings with virile young men. Perhaps it is age that lends this novel its emotional impact, the unbreakable bonds of loyalty and the ease of betrayal, Tremain's exploration of childhood memory tangled with the insecurity of diminishing years: "Old age comes in short flurries. Between the flurries... there's a sort of respite." Seeking this respite, Anthony becomes a catalyst for conflict.
The author creates a symphony of image and sound, the sigh of a breeze in the forest at night, the hush of rain on a parched garden, the "little twist of agony in her heart" when Kitty realizes Veronica will always choose Anthony over her, ultimately, "the damage of trespass", when balance is breached, harmony destroyed, revenge extracted. As layered as the dark secrets in her characters' hearts, this is a novel to be savored for its language and piercing revelations, the savage economy of a brother's cruelties, the elastic bonds of affection planted in childhood, even a shocking discovery by a little girl who stumbles upon horror. Tremain's work grows richer, her rendering of humanity both poignant and terrifying in its accuracy. Luan Gaines/2010.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Rose Tremain does it againFeb. 3 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
The first chapter ends with a little girl seeing something in a forest pool. "Then she starts screaming."
What she saw will not be revealed until very near the end of the book, but the echoes of that sentence set up a sense of unease which will not leave the reader.
The story is about a once handsome but now decayed old stone building, a `mas', on a hill in the depth of the Cévennes. Symbolically, its wings have been demolished and in its central part the front wall has running down it a fissure which has not been repaired but has simply been hidden under a coat of plaster.
An elderly Englishman is looking for a place to buy and do up. The mas seems ideal to him. The owner of the mas is eager to sell, not caring that his sister, living in a mean little bungalow within its sight, was due to inherit it.
We are given memorable portraits of the owner and his sister - characters that seem to come out of Maupassant; of the Englishman; of his beloved sister with whom he was staying and who had made her home in a village near the mas with a woman friend; and of all the other people who figure in this novel, both living and dead. For every now and again thoughts of their past and of their long dead parents pass through the minds of all these people, and what is revealed is sad, often startling and increasingly horrifying. Intense hatreds are revealed - between the owner of the mas and his sister, between the Englishman and his sister's female lover - and the tension gradually mounts. The climax is unexpected - and is followed by a sad and exhausted coda.
All this is played out against the Cévennes countryside, its sights, smells, sounds and weather beautifully described. Nature herself is one of the characters in the story.