Review by Hempnall Reading Group
Judge a book by its cover
This cover confused us. The picture of a little girl running into a wood seemed like the beginning of a children’s story (like Alice in Wonderland) but it was actually a representation of the end of the first chapter. It had no connection with the theme of the rest of the book, i.e. damaged people and their relationships. The name of the author in red seemed to be the important bit for the publisher.
Rose Tremain was known to some of us because of her local connections but most had not read any of her work.
Plot and setting (Beware Spoilers!)
The setting in the Cevennes was realistic and believable and we thought that it was well described and atmospheric. The nature of an old London antiques shop was recognisable but we were slightly concerned about the degree of description of the items in it. Nevertheless, those descriptions portrayed the owners character.
Despite the dramatic opening chapter, the book became about the relationships between three couples whose lives we were drawn into. Audrun and Aramon Lunel lived in France. Veronica and Kitty did as well (as ex-pats) and Anthony and Veronica were brother and sister.
The story line was relatively simple but the essence of the book lay in the relationship issues. Everyone was somehow damaged and trying to recover in their own way.
We were particularly impressed with the title, Trespass, as the book contained both trepass as related to property and also people trespassing into other peoples lives.
None of the characters was particularly endearing apart from a couple of minor ones. In fact they were pretty depressing.
All the main characters had historical issues which had damaged them. Each of them was trying to get away from their past in a manner which was probably too late to work.
Audrun wanted to regain her place of solace from her reclusive untidy drunken brother Aramon who lived in the big house and she in a bungalow in the grounds.
Veronica lived with her partner Kitty. Both of them were failing to achieve their ambitions in writing and painting and then Veronica’s brother Anthony turned up and effectively ended their relationship.
The fact of Anthony’s death had only a passing impact on the relationship issues and eventually the central location, Mas Lunel, was destroyed.
At the end, everybody’s life had changed from fantasy ambitions to reality. Audrun could live in peace in the woods, Aramon could live in peace in prison, Kitty was somewhere else and Veronica was back in London. Anthony was dead.
There was possibly some scope for a bit of happiness at the end. If Audrun had ended up with Raoul then it was not all doom and gloom but otherwise we were happy that Audrun had got away with her crime.
The author is a well-known graduate of the UEA creative writing school and therefore known to some. She seems to know the setting of the book well. Some of us had read other books of hers and enjoyed them. We would choose her again especially if we were looking for relationship-based stories rather than action-based ones.