Review: Trespass, by Rose Tremain

In her latest book, Rose Tremain explores all facets of its one-word title:

trespass (noun)

1. Law

a. an unlawful act causing injury to the person, property, or rights of another, committed with force or violence, actual or implied.
b. a wrongful entry upon the lands of another.
c. the action to recover damages for such an injury.
2. an encroachment or intrusion.
3. an offense, sin, or wrong.

Trespass revolves around two brother/sister pairs.  Anthony Verey is an English antiques dealer whose business is failing.  To escape the stress he decides to visit his sister Veronica and her partner Kitty at their home in France.  The beautiful country setting inspires him to give up his business and relocate to a dream house in France.  He begins searching for the perfect house, and finds one in Aramon Lunel’s mas (farmstead).  Aramon inherited the property from his father, but has allowed it to fall into disrepair.  His sister Audrun lives in her own bungalow on adjacent land, and is less than pleased with Aramon’s desire to become rich by selling the mas.

But Anthony’s interest in the mas is only the most obvious trespass.  Tremain weaves a complex web of trespasses from parental abandonment to lovers’ quarrels to incest to violent crime, with disastrous cumulative effects.  The violent crime introduces a bit of mystery to the novel, but one that is pretty easy to figure out.  At first this annoyed me, but then I realized “whodunit” was not the point.  Rather, Tremain shows how childhood experiences shape the adult, and how trespasses — even minor ones — build over a lifetime, potentially into a pretty volatile brew.

This is a dark story, and with all that trespassing going on the characters are not particularly endearing.  But it makes for thought-provoking, worthwhile reading.

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5 thoughts on “Review: Trespass, by Rose Tremain

  1. I am surprised that you didn’t enjoy this one a bit more. It looks as though we had similar opinions on it. My main problem was that I didn’t connect with any of the characters – they were all horrible!!

    • It’s funny, Jackie, when you commented on Sunday I went to one of your wrap-up posts just to check your rating (I was already feeling like this was a 3.5-star read and I saw you felt that way too). After I finished the book, I re-read your review. I agree with you about the characters, they weren’t the least bit appealing. It was more of a psychological story, and good, but better character development would have made it great.

  2. 3.5 stars sounds about right to me. Some interesting ideas, and of course Rose Tremain can write, but I couldn’t care about the central characters either.

    The foundations were there, but I uspect that there may have been a bigger, better book to be built on them.

  3. I’ve been wanting to try this author for awhile now. The premise of this one sounds quite interesting and if I do read it, I’ll keep in mind how unlikeable the characters are–sometimes that doesn’t bother me and other times it does. It helps to be prepared!

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