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An electrifying novel about disputed territory, sibling love, and devastating revenge from the celebrated author of The Road Home and Restoration.
In a silent valley in southern France stands an isolated stone farmhouse, the Mas Lunel. Aramon, the owner, is so haunted by his violent past that he's become incapable of all meaningful action, letting his hunting dogs starve and his land go to ruin. Meanwhile, his sister Audrun, alone in her modern bungalow within sight of the Mas ...

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An electrifying novel about disputed territory, sibling love, and devastating revenge from the celebrated author of The Road Home and Restoration.
In a silent valley in southern France stands an isolated stone farmhouse, the Mas Lunel. Aramon, the owner, is so haunted by his violent past that he's become incapable of all meaningful action, letting his hunting dogs starve and his land go to ruin. Meanwhile, his sister Audrun, alone in her modern bungalow within sight of the Mas Lunel, dreams of exacting retribution for the unspoken betrayals that have blighted her life. Into this closed world comes Anthony Verey, a wealthy but disillusioned antiques dealer from London. When he sets his sights on the Mas, a frightening and unstoppable series of consequences is set in motion.
"Rose Tremain's writing is so good, she makes us hear English anew," writes the San Francisco Chronicle. This powerful and unsettling new work reveals yet another dimension to Tremain's extraordinary imagination.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Two pairs of siblings and their twisted pasts converge in this gripping, dark novel from Orange Prize-winner Tremain (The Road Home). In the southern French Cévennes region, Audrun lives a peaceful if bitter life in a small bungalow a stone's throw from her family home. She's been cast out, either by inheritance or some terrible transgression; her drunken, spiteful brother, Aramon, who still resides there, hopes to sell the home to foreign tourists, an act that would further uproot Audrun. Meanwhile, Anthony Verey, a once-renowned London antiques dealer, having reached an existential precipice, descends on his sister, Veronica, who lives near the Cévennes with her lover, Kitty. As Anthony and Kitty quietly battle for Veronica's affections, Audrun and Aramon struggle with their history and land. Anthony wants a home in the region, hoping it will fill his void, and he joins the wave of foreigners hungrily circling the area. Soon, a series of rash decisions impacts all of their lives in brutal, unforgettable ways. Tremain renders this untamed area with haunting prose, but the affecting sense of dread she builds makes her tale at times unrelentingly grim. (Oct.)
The New York Times Book Review
“A dark and unflinching novel.... Tremain knows how to work the authorial searchlight... She grabs her readers by their ankles and dangles them over the abyss. She spares us nothing and she never lets us go.”
Library Journal
Two pairs of siblings, all in late middle age, are set on a trajectory to collide with one another. The English Vereys meet the French Lunels in the Cévennes region of southern France. Anthony Verey is winding down his once successful career as a dealer in fine antiques now that the bottom has fallen out of the market. On a visit to his sister and her lesbian lover, he makes the fateful decision to buy a home nearby. This puts him in the direct path of Aramon and Audrun, a brother and sister who share an inherited property and whose relationship has been poisoned by years of sexual abuse perpetrated by the brother. He now wants to sell the old stone house left to him by their parents while his sister schemes to get it from him. VERDICT No Tremain novel is like any other. This one is much darker but no less compelling than the celebrated The Road Home. Read her for her lushly descriptive settings, her deeply flawed but intensely interesting characters, and her imaginative plots. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/10.]—Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont.
Kirkus Reviews

Two very different sets of siblings, one French, one English, seek resolution to their fraught upbringings and present discontent in this latest tale of intertwining lives from Tremain (The Road Home, 2008, etc.).

When his success as a London antiques dealer wanes, Anthony Verey, solitary but for his sexual proclivity for young men, travels to southern France where his sister, Veronica, lives and gardens with her partner and lover, Kitty, while writing a book titled Gardening without Rain that Kitty, a mediocre watercolorist, intends to illustrate. Anthony decides, much to the dismay of his sister's lover, to purchase property nearby. His interest falls on the Lunel family homestead, where the Lunel siblings live locked in antipathy—the alcoholic Aramon in the filth and decay of the family's once fine home, and his sister, Audrun, relegated to a squalid cottage beside the wood that is her meager birthright. Aramon plans to sell the house to a rich foreigner, and Audrun, tired of cleaning up his messes, loathes him for his mistreating his land, property and animals, but most of all for plotting to convert their home into cash. The proximity of Audrun's cottage to the Mas Lunel is an obstacle to its sale and so he contests their property boundaries. Audrun wishes Aramon dead; Kitty has similar hopes for Anthony, who has proven himself an apple of discord thrown into their paradisiacal existence. As the dry mistral desiccates the landscape, tensions strain until, quite suddenly, Anthony disappears. Tremain sensually, intricately depicts the landscape, gardens and woods of southern France. The author's latest is worth reading for its flights of interior narration and iridescent, vivid descriptions. There's a solid story to boot.

A well-executed, intense tale of dark family secrets coming to light in a sunny place.

David Leavitt
…dark and unflinching…Like Howards End, Trespass proves that the vagaries of real estate can make for dramatic fiction…Trespass is a precision-tooled novel. The author of 15 works of fiction…Tremain knows how to work the authorial searchlight, which in this case she keeps squarely directed at the question of expropriation: literal (Aramon's desperate ploy to get Audrun out of her bungalow); emotional (Anthony's hijacking of Veronica away from Kitty); sexual (Audrun's abuse at the hands of her father and brother); and cultural (a local mayor's campaign to stop wealthy foreigners from buying up all the region's country houses).
—The New York Times
Jane Smiley
…a Gothic novel, dark and eerie…Tremain is as ambitious as her better known male compatriots. She seems ready to try any form, any style, even any worldview, but she is more controlled and more subtle than they are, a Haydn rather than a Beethoven. She disappears into the work, not readily revealing herself, except through her insights into characters, events and settings, and through her subtle wit…With luck, Trespass will entice American readers to experience the riches and wisdom of Rose Tremain's large and varied body of work. She is a maestro.
—The Washington Post
The Barnes & Noble Review

Globalization and economic dislocation provided the circumstances for Rose Tremain's last novel, the Orange Prize-winning The Road Home. That was the moving and ultimately celebratory story of an economic immigrant to London, who had fled the destruction of the timber industry -- and the collapse of the sole employer -- in his native region of a former Eastern Bloc country. The dissolving effect of the global market on not only communities but the sanity of their inhabitants is behind events in Trespass, Tremain's ingeniously wrought new novel, a story of two pairs of siblings and a nice, juicy murder.

Set in southern France in the first decade of the present century, the novel is, in part, a story of affluent international desire, of the will to possess the substance and beauty of the past: not only works of art, but dwellings and landscapes themselves. One such place is Mas Lunel in the Cévennes, a stone farmhouse originally flanked by two extensions that sheltered farm animals and silk worms. They have been torn down, sold off as roof tiles and stones. Absent their buttressing support, the house has developed a growing fissure -- as emblematic as anything could be of the disintegrating effect of destroying a traditional economy.

The owner of Mas Lunel lives there alone and in filth. He is Aramon Lunel, a slothful drunk who has, however, become suddenly animated by a real-estate agent's promise that the house and surrounding terraced vineyard will fetch 450,000 euros. While he revels in the idea of untold riches, his sister, Audrun, 64, lives an orderly if limited life in a jerry-built bungalow in sight of the house. A terrible past of abuse by both her unsavory father and brother has culminated in her being disinherited from her former home. Her brother's squalid existence revolts and pains her, but his blackest sin, worse in her mind than his failure to feed his caged dogs, is his neglect of the house.

With the fissure plastered over to merely cosmetic effect, a potential buyer emerges in Anthony Verey, brother to Veronica Verey, a garden designer living in France within sight of the Cévennes with her lover, Kitty, a water colorist. Anthony was once the leading antique dealer in London, but now, a jaded 64 years old, he feels diminished, just as, in his eyes, England is too: "It was as though the land had tired of the way its variety and complexity kept being ignored by man, and had decided to brand itself with just the few, dull species everybody would recognize. Fifty years from now, there would be only blackbirds and gulls and stinging nettles and grass."

All Anthony really cares about now are a few of his antique artifacts and these he calls his beloveds. Foremost among them is an eighteenth-century Aubusson tapestry depicting a group of stylish men and women lounging under the shade of a tree attended by servants. But some mischievous needle worker of yore has hidden an old woman in the foliage at the edge of the tapestry; here she watches the happy scene with a look of malevolence. This, you may gather, is a novel that is free with its portents.

Mas Lunel fills Anthony with desire: the house could be fixed up, its magnificent beams cleaned, a swimming pool added; it's perfect -- but for the sight of Audrun's tacky bungalow. Sadly he reflects that "all the still-beautiful places were blighted by their nearness to some other thing you didn't wish to see or hear or have to think about. Audrun's feelings toward her brother become panicked hatred as he attempts to sell the house and raze her own, an eyesore and deal breaker. Visions of murdering him dance in her head.

And there are other murderous fantasies abroad. Anthony's reluctance to countenance the aesthetically unpleasing extends to his sister's lover, Kitty. She's unprepossessing, a lousy painter, and he doesn't like her at all. The feeling is mutual. Neglected by Veronica when Anthony's around, Kitty contemplates the possibilities of his accidental death.

An air of obliviousness to one's trespasses, an ignorance that is in some cases a form of innocence, pervades this novel. These people, whose lives and characters Tremain conjures up with real deftness and dispatch, are acting in a world that is increasingly unsatisfactory, economically and culturally, its material substance undermined by economic forces, its history marketed as a commodity. For a while it seemed a little curious to find the elements of a murder mystery spliced into what is a sophisticated work of fiction; in the end, it is immensely entertaining and ghoulishly satisfying.

--Katherine A. Powers

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393079562
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/18/2010
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Rose Tremain's best-selling novels have won many awards, including the Orange Prize (The Road Home), the Whitbread Novel of the Year (Music & Silence), the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Prix Femina Etranger (Sacred Country). Restoration was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1989 and made into a film in 1995. She lives in Norfolk and London with the biographer Richard Holmes.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    Very good

    Loved this book. A simple who's done it made very special by its writing style.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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