Trespass by Rose Tremain

by |September 2, 2010

Trespass 9780701178017 Trespass opens with a young girl bullied away from a school picnic in a remote corner of the Cevennes in southern France. Longing for escape, she finds a woodland pool but her cooling swim turns to horror when she sees something unspeakable.

The sense of menace in Trespass is set from that opening scene. And it is not just the menace wrought by human hands. There is a palpable feeling throughout that the earth itself is alive, seeking, indeed reclaiming ,what was taken by those who trespassed.

Trespass tells the intersecting stories of two sets of brother and sister. Anthony Verey is an aging gay antique dealer from London who seeks respite with his sister Veronica. Veronica is a gardening writer living in the Cevennes, with her own lover, the untalented painter Kitty. Meanwhile, Aramon Lunel, the obsessive and violent alcoholic who is living amongst the ruins of his once prosperous inherited farm, decides to make his fortune by selling the farmhouse to the increasingly reclusive Englishman. His sister Audrun, who has experienced a lifetime of cruelty and drudgery, has other ideas.

This is a story about space, place, territory and the iron grip of the past. The characters are stalked by the memory of soil in the same way as those in Andrew McGahan’s The White Earth and Alex Miller’s Landscape of Farewell. I couldn’t put this book down.

Rose Tremain won the Orange Prize for The Road Home. She is sure to garner a wider audience with Trespass and it is no surprise that she is a favourite for the Man Booker.

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