Sunday, May 1, 2011

Trespass by Rose Tremain

Trespassing has severe consequences

This was such a well constructed novel. I felt like I was in the hands of a master. The story is a puzzle, with mirrored characters and circumstances, and concerns two brother sister pairs, coming to the end of their lives, in the drought stricken south of France.

The English pair is Anthony and Veronica Verey; the French pair Aramon and Audrun Lunel. The French pair are certifiable, the English pair merely eccentric. The plot is that the rich Anthony, who has decided to leave his faltering antiques business, wishes to settle near his sister and her lover in the south of France. He would like to buy the Lunel’s house, or mas, but it seems that there is a family feud about ownership of the French property. Also, Veronica’s lover is not happy to see Anthony arrive.

An air of creepiness hangs over the story, established by the child’s scream at the end of the first chapter. The novel is not just about property disputes and surveyors lines and guests who stay too long – it’s about horrible crimes of omission and commission against innocent children. One technique was to reveal a memory and throughout the course of the novel return to that memory until the reader understands its full terrible scope.

What was humorous to me was how easily these supposedly dried up old women felt into murderous fantasies. Or murderous realities.

And finally, the prose was simple, beautiful and poetic.

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