The Road Home – Book Review

roadhomeHe tugged out the photograph, tugged with trembling hands, and set it down on the bar top. And he looked at it and saw that it had faded. All the once-bright colors were vanishing, leaving only a trace of themselves, tinged with green, with the bluish green of the sky…when evening was coming…the sky behind Auror… – from The Road Home, page 237 –

Lev is 43 years old and forced to leave his rural East European town to seek work in London. He has been widowed (his young wife Marina having died from Leukemia) and must support his daughter Maya and his elderly mother who remain behind in Russia. Lev barely speaks English and is at first bewildered by London. But Lydia, a woman he meets on the train, helps him find a job working in a posh restaurant where he meets the sexy Sophie. Lev eventually finds lodging with an Irishman named Christy Slane who is also experiencing loss.

Then he looked at Christy, standing in the doorway, as though not wanting to come into the room, his hands held at his sides in a helpless way, and Lev was transfixed for a moment, recognizing something of himself in the other man, some willingness to surrender and not fight, some dangerous longing for everything to be over. – from The Road Home, page 77 –

He was gradually coming to understand that the Irishman’s loneliness was nearly as acute as his own. They were the same kind of age. They both longed to return to a time before the people they loved most were lost. – from The Road Home, page 80 –

Lev’s story is painful at times. He misses Marina – cannot seem to get past the loss of her – and struggles to save money to send home to his daughter and mother. His future seems hopeless and he misses his country and his best friend, Rudi – a gregarious man whose love affair with an American Chevy and his fondness for life make him immediately endearing.

Rudi was everything this story made him out to be – and more. He was a force of nature. He was a lightning bolt. He was a fire that never went out. – from The Road Home, page 277 –

It is largely Lev’s friendship with men like Christy and Rudi which elevates him past his grief and imbues him with hope. When Lev recalls a hiking trip with Rudi to an isolated cave shortly after Marina’s death, the reader begins to see there will be a future for him after all.

It was at this moment – with Rudi halfway up the ladder – that he heard himself whispering to his friend, “Don’t look down…don’t look back…” and he felt that he suddenly understood why Rudi had brought him here and that the thing he had to embrace was the idea of perseverance. – from The Road Home, page 127 –

The Road Home is a character driven novel about loss and identity. It is a novel which reminds the reader that the past must sometimes be left behind in order to move forward. Dreams are the fuel for overcoming obstacles in this story of a man who must leave his home in order to find it again. Lev is a dreamer and a romantic. He is a character who readers want to see succeed, a man whose flaws are surpassed by his kind and vulnerable heart.

Rose Tremain has yet to disappoint me – I’ve read Music and Silence (reviewed here) and The Colour (reviewed here) and found them both outstanding. Tremain’s novels are written with sensitivity and insight into the human condition – and The Road Home is perhaps her finest work.  This novel won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2008.

Highly recommended.


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    • Kathy on January 17, 2009 at 09:08

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book too. I bought The Colour after I read it, but haven’t gotten to it yet.

  1. Looks like another good one. You’ve been having a winning streak with books lately and adding to my never ending list of must read books. 🙂

  2. Rose Tremain is one of those authors I think I would enjoy reading, but haven’t yet picked up one of her books. Actually, I think I might own The Colour but have no idea where it is..

  3. I really liked the excerpts you chose to post. They drew me to this story very much. Your review was really informative and I’ve been wanting to read some Orange books this year. I’m definitely adding this one to my list. Thanks for the great review!

    • Teddy on January 17, 2009 at 21:25

    What a wonderful review! I have heard nothing but great things about this novel and itn is on my TBR.

    The only book I’ve read by Rose Treman was Restoration. I DNF, but it sounds like just a one off.

    • lenore on January 18, 2009 at 01:45

    I have heard great things about this one. Will have to pick it up!

    • Wendy on January 18, 2009 at 17:15

    Kathy: I loved The Colour – but I think I would give the edge to this one. But, I’m really being picky here – all her books (so far) have been awesome.

    Amy: I love that I am reading so many great books these days!

    Michelle: I think you would enjoy Tremain. Her writing is so gorgeous and her characters are so amazingly developed.

    Staci: I hope you’ll like this one – and I’m glad I was able to tempt you!

    Teddy: Thank you! I have not heard terrific things about Restoration (I haven’t read that one yet)…most people who love Tremain say that was their least favorite. I hope you’ll enjoy her next book better!

    Lenore: Hope you’ll love it!

  4. How interesting that the covers of our two different editions are such a contrast!

    • Wendy on March 6, 2010 at 08:27

    Lisa: I love seeing the different covers depending on where the book is published and WHEN it is published. I always wonder about the decision making re: covers!

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