Weekly Geeks 2010-08: What is it About THAT Author?

E.H On Books and More asks us this week to talk about the authors we love:

  • Tell your readers what is it about “an” author that you are most passionate about, that have you coming back for more from them, following their every blog post – literally blackmailing people to read their books?
  • Who are some of your all time favourite authors?
  • And what is it about them that makes you keep going back for more?

Be as creative as you want with this topic, use excerpt if you wish to convey the authors style, Use pic as necessary and make your readers see why you love the authors you do.

There are many authors whose work I love and whose books I read as soon as a new one hits the bookstore. So it was a little difficult for me to pick just one author to highlight. Given that this month is Women’s History Month, I finally decided on one of my favorite female authors who leans towards historical fiction in her writing, although her writing could also easily be classified as literary fiction as well.

Rose Tremain

Rose Tremain (b. August 2, 1943) is an English author who has won many awards for her writing. She has published 11 novels, 3 short story collections, and 1 children’s book.

I am slowly working my way through Tremain’s work and, so far, have loved everything I have read by her. I thought that the best way to share with you what I love about Tremain’s writing, is to share some of the books I’ve read by her, including some notable quotes from them.

The Colour (published 2003)

This was my first Tremain novel … and it blew me away. Set in New Zealand, the story centers around a newly married couple. I wrote in my review: ‘The inhospitable and breathtaking land of New Zealand seems pitted against these people almost from the very first when Joseph mistakenly builds his home on an exposed hill instead of the protected flats. Then one day Joseph discovers gold dust in the creek near his home and keeps it a secret from both Harriet and Lilian. It becomes an obsession which promises his redemption and one which will finally drive him to the other side of the Southern Alps where a Gold Rush is underway.

There are multiple themes in this novel: the power of nature, love and desire, materialism vs. inner contentment, and the connection between cultures. But it was Tremain’s characterization of the women in the novel which I loved the most.

Some passages which demonstrate the beauty of Tremain’s writing:

Better that we never know (she wrote to her father) what lies beyond the next hill. For the answer might come back “nothing.” And I confess that, having travelled across the world, I do not feel I would be content with that “nothing.” My habit of looking at the mountains has not gone away. They are so fine. I wish that I could paint a picture of them for you. And they Contain a mystery: that is what I feel. And I ask myself: Is the mystery they contain the mystery of my life? -From The Colour, page 168-

For a few moments, the sun disappeared behind a cloud, and in the shadow, nothing of it was visible, only the shingly mud and the herringbone imprints of the ducks’ feet. But Joseph knew that he’d seen something. He stood without moving, waiting for the sun to come out again. It returned and sparkled on the water, dazzling him. He had to close his eyes for a second, and when he opened them again, he’d forgotten the precise spot where the colour had revealed itself. Then he saw it once more, a minute patch of shining yellow dust. -From The Colour, page 57-

Read my full review here.

Music and Silence (published 1999)

Music and Silence won Tremain best novel in the 1999 Whitbread Awards. Set in 17th century Denmark, this incredible novel is told from multiple points of view including that of Kirsten Munk who was the manipulative and unfaithful wife of King Christian IV. This is, in part, what I wrote about this sprawling medieval  novel: ‘In Tremain’s competent hands, this historical novel becomes a symphony of romantic twists and turns, and a saga which encompasses all the excesses and political intrigue of royal life in seventeenth century Europe. Tremain explores such complex themes as order vs. chaos, love vs. hate, dreams vs. reality, and betrayal vs. loyalty – all through the metaphor of music and silence.

In Tremain’s talented hands, Music and Silence transcends the historical fiction genre and becomes an extraordinary work of literature. Here is an Tremain’s description of a waterfall – the Isfoss – which has frozen solid, and the way King Christian imagines the tiny crystals of ice forming in the roaring water:

They acquire thickness, length and weight. The water is transparent clay, moulding them, layer upon layer, and as the layers accumulate, the roar of the river has become muffled. The human ear has to strain to hear it. And then, in the space of a single night, it falls silent. -From Music and Silence, page 107-

Read my full review here.

The Road Home (published 2008)

The Road Home won Tremain the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction Award in 2008, and for good reason. This beautifully written novel is about 43 year old Lev who is forced to leave his rural East European town to seek work in London after becoming a widow and single father. This is a moving character driven novel about loss and identity. And it is the character of Lev who sticks with the reader long after the final page has been turned. In my review I wrote: ‘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.

Although I loved the two previous novels enough to give them five star reviews, I believe The Road Home to be Tremain’s most accomplished novel which I have read. She writes flawlessly, with an insight into the human condition which touches the reader’s heart.

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 –

It was passages like this, which explore the meaning of friendship and hope within the context of Lev’s future, which made me truly appreciate Tremain’s writing.

Read my full review here.

Other books by Rose Tremain which I have not yet read, but hope to:

Novels:

  • Sadler’s Birthday (1976)
  • Letter to Sister Benedicta (1978)
  • The Cupboard (1981)
  • The Swimming Pool Season (1985)
  • Restoration (1989) and the screenplay for the 1996 film
  • Sacred Country (1992)
  • The Way I Found Her (1997)

Children’s Books:

  • Journey to the Volcano (1985)

Short Story Collections:

  • The Colonel’s Daughter and other stories (1983)
  • The Garden of the Villa Mollini and other stories (1987)
  • Evangelista’s Fan and other stories (1994)

Rose Tremain’s newest novel, Trespass, is due for release this year. The product description on Amazon reads:

In a silent valley stands an isolated stone farmhouse, the Mas Lunel. Its owner is Aramon Lunel, an alcoholic 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 Cévenol world comes Anthony Verey, a wealthy but disillusioned antiques dealer from London. Now in his sixties, Anthony hopes to remake his life in France, and he begins looking at properties in the region. From the moment he arrives at the Mas Lunel, a frightening and unstoppable series of consequences is set in motion. Two worlds and two cultures collide. Ancient boundaries are crossed, taboos are broken, a violent crime is committed. And all the time the Cévennes hills remain, as cruel and seductive as ever, unforgettably captured in this powerful and unsettling novel, which reveals yet another dimension to Rose Tremain’s extraordinary imagination.

Have you read any novels or short stories by Rose Tremain? If so, did you enjoy them? Which were your favorites? If you have not yet read anything by this author, have I tempted you to do so?

Visit this week’s Weekly Geeks to link up your post and see who other readers highlighted.

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13 comments

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  1. Wow! The only one of those books I’ve read is The Road Home – I had no idea Tremaine’s written so many books. I definitely need to investigate.

    • Gavin on March 10, 2010 at 16:41

    Wow, it is exciting to read this as I just brought my first Tremaine novel home from the library! It is The Road Home. Thanks, Wendy!

    • Cass on March 10, 2010 at 16:59

    Wow, what a thorough post! I’m in awe–this would have taken me hours. I hadn’t heard of Tremain before, but I just added The Colour to my TBR list. Good job.

    • Nicole on March 10, 2010 at 19:27

    I’ve never heard of Tremain, but she sounds great!

    • Aarti on March 10, 2010 at 19:42

    I really struggled with and eventually gave up on The Colour. I just didn’t find the male character in the least bit ok and had no desire to spend time with him. I have Music and Silence (somewhere, I think), but haven’t tried it yet. I shall 🙂

  2. What a cool post – I also didn’t realise that she wrote so many books..

    Glad she worked for you – I love it when an author just click with me – even when no one else gets it…

    A very detailed post…

    E.H>

  3. I own almost all of her novels but so far I have only read The Road Home. I have heard wonderful things about so many of her others, but don’t like reading too many books by the same author in a row. I plan to read The Trespass soon and then get on to her other novels later. Great post!

    • Lesley on March 11, 2010 at 08:36

    I’m a little scared to pipe up and say, but I’ve never read anything by her. So with that little confession out of the way, if you were to choose just one book by her that you’ve read as THE book people should read (or at least hte first one) which would it be?

    • Iris on March 11, 2010 at 11:22

    I have never read anything by Rose Tremain, but I think Music and Silence sounds really interesting. The other ones as well, but this one in particular caught my eye. Or is there any other book by her I should really read first?

    • Wendy on March 12, 2010 at 14:49
      Author

    Kathy: I am really glad there are still so many out there I have not yet read. I hate when I’ve read every book by a favorite author and then have to wait for them to publish again!

    Gavin: I hope you love The Road Home – can’t wait to read your review!

    Cass: Well I’m a little OCD that way *laughing* Actually this was really a fun post to put together. Hope you’ll enjoy The Colour!

    Nicole: Hope you’ll have time someday to check out one of her books 🙂

    Aarti: Sorry to hear you gave up on The Colour – I agree the male character was a pill…but the female character in that book really resonated with me. Hope you’ll like Music and Silence better – it is a really different book than The Colour.

    EH: Thanks! I love when I find an author whose books just pull me in…Tremain is one of many for me 🙂 I also LOVE Margaret Atwood.

    Jackie: Can’t wait to see your review of Trepass – I know I want to read that one soon. I also know what you mean about reading too many books by the same author in a row. I like to spread them out 🙂

    Lesley: Well I’ve only read three books by her so far…and my favorite so far (and perhaps the most accessible for most readers) would be The Road Home…so that would be my recommendation 🙂

    Iris: If you LOVE historical fiction – Music and Silence is a great first choice. But as I mentioned to Lesley, my favorite by Tremain so far is The Road Home…although I would classify that more on the Literary Genre end of the scale.

    • Pam on March 13, 2010 at 06:01

    This is a great post. I’m not usually a weekly geeks participant but I’ll have to go back to the original and check out others’ highlights. Thanks for the spotlight!

    • Ariel on March 14, 2010 at 14:18

    Music and Silence sounds phenomenal, especially since I am in a historical fiction sort of mood right now. And it is currently on my “unread” shelves (along with “The Colour”)! O frabjous day! Maybe I will bump it up the queue….

    • Wendy on March 15, 2010 at 17:33
      Author

    Pam: There are some really good posts for this theme – have fun!

    Ariel: Oh, definitely bump at least ONE of them up! Something tells me you will really like them both!

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