Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Rose-Tremain
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
review 2017-05-14 06:44
Book Review: The Swimming Pool Season by Rose Tremain
The Swimming Pool Season - Rose Tremain

As always, Rose Tremain's characters have a way of sneaking up on you as you read. The gentle meandering through intersecting lives overshadows the slow moving story because, really, it's ofetn not the story that makes Tremain's writing addictive, but the depth and complexity of her characters. THE SWIMMING POOL SEASON is filled with very human characters - Larry & Miriam, Gervaise & Klaus, Nadia, Xavier and many more, are the story -their strengths, their fears, their hopes and their losses, their (at times hopeless) search for love, were what kept me reading.


However, the book (written in 1985) did have a "dated" feel to it and at times the darker hopelessness of ordinary lives made the book far too melancholy. The ending, too, was a bit unsatisfactory. An enjoyable read overall, but doesn't match the brilliance of The Colour or Music & Silence  [This review is for the Kindle edition]

Like Reblog Comment
review 2017-02-04 05:57
Book Review: The Cupboard by Rose Tremain
The Cupboard - Rose Tremain

Takes patience and time to let the author unravel the complex threads of the stories within stories. These could have perhaps been unravelled a bit quicker as I found the pace slow. Not as enjoyable as The Colour or Music & Silence, both of which are magnificent works by Rose Tremain. Her writing is as great as ever though - the characters very real and Tremain captured the rambling quality of an 87 year old woman's conversation very well.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2016-11-07 13:08
Book Review: Letters to Sister Benedicta by Rose Tremain
Letter to Sister Benedicta - Rose Tremain

Nearly 200 pages of predominantly prose, with little dialogue and white space, and yet, I could hardly put the book down.


Different to the other Rose Tremain's I've read & loved (particularly The Colour and Music & Silence), the Letters to Sister Benedicta trace the inner rambles of Ruby's fracturing self after a traumatic year bringing her safe, ordinary and quietly unhappy life tumbling down. That destruction ultimately frees Ruby to begin a journey of self-discovery.


We don't get to see that journey, only the events leading up to Ruby's first tentative steps outside the cocoon of her previous life in which she was smothered by personalties far less sensitive and far more selfish than she. Her parents, mean & miserable with their fading memories of previous glory; her urine soaked grandmother in the crumbling manor house; her domineering & unfaithful husband; her ghastly mother in law- an eternal victim; her morally bankrupt children; her weak English lover, supplanted in his wife's affections by a swarthy skinned & passionate foreigner and the ominously silent Sister Benedicta all play their part in deepening the confusion Ruby experiences around who she is and what kind of life she's capable of living.


On the surface, this is a novel of hope, but there's an oppressive thread of melancholy interwoven in this story. Ruby, too, is so passive, so very smothered by her lack of self-love and her desire to please/help everyone but herself that even the beginning of her Great Adventure at the end of the book leaves one with a niggling doubt that, here too, she fell into that path rather than actively choosing it for herself.


This short but complex story has excellent characterisations and provokes deep thinking - Ruby, in her self-destructive passivity, having been so cowed & diminished by the "soldiers" in her life, is the perfect analogy for the countries colonised under Queen Victoria's push towards the Great British Empire: India, in particular, as India is where Ruby & her parents lived, but also Zimbabwe & South Africa, all left with a low self-esteem about their abilities, their true natures and their warm vibrant passions so unlike the cold superiority of the colonising western empire. In Ruby's ambivalence about Leon's dying - her almost unrecognised longing for freedom, buried in her Pavlovian responses of sacrificing her identity & her needs to serve her dying husband, and in her first tentative steps towards an independent self-hood free of the smothering rules and demands so alien to her true nature, I see an echo of the path previously colonised countries had to walk when the conquering soldiers finally left.


Another gem from Rose Tremain, even if its depths are not immediately clear in the quiet ordinariness of Ruby's sad existence.


Memorable quotes:


"Leon had such a sure sense of his own identity and was so absolutely purposeful in all that he did, that within a very short time I had put away most of myself"


"Godmother Louise being “a good Marxist” and found it rather strange. I think I decided that she was only a good Marxist deep down in her soul and that she let the rest of herself be rather a bad Marxist. And the bad Marxist in her kept on and on going to five-star hotel rooms where enormous bouquets arrived “courtesy of the management” and where she sipped away, guiltless, at the finest champagne a bourgeois capitalist society can produce. At least she had been right about India. Her loathing for the idea of empire had been as strong as Queen Victoria’s love of it. She despised my parents for their snobbishness and their loveless ways. It was a kind of sickness, she said, their terrible pride and reserve, and I must be cured of it. I must forget the school for the daughters of the high-ranking officers, no longer think of myself as a daughter of a high-ranking officer, or even as a Catholic, because these were the masks to hide behind and until I threw them away, these masks, threw them away and never put them on again, I wouldn’t know myself. “This is why so many of us are lost, Ruby,” she said, “this is why your mother and father are so lost: they are crouching down behind their masks; they believe they are their masks and without them they will be nothing!”"


"No one in India seemed to have a feeling for helpfulness, only a feeling for what is right, and it took me a long time to see that almost everything they thought was right was actually not all that right, but in fact rather wrong. And this deficiency in helpfulness, I mean, I’ve had it all my life and I blame India, but who can say if it was India or if it wasn’t born in me..."

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2016-09-29 11:27
The Impossibility Of Neutrality
The Gustav Sonata: A Novel - Rose Tremain

The Gustav Sonata is the story of a friendship between the mild-mannered and self-effacing Gustav Perle and the highly talented but volatile Anton Zweibel. It begins in Switzerland in the nineteen thirties with the courtship and marriage of Gustav's parents, the looming threat of invasion by Nazi Germany, and the dilemma of Anton's father, the deputy police chief of the small town of Matzlinger who is ordered to deport Jewish refugees but cannot bring himself to do so.


Gustav's father's decision will ultimately precipitate the collapse of his marriage, a catastrophe from which Gustav's mother will never truly recover and the blame for which she will unreasonably project onto her son.


Unloved at home, Gustav finds solace with the family of his school friend, Anton, whose comfortable bourgeois life offers so many more possibilities than his mother's constricted world. Ironically, the Zweibels are Jewish and in Gustav's mother's eyes, they are the very people who have caused her so much trouble.


Despite Gustav's mothers hostility, Gustav and Anton remain friends. When they grow up Gustav becomes the owner of a hotel and Anton, a precociously talented pianist as a child, becomes a dis-satisfied music teacher. Then, late in life, an opportunity for Anton to find success as a performer beckons and he leaves Matzlinger in search of fame It is a decision that provokes a crisis in both their lives.


At a micro-level the focus of this novel is on the particular, the tiny details that acquire significance over the course of a life. At a macro-level it is concerned with the choices that confront both individuals and institutions, and the consequences that attend those choices  That's all interesting fictional territory without a doubt, but the plot meanders too much for my money and the narrative seems to lack any real centre. I have enjoyed many of Rose Tremaine's novels but this one did not hit the spot for me. The Gustav Sonata: A Novel - Rose Tremain  

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2016-05-16 00:35
Which book title(s) on your shelves describe you?
Blonde - Joyce Carol Oates
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - Carson McCullers
Here be Dragons - Sharon Kay Penman
The Warrior Queens: The Legends and the Lives of the Women Who Have Led Their Nations in War - Antonia Fraser
No Man's Nightingale - Ruth Rendell
To Each His Own (Black & White) - Leonardo Sciascia
Dreamcatcher - Stephen King
A Room of One's Own - Virginia Woolf
Searching for Shakespeare - Stanley Wells,James Shapiro,Marcia Pointon,Tarnya Cooper
Music & Silence - Rose Tremain

Thanks to Bookloving Writer and Olga for starting this one.  Alright, here we go:


Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

... in a series of bullet points.


Physical Features:

Dark Blonde with The Bluest Eye (well, blue eyes, anyway ;) )


Personality / Attitude:

* The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and a Deep River, where Here be Dragons

* Perfectly happy to remain Miss Lonelyhearts and a Lonesome Dove

* One of The Warrior Queens, thoroughly familiar with The Art of War

* Catering to Nobody and No Man's Nightingale

* Plain Speaker with plenty of Resolution, giving others A Test Of Wills and Face Off with them on anything that matters to me, or to ward off an Invasion of Privacy

* However, big On Liberty and generally speaking, ready to give everybody A Place Called Freedom and To Each His Own, and to Let the Great World Spin

* Dreamcatcher, given to Reveries of the Solitary WalkerFlights of the Mind

and a Celebration of Being

* Though lately a bit wearied by The Way of the World and therefore occasionally in need of A Place of Safety 

* And if something is over or hasn't worked out: Walk On


* Freedom

* A Room of One's Own

* Silence, and A Time to Keep Silence

* One Hundred Years of Solitude (or to be able to lose myself in The Labyrinth of Solitude)



* Searching for Shakespeare: Will & Me: How Shakespeare Took Over My Life (Living in a Shakespearean World)

Books in general, but particularly The Great Books: This Reader won't ever forget How Reading Changed My Life  from early childhood on

Cats, Cats, Cats


Other Likes and Loves:

* ars musica and the right combination of Music & Silence

* Moviegoer

World History: A Dance to the Music of Time

* Journeys of a Lifetime

* My California: There is Nothing Like the Sun, The Sea, The Mountains of California, and my very own L.A. Confidential

* Travel Photography (and photography in general)

R is for Rose

* Tea at Fortnum & Mason (or at home or, heck, anywhere, actually)

Whisky in Your Pocket ... or preferably, in a tumbler or a Glencairn glass, actually ...


By Day:

The Lost Lawyer, in pursuit of A Certain Justice


Random Other Bits:

* A person with two Mother Tongues; the one I was born with (German) and an adopted one (English)

* Zodiac (Western): Libra


More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?