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Trespass by Rose Tremain

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Trespass by Rose Tremain

The novel Trespass by Rose Tremain opens with a young girl going on a school trip into the countryside of Southern France. The group is having a picnic on property belonging to Aramon and Audrun Lunel, brother and sister. Unhappy, the girl leaves the other children, and makes a startling, shocking discovery in a nearby creek. What it is will not be revealed until almost the end of the novel.

We then meet Anthony Verey, an art and antique dealer in London, England. Anthony, once feted by society, now finds himself something of a “has been”. Surrounded by his possessions he lives alone and wonders if he will ever again be envied by his peers. His sister, Veronica, lives with her partner, Kitty, in the South of France. Anthony decides he will buy a house there, sell up in London, take only his most beloved possessions and create his dream. He has a vision of a grand house, a grand view, the envy of all who will come to visit.

So, we have two sets of siblings whose present has been shaped by their pasts. Veronica is the only one who has managed to make a normal life for herself. She is separate from her brother, although she loves him and feels responsible for his welfare. Their relationship with their mother – especially Anthony’s, has shaped their adult lives. Anthony’s arrival into the home of Veronica and Kitty is disruptive but it is not at first divisive. Aramon and Audrun are also bound by their past – but neither has been able to prevent the darkness of their past from poisoning their adult lives. Aramon has inherited the family home and land, Audrun has a small plot with a bungalow on an adjoining property. They interact, seemingly unable to make the separation that they need in order to have any sort of future.

It is the Lunel family home, Mas Lunel, that Anthony decides he will purchase. Aramon is selling the house and property without his sister’s consent – it is his to do with as he wishes as sole owner.

Anthony then disappears. We don’t know if he is simply lost in the mountainous terrain – or if he has perished. Veronica does all that she can to discover what has happened to Anthony, and Kitty finds herself unable to accept that she has become unimportant in this situation.

This is a novel that makes the reader think about the relationships between the characters, between siblings, as events in the past are revealed. We think about the word “trespass” as it relates to the lives of the characters - the unacceptable, damaging crossing over of boundaries. There are events that cause both hate, and love, and connection between the siblings and the people that later come into their lives.

Trespass is not a mystery novel, but it has enough suspense, and a cast of characters, anyone of whom could be a murderer, to satisfy. I found it riveting, a literary novel and a “page turner” at the same time.

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