The Colonel's Daughter, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


At the moment that Colonel Browne is standing in the shallow end of the swimming pool of the Hotel Alphenrose, preparing for his late afternoon dip, his daughter Charlotte, carrying a suitcase, is getting out of her car back in England, preparing to rob the ancestral home.

It is not just another day: it is the culmination of hundreds of days, hundreds of disappointments and misunderstandings, and thousands of very small lies...




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Another excellent and varied early collection of short stories from the versatile Ms Tremain. Set mainly in England, with one holidaying English couple in Florida and another story of English folk in France, these stories are full of emotion and there are good contrasts. I especially enjoyed the bleak but powerful story, Words with Marigold, which may have been bravura, but it worked for me.

Review by

In this early collection of short stories, it's apparent that Rose Tremain can write--but also that she hasn't quite found her voice yet. This is not the Tremain most of us love for her historical fiction like <I>Restoration, Music and Silence, The Colour, Wolf Hall,</I> or </I>Bring Up the Bodies</I>. Here, her subject matter, style and language are contemporary, and there's a dark quirkiness to the stories that remind me of the earlier works of Ian McEwan. I've come across this Tremain before, when I read <I>The Way I Found Her</I>. The title story is by far the most interesting. Charlotte, activist daughter of aristocratic parents, breaks into the family estate while her parents are on holiday. Her plan is to steal enough pawnable loot to support her lover Jim, a down-and-out writer who spends his time looking (unsuccessfully) for odd jobs and drinking instead of producing the Next Great Novel. The narrative moves among Charlotte, her parents, Jim, and Doyle, a reporter whose live-in love first leaves him for another man and later begs him to take her back--sort of, since she explain that she needs both of them to be happy. But Doyle has fallen for Charlotte after a brief meeting in the emergency room where she has been taken to have a head wound treated before being hustled off to jail. Reading this over, it sounds like a comedy of errors, and in a way, I suppose it is. But it's a sad tale of misguided people misreading other people, making mistakes that change their lives for the worse.The remaining stories are far less interesting. A toughened woman tells her tough story in an it-is-what-it-is-and-what-are-you-going-to-make-of-it? manner. An actor playing the Duke of Buckingham falls for James I. A man complains of his loveless marriage. Another remembers his father's second marriage and the way he and his twin reacted to it. An artist betrays the much older lover who supports him. Etc. They are all fine enough, all rather depressing, and all sound a bit dated in 2013. In the end, I'm glad that Tremain turned her hand to historical fiction.

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