by Rose Tremain
In a silent valley in southern France stands an isolated stone farmhouse, the Mas Lunel.
Its owner is Aramon Lunel, an alcoholic haunted by his violent past.
His sister, Audrun, alone in her bungalow within sight of the Mas Lunel, dreams of exacting retribution for the unspoken betrayals that have blighted her life.
Into this closed world comes Anthony Verey, a wealthy but disillusioned antiques dealer from London seeking to remake his life in France.
From the moment he arrives at the Mas Lunel, a frightening and unstoppable series of consequences is set in motion...
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 384 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 06/01/2011
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099478454
Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.
Review by litaddictedbrit
Audrun and Aramon Lunel are brother and sister that are destroying each other. Perhaps even have already succeeded. They live almost in utter isolation at the Mas Lunel and their proximity torments each of them daily. I really felt for Audrun as a woman struggling with an unimaginable burden but was slightly repelled by her twisted focus. Equally, Aramon is a sorry man drinking himself into oblivion but, again, I found his history abhorrent and almost couldn't bear to read about his sordid view of the world.Anthony Verey is struggling in obscurity; running an antique shop with very few customers and a shadow of the former famous man he once was. He no longer connects with people and identifies only with the objects under his care: his "beloveds", as he calls them. In his youth, Anthony was a respected valuer and noted expert - in his own mind, he is still the Anthony Verey. Needless to say, he is tormented and all but broken and looks to his older sister to save him.Veronica Verey lives in France and has an overly-maternal attitude towards Anthony. Her partner, Kitty, is somewhat less enthused. The problem I had with 'V' is an almost complete disregard for anyone other than the Verey family. She claims to love Kitty but when Anthony arrives and starts taking over their lives, V turns her back on Kitty with an utter disregard for the pain she is causing. That said, I couldn't find it in myself to feel too bad for Kitty because her hatred for Anthony seems solely borne out of jealousy and she has such a lack of personal identity that I found myself just willing her to stand up for herself!As you can see, this is a book that is all about its characters, these five predominantly. I believe that one of my texts to my mum when I was about half way through read "What is up with the people in this book?!" Unusually, I managed to enjoy the book despite not identifying with any of the characters or even liking any of them! I wouldn't want to know any of them and I certainly wouldn't want to intrude on their painful world but they are disturbingly captivating.The story, equally, isn't an easy one to read. The subject matter can be tough and the relationships are destructive and harrowing. My A-Level English Literature teacher loved a bit of pathetic fallacy and I suppose it's ingrained in my psyche somewhere that I should be looking out for it. This book has it in spades. As the heat builds in the story, so it builds in the Mas Lunel and the surrounding area. It was that that kept me reading. It might not always be pleasant but it is certainly compelling.I'm not exactly clamouring to read more of Tremain's writing straight away - I'm pretty sure my perception of humanity has been damaged enough for this month! However, I'm not completely put off and would possibly pick up another in the future. A mixed reaction, I suppose.Overall: This is a strange book with some tough subject matter but the tension is engineered brilliantly and the story is a blend of heartache, memories and, of course, trespass. - this is a good read for a hot summer's day and will stay with you for a while after you finish it.
Review by Yarrow
This is quite an overbearing novel, which kept me gripped until the end despite the fact that absolutely none of the characters are very likeable. It's very atmospheric, brilliantly evoking the clammy claustrophobia of an insular forest in the south of France in midsummer. You never quite forget the little girl you meet in the first few pages, and as you read the novel everything has a sense of foreboding as you wonder what happens to her. I thought the characters were very well drawn as well, particularly the garden designer Veronica and her partner, the artist Kitty. Despite this, the novel didn't really affect me very much, the shocking secret that was exposed was all too predictable, and I didn't care too much about the characters when it finished.
Review by tulstig
I had trouble getting into this book- a bit of a slow start I thought but wanted to give it a chance -this was the only thing that kept me reading to the end. The style of writing isn't one that really endeared itself to me. A supposedly gripping storyline that goes nowhere, with main characters that are neither likeable nor at time believable. Sadly I have to say I found this yarn went on too long, and am not sure I'll pick up another book by the same author.
Review by booktwitcher
Although the characters were for the most part disagreeable, it was an excellent pageturner.