Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Road Home by Rose Tremain

The Road Home tells the story of Lev, a migrant worker from Eastern Europe who travels to Britain in the hope of working and earning enough money to support his mother and daughter, back in his home country. Lev is in his 40s and is grieving from the death of his wife from leukaemia but is willing to push his personal troubles aside and work hard.

This was my first Tremain novel and I liked the writing style and the way it flowed, I read this on holiday and this proved to be quite a quick read which entertained me. The parts when Lev arrives in the UK were great and it described well at first the confusion of entering a new culture before he then began to lead a rather charmed immigrant life.

But while Lev was slightly unpredictable in places, the characters surrounding him were nearly all stereotypes, like Christy the Irish heavy drinker or Sophie the Brit girl who is fun loving and easy to bed. Large parts of the plot did not ring true for me either but I am unable to give any big examples without spoiling the plot (ah Lev going from only knowing a few phases in English to reading Hamlet in a few months for one)

The more the novel went on the more far fetched it became until I was forced to suspend all belief in order to carry on to the even more unbelievable ending. I also had trouble believing the descriptions of (the unspecified)Eastern European country that Lev was from. I am just left with a image of everyone in this country drinking Vodka from dawn until dusk, children playing with goats during their lunch breaks and where £20 is a fortune.

I am quite torn on this one as despite my grievances I did read it quickly and I enjoyed large parts of it. This isn't one I would recommend but I would read another book by Tremain.

Posted by Jess


  1. I have been disappointed by Tremain who is usually well recommended. I agree with you it's not a book I'd recommend.

  2. I enjoy Tremain's work but one of the things which I find most interesting is that her books are for the most part very different. You can't predict what type of novel her next will be. I would suggest you browse round her works in your local bookshop and see which of her many styles and subjects most takes your fancy rather than just picking up another on spec.

  3. I've not read any Tremain but have heard lots of good things about her. It's a shame there were so many stereotypes.

    And I see you're reading Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser. I love that book and have since read almost all of Fraser's history books. Hope you are enjoying it :)

  4. so glad I'm not the only person who found the plot of this book a little incredible, though I did like the character of Lev, the determination with which he pursued his dreams was admirable. Have liked other things by her better, so don't dismiss her as a writer based on this.
    thanks for sharing

  5. I've been wanting to try something by Rose Tremain but based on your review I think I'll choose one of her other books to start with. This one does sound interesting but it's a shame about the stereotypes and the far fetched plot.

  6. booketta - TBH I can't believe it won the orange prize, its not a bad read but it really didn't strike me as prize winning material.

    Annie - I chose this one because of the subject matter which kinnda backfired. I would try her again as I did quite like the writing and how it flowed, perhaps it was just this one.

    Sam - I actually started Marie Antoinette when I was pregnant but then gave up halfway through when I gave birth (just over two years ago)I was really enjoying it but my new mother status couldnt cope with a large non-fiction book which is why I have only just now picked it up again. I really like her style of writing and I've found it not dry at all. Very interesting!

    martine - I will certainly give her another go, I dunno it was things like that money he saved in a stupid amount of time or that old lady leaving him some that really seemed almost like a fairytale rather than a realistic book you know?

    Helen - I think the stereotypes annoyed me far more than the story but I hear some of her other books are very well received so I would recommend that you start with one of those.

  7. I've also heard great things about Tremain, but, given the review, think I might have to start elsewhere. Usually a few stereotypes here and there I'm able to just brush off my shoulders, but if it's as bad as you're describing it...Thanks for the great review!

  8. I enjoyed this one, but I had some issues with the plot too. I have heard that some of her earlier books are fantastic (I was even more disappointed by Trespass) and so will try them. Fingers crossed they are as good as everyone says they are.

  9. I have not read anything by this author, but own about 4 of her books. I hope Trespass will be first for me, but this one is in my pile as well.

    Great review.

  10. wereadtoknow - there are a few disgruntled eastern europians on Amazon! Yes honeslty they were that bad.

    Jackie - I heard the same with Trespass, it was entertainly though but I wil give her earlier ones a try at some point.

    Diane - she is a very well known and liked author, I just think perhaps it was this one I didnt like. The writing was good.

  11. I completely agree with you on this one! About the stereotypes, the unbelievable plot details, and the unnamed Eastern European country... it got on my nerves actually.

    This was my first Orange prize winner and I have to say it didn't give me a great first impression of the prize.

  12. I read this and kind of love it. I think "Restoration" is her classic and was included as Waterstone's special edition of Vintage Classics. (Hardback, embossed cover and all, exclusively available in Waterstone).

    Lev is an Ukrainian and left Kiev for London. The story seems to imply that immigrant like Lev is better back to his native land setting up a business himself. If things are only that easy. (back to the argument of the believability of the story plot).