Rose Tremain was one of only five women to be selected for Granta’s original 20 ‘Best of Young British Novelists’ in 1983. Since then, her novels and short stories have been published in 27 countries and won many prizes, including the Whitbread Award, the Prix Femina in France and the 2008 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her fourteenth novel, The Gustav Sonata, was published to wide acclaim in 2016. It won the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction in the United States and the UK South Bank Sky Arts Award for Literature 2017. This year, 2018, she published her first foray into non-fiction, the best-selling memoir, ROSIE: Scenes from a Vanished Life. She was made a CBE in 2007. She is now working on a new novel.
Today is Jack Sadler’s birthday. Or is it? He’s not sure, he doesn’t really care. It might be his last day or the beginning of a new chapter in his life. He must find the key to his old room. He knows the truth about his past lies there and somehow he must get in and confront it.
Fat and fifty, educated only to be a wife and mother, Ruby Constad has reached a point of crisis. Her husband, Leon, lies in a nursing home after a stroke that has left him paralysed; her grown-up children are gone. In her anguish Ruby appeals for help to a half-remembered figure from her colonial Indian girlhood – Sister Benedicta. Gradually the events leading up to Leon’s stroke are revealed and a woman emerges whose capacity to love, hope and understand are far greater than she realises.
When Erica March composes herself to die in a cupboard, she knows that Ralph Pears will find her. For at the age of 87, she had told the young journalist the richly colourful story of her life as novelist, political activist and, above all, lover, from childhood in Suffolk, Paris between the wars, to oblivion in post-war London. At the end of Ralph’s patient probings only one secret remains: the mystery inside one constant object in her life – her cupboard.
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…
When a twist of fate delivers an ambitious young medical student to the court of King Charles II, he is suddenly thrust into a vibrant world of luxury and opulence. Blessed with a quick wit and sparkling charm, Robert Merivel rises quickly, soon finding favour with the King, and privileged with a position as ‘paper groom’ to the youngest of the King’s mistresses. But by falling in love with her, Merivel transgresses the one rule that will cast him out from his new-found paradise. Determined to be restored to the King’s grace, Merivel begins a journey of self-knowledge and soon discovers that the King’s pleasure is equally matched by his wrath…
A stunning collection of stories: wide-reaching in subject and setting, each beautifully evoked and brilliantly imagined.
Renowned opera singer Antonio Mollini begins construction on what he hopes will be the most beautiful garden in Italy, unaware that its development will have tragic consequence for both him, and his series of lovers. Elsewhere, a farmer’s son has high hopes for his inheritance, a young girl dreams of following in the footsteps of a famous arsonist, and the pressure of the annual Gardening Cup exerts a heavy toll on seventeen-year-old Dougie.
We’re all something else inside…
1952. Standing in a cold Suffolk field with her family, six-year-old Mary Ward has a revelation: I am not Mary. That is a mistake. I am not a girl. I’m a boy.
So begins Mary’s heroic struggle to change gender. Moving from the claustrophobic rural community of the 1950s to London in the swinging Sixties and beyond to the glitter of America in the Seventies, Sacred Country is the story of a journey to find a place of safety and fulfilment in a savage and confusing world.
This is the summer that Lewis Little, precocious thirteen-year-old, is spending in Paris with his mother, Alice. Alice is translating the latest medieval romance by Valentina Gavrilovich, the bestselling and exotic Russian émigré, Lewis is there to make his first acquaintance with one of the greatest cities in the world; neither can foresee the momentous events that lie in wait for them. Valentina slowly casts a spell over Lewis, but when her past begins to encroach on all their lives and, as this enchanted world is gradually lost, Lewis is driven on a terrifying quest.
In Rose Tremain’s teasing and brilliant title story, Evangelista’s Fan set in a disturbing dreamlike version of Regency London, a young italian clockmaker contrives a magical means, not only of repairing time, but also of unlocking the mechanism of sexual happiness. This collection demonstrates the enormous range of her talent and imagination. Here is history – Agincourt as seen by the herald who rides between the two camps – alongside such contemporary issues as mortgage debt and medical error. Here are stories set in Cornwall, Corsica, Nashville, Niagara and an unidentified city which conjures up any and every Western European capital. Here are the obstinate dreams of the old and the passionate struggles of the young; here is heartbreak and humour; and here, above all, is love in its many and varied forms.
Winner of the Whitbread Novel Award
In the year 1629, a young English lutenist named Peter Claire arrives at the Danish Court to join King Christian IV’s Royal Orchestra. From the moment when he realises that the musicians perform in a freezing cellar underneath the royal apartments, Peter Claire understands that he’s come to a place where the opposing states of light and dark, good and evil, are waging war to the death.
Designated the King’s ‘Angel’ because of his good looks, he finds himself falling in love with the young woman who is the companion of the King’s adulterous and estranged wife, Kirsten. With his loyalties fatally divided between duty and passion, how can Peter Claire find the path that will realise his hopes and save his soul?
Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from Norfolk to New Zealand in search of new beginnings and prosperity. But the harsh land near Christchurch threatens to destroy them almost before they begin. When Joseph finds gold in the creek he is seized by a rapturous obsession with the voluptuous riches awaiting him deep in the earth. Abandoning his farm and family, he sets off alone for the new gold-fields over the Southern Alps, a moral wilderness where many others, under the seductive dreams of ‘the colour’, are violently rushing to their destinies.
By turns both moving and terrifying, The Colour is about a quest for the impossible, an attempt to mine the complexities of love and explore the sacrifices to be made in the pursuit of happiness.
Wallis Simpson, the twice-divorced American woman for whom Edward Vlll abdicated in 1936, ended her life as the prisoner of her lawyer who would not allow anyone – friend, foe or journalist – to visit her in her Paris flat. Rose Tremain takes this true story and transforms it into an imaginative and ironic fiction. Her thesis is that Wallis, gaga and bed-ridden, has forgotten the king who gave up an empire for love of her.
The other stories in this magnificent collection range over a variety of themes, equally original and unexpected. An East German border guard, redundant after the Berlin Wall comes down in 1989, imagines that he might still have a purpose in life: he tries to reach Russia by bicycling across the hostile wastes of Poland. A jilted man gets his revenge. A baby grows wings. A character in an Impressionist painting escapes from his ‘frame’ – or does he? And there’s a Christmas story set in a seedy hotel…
Lev is on his way from Eastern Europe to Britain, seeking work. Behind him loom the figures of his dead wife, his beloved young daugher and his outrageous friend Rudi who – dreaming of the wealthy West – lives largely for his battered Chevrolet. Ahead of Lev lies the deep strangeness of the British: their hostile streets, their clannish pubs, their obsession with celebrity. London holds out the alluring possibility of friendship, sex, money and a new career and, if Lev is lucky, a new sense of belonging…
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…
The wonderful new historical novel set in seventeenth-century England from Rose Tremain, author of Restoration (shortlisted for the Booker Prize), The Road Home (winner of the Orange Prize) and Trespass (a Richard & Judy pick). Merivel has been called ‘wonderfully entertaining’ (Guardian Books of the Year) and ‘an unadulterated delight’ (Independent) and has been shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.
The gaudy years of the Restoration are long gone and Robert Merivel, physician and courtier to King Charles II, sets off for the French court in search of a fresh start. But royal life at the Palace of Versailles – all glitter in front and squalor behind – leaves him in despair, until a chance encounter with the seductive Madame de Flamanville, allows him to dream of a different future.
But will that future ever be his? Summoned home urgently to attend to the ailing King, Merivel finds his loyalty and skill tested to their limits.
“A seductive new collection from ‘a magnificent story-teller”
Independent on Sunday
Trapped in a London flat, Beth remembers a transgressive love affair in 1960s’ Paris. The most famous writer in Russia takes his last breath in a stationmaster’s cottage, miles from Moscow. A father, finally free of his daughter’s demands, embarks on a long swim from his Canadian lakeside retreat. And in the grandest house of all, Danni the Polish housekeeper catches the eye of an enigmatic visitor.
Rose Tremain awakens the senses in this diverse collection of short stories. In her precise yet sensuous style she lays bare the soul of her characters– the admirable, the embarrassing, the unfulfilled, the sexy and the adorable – to uncover a dazzling range of human emotions and desires.
“Tremain has the painterly genius of an Old Master, and she uses it to stunning effect… Glorious.”
Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award
What is the difference between friendship and love? Or between neutrality and commitment? Gustav Perle grows up in a small town in ‘neutral’ Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem a distant echo. But Gustav’s father has mysteriously died, and his adored mother Emilie is strangely cold and indifferent to him. Gustav’s childhood is spent in lonely isolation, his only toy a tin train with painted passengers staring blankly from the carriage windows.
As time goes on, an intense friendship with a boy of his own age, Anton Zwiebel, begins to define Gustav’s life. Jewish and mercurial, a talented pianist tortured by nerves when he has to play in public, Anton fails to understand how deeply and irrevocably his life and Gustav’s are entwined.
Fierce, astringent, profoundly tender, Rose Tremain’s beautifully orchestrated novel asks the question, what does it do to a person, or to a country, to pursue an eternal quest for neutrality, and self-mastery, while all life’s hopes and passions continually press upon the borders and beat upon the gate.
*The Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller*
Rose Tremain grew up in post-war London, a city of grey austerity, still partly in ruins, where both food and affection were fiercely rationed. The girl known then as ‘Rosie’ and her sister Jo spent their days longing for their grandparents’ farm, buried deep in the Hampshire countryside, a green paradise of feasts and freedom, where they could at last roam and dream.
But when Rosie is ten years old, everything changes. She and Jo lose their father, their London house, their school, their friends, and — most agonisingly of all — their beloved Nanny, Vera, the only adult to have shown them real love and affection.
Briskly dispatched to a freezing boarding-school in Hertfordshire, they once again feel like imprisoned castaways. But slowly the teenage Rosie escapes from the cold world of the Fifties, into a place of inspiration and mischief, of loving friendships and dedicated teachers, where a young writer is suddenly ready to be born.