We all want a home, a place we belong. Even the traveller, who loves nothing more than being on the road, will eventually yearn for a place they feel at home. This feeling of belonging – or rather not belonging – is at the centre of the Rose Tremain’s book Trespass.
Set in the small village of La Callune in the Cevennes, in central France, it follows all the people who eventually meet up:
Anthony, the antique dealer based in Pimlico who is “keeping watch over his marvellous possessions – his beloveds, as he called them”, Victoria and Kitty, who live in the village, as well as Audrun and her brother Aramon, who have lived in La Callune for generations and young Melodie, who was uprooted from her beloved home in Paris to move because of her father’s job.
The book starts with 10-year-old Melodie on a school outing. As she distances herself from the group and heads to the stream, she discovers something awful, not recognising what it is initially.
And in comes Anthony, who after years of dealing antiques is ready to find a place he can call home, near his sister Victoria. On a trip to France he visits the beautiful home of Mas Lunel and falls in love with it. The owner is ready to sell and Anthony wants nothing more than to build a home – a sanctuary – in France.
The issue is that while the owner, Aramon, wants to sell to a foreigner who will pay good money, his sister Audrun is much more attached to the land. Audrun has never left La Callune and has “episodes” in which the ghosts of the dead return. The Mas has a personality to her which is as important as a family member or one of the ghosts in her episodes.
It is the tension which is very noticeable in the rural area: the entitlement of the locals who have owned the land for generations and have a deep connection with it versus the ownership money will give you. Audrun isn’t ready to sell, but Anthony wants nothing more than this property.
This is the basic premise of the book. Weaved into the storyline are beautiful descriptions of the mountain landscape of the region, its homes and its inhabitants. And while this colourful writing style makes it an enjoyable read, it does distract from the main story line.
Anthony, Aramon and Audrun are key to the novel. Is the narrative around Melodie necessary? How much do we need to read about Kitty and Veronica’s complicated relationship? It doesn’t add to the story and confuses at times. In the end, it is Audrun who makes the story, she is central and a force to be reckoned with. Who would have thought after the first introduction of the little friendly village lady?
Trespass, by Rose Tremain
first published 2000
ISBN: 0701177942, ISBN13: 9780701177942