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Sacred Country [Hardcover]

Rose Tremain
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Sep 1992
Set in rural East Anglia and London and having its' extraordinary denouement in Nashville, Tennesee, this is a novel written by the author of "Temporary Shelter" which won a Giles Cooper Award for Radio Plays, "The Colonel's Daughter" and "The Swimming Pool Season".

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sinclair-Stevenson Ltd; First Edition edition (7 Sep 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1856191184
  • ISBN-13: 978-1856191180
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.2 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,795,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rose Tremain's novels have won many prizes including: the Whitbread Novel of the Year (Music and Silence); the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Prix Femina Etranger (Sacred Country); the Sunday Express Book of the Year, the Angel Literary Award and shortlisted for the Booker Prize (Restoration) and a Giles Cooper Award (for her radio play, Temporary Shelter). Her novel The Colour, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, and selected for the Daily Mail Reading Club promotion. In June 2007 Rose was made a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Product Description


"A remarkable novel" (The Times)

"A major book" (Daily Telegraph)

"Hypnotic... Curiously beautiful and strikingly original" (Spectator)

"Brilliant. A strong, complex, unsentimental novel" (Times Literary Supplement)

"Rose Tremain writes comedy that can break your heart-Funny, absorbing and quite original. I've read nothing to touch it this year" (Literary Review) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

'A remarkable novel - the product of a truly original mind, whose inventions are magically unforseeable' The Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful understated prose for a powerful story 25 Mar 2009
I had 'The Road Home' by this author at Christmas and found it a very evocative story, written through the eyes of a foreigner in England. Seeing the country I thought I knew so well through foreign eyes was quite a wake-up call! I wanted to read more by this author, and was gratified to find that in this book, too, Rose Tremain tells a story from another unexpected viewpoint (or set of viewpoints, since she divides the book into sections that allow more than one character to take their turn to tell their story in the first person). Mary Martin Ward, the book's main protagonist, is an acute observer of the places in which she lives (Suffolk, London, America) and of the people she meets. The author succeeds in presenting Mary's early life from a child's perspective - i.e. keen observation but often faulty interpretation. All is focused through Mary's essential belief that she should really be a boy, not a girl, and in this respect, she too walks through England as if she is a 'foreigner', because she doesn't fit comfortably into the female role and environment that she occupies, and thus often feels more of an onlooker than a participant.

Something similar could be said of Mary's mother, Estelle, whose lifelong struggle against depression isolates her too in a world that only transiently relates to what actually goes on around her. Mary's father Sonny handles his apartness in a different way - with belligerence and dogmatism, becoming over the years ever more inward-looking and taciturn. Her brother Timmy is another character who doesn't dovetail into school or life; he too seems to be on the outside looking in.
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83 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great novel. 19 Aug 2005
By Reader
I loved this novel. I haven't read it recently so some of the details are fuzzy but I do remember being amazed by the story and the author's writing style.
"Sacred Country" is about a young girl, Mary Ward, who, at the age of six, realizes that she should be boy. The book is a chronicle of her life from that point on. I found the detailed descriptions of the odd things that captured Mary's curiosity as a child (and as an adult, in a different way) intriguing. I won't lie, this is a very sad story at times, and is hard to read in some parts because of Mary's loneliness. The loneliness is never stated and packs a harder punch because of it. All in all, this book explained to me in stunning writing, the process of finding all of the right worlds in oneself. And, dealing with them when they don't fit or express into a manageable form to the outside world. It is a coming of age story to the self and to life. I like to read to learn - about happiness, sadness, life - this book delivered in a big way for me.
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77 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A celebration of human weakness and triumph 12 Sep 1999
By A Customer
Six year-old Mary stood quietly in the snow, with her family, as they mourned the death of King George VI, and thought "I am not Mary. That is a mistake. I am not a girl. I am a boy."
This is an enchanting story of people in a small village in the south of England trying to make sense of their lives.
It is not a book of tragedy. There is sadness, but there is joy. There is death but there is life. There is hopelessness but there is also the urge to become.
In its depiction of the complex network of relationships, there is probably more real truth about the way people are, than in a thousand psychology texts.
Walter with his dream of becoming a singer and songwriter believing that his dreams can never be fulfilled. Jimmy also nearly becoming trapped in a life not of his choosing. Both breaking out in their own special ways. Edward Harker, with his hat held discreetly in front of his trousers, believing that his feelings, at 61, for Irene are improper. And Irene never realising that a man could find her attractive as a woman.
Sonny, withdrawn inside himself occupied only with the farm that provided the family living. Estelle retreating into fantasy to escape a life of emptiness.
But, most of all, Mary who is really Martin, displaced in the family's cognisance by the arrival of the younger brother, despising him for his scrawny weakness, going through school to adulthood, meanwhile finding her true love and losing it, but growing triumphantly in her, then his, own individual way.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poor Mary 19 May 2009
By Alexander Bryce TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I first came across Rose Tremain when my wife bought The Road Home which I picked up as I had nothing else to read at that time and could not put down. I thought that I would try another and bought Sacred Country which did not disappoint. Rose Tremain is no writer of "chic lit"; she is a serious writer of contemporary drama with a nice sense of humour to relieve the tension.
She has the gift of involving the reader in the lives of her characters to the extent that one really cares and fears for them. She also illustrates accurately and interestingly life in rural England in the fifties and swinging London in the sixties.
Poor Mary knows at a very early age that she is different and for most of her young life she ploughs a lone furrow with no help or love from her maladjusted parents. There must be many sad Marys and Martins who, not through their choice, are made differently. This book certainly got me thinking sympathetically about a group whom I had previously given little thought to.
A sad subject, but not a sad novel; a really entertaining story told with kindness and a lot of humour. For those of us of a certain age the date of events underlined by the pop music of the time is a neat, memory jogging device although I think her dating of the Beatles is a year or so out a small, and perhaps pedantic, criticism of a great read .
Will Mary ever find contentment? It is worth reading the three hundred plus pages to find out. You won't regret it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Sacred Country
Interesting book but have had better from Rose Tremain.
Published 2 months ago by Mrs. D. King
4.0 out of 5 stars Sacred Country
Really compelling. A book about the preciousness of in-between moments in life. Wonderful. Like TRESPASS, a little whimsical at times.
Published 4 months ago by Crispin Allan
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have read in many a year.
This book rattles along and is funny, moving and poignant in equal measure. I cracked through it just a few days. Read more
Published 6 months ago by T. Bly
5.0 out of 5 stars Sacred Country
Excellent read.
Rose Tremain is a captivating writer who has expressed deep emotion right through the book. Captivating to the very end.
Published 7 months ago by Anu
3.0 out of 5 stars OK
It was an OK read, I didnt love it as much as other RT books, but it was easy enough to get on with
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Rose Tremain,
Rose Tremain is an author who writes in English prose without using swear words and adheres perfectly
to the English language. Read more
Published 9 months ago by jennifer anne worswick-heywood
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read
Rose Tremain's characters seem to act freely; she creates surprises on every page and yet her research and insight is spot on. Read more
Published 12 months ago by newnatbooks
5.0 out of 5 stars one of my all time favourites
Everytime I picked up this book I got a bit of an experience from it - the world tremian takes you into , or at least the desciption of the world , is so breathtaking that... Read more
Published 12 months ago by stephen
4.0 out of 5 stars Top quality
Reading a Rose Tremain book you realise that she has made huge efforts to research and understand her topic. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Walter
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb read
This is the best book I've read this summer. I've been a fan of Rose Tremain since I read "The Colour" but I think this is the best yet. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Chris
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