- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (29 April 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099425157
- ISBN-13: 978-0099425151
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Colour Paperback – 29 Apr 2004
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More About the Author
Rose Tremain has long been one of the most vigorous and imaginative of novelists; her sweeping narratives (set against the most vividly realised of canvases) have made her books as dramatic and assured as anything being written today. The Colour represents a further burnishing of her considerable talents; it is a powerful drama of greed and aspiration set in the New Zealand Gold Rush of the mid-19th Century.
Tremain's protagonists are Harriet and Joseph Baxter, who (along with Joseph's mother) leave England for the promise of the new world that New Zealand represents. Needless to say, their relocation comes with many attendant (and nigh-insoluble) problems. But their struggle against the land continues apace until Joseph discovers gold in a nearby creek and ill-advisedly conceals the find from his mother and his wife. Gold fever takes an all-consuming grip upon him, and he leaves the family-owned farm to traverse the gold fields of the Southern Alps. There he will find a strange fate: one that affects those he has left behind as well as him.
As a study of human nature in extremis, this could well be Tremains most impressive book. Lacking the elegant stylishness of Restoration, The Colour grants us a fastidiously rendered picture of life lived at the sharp edge. And while her characters are confronted with terrifying decisions that few of us are ever likely to encounter, Tremains narrative gifts make it easy to identify with the decisions (both wise and catastrophic) that her characters take. The sense of period is forcefully conveyed, and while this is not as ingratiating a read as such earlier Tremain books as The Swimming Pool Season, her new level of ambition makes it perhaps the authors most important book yet. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Tremain is a magnificent storyteller with an enormous story to tell" (Independent on Sunday)
"This is a writer whose breadth of imagination and supple prose transcend the genre: she is one of the finest writers in England" (Daily Telegraph)
"Tremain has produced her own wondrous piece of gold" (Scotsman)
"A fabulous work, bravely imaginative, deeply moving, surprising, invigorating and satisfying" (Independent)
"This is a beautifully crafted book - at once a gripping adventure story and a compelling portrayal of human emotion at its bravest and its most vulnerable" (Economist)
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Top Customer Reviews
The threads of the book are woven skilfully and we, as readers, are kept guessing until the end, the principal characters - each real and vulnerable - taking us along with them as they struggle to come to terms with the cold consequences of their past choices. The writing is subtle and measured: I get the feeling that the author chooses each word with great care, and her selections are invariably right, as we both explore the psyche of people living on the edge and enjoy a rollicking good tale of gold and greed and hope.
So, don't be off by adjectives such as 'brutal' and 'depressing' - this book is compelling, vivid, and most satisfying - as a professional writer myself I can only admire greatly what Rose Tremain has achieved here.
The young couple, together with Joseph's mother, Lillian, embark on a farm life that none are prepared for. Tensions abound as the precariousness of their survival becomes evident, in particular during their first winter in the wilds around Christchurch. Three isolated and solitary people, each is preoccupied with attempting to overcome unresolved issues of their past life back in Norfolk, England. Joseph hides some shameful crime from his former life that comes back to haunt him with increasing intensity and is revealed to the reader in small portions. His secret is isolating him even more from his wife in particular. He becomes wary of his wife's positive attitude and growing self-confidence - "a woman as tall as he". When, by their creek, he discovers a few specks of gold, the 'colour', he is ecstatic and frantically searches for more. While no more gold is found and he manages to hide his find from his wife, his obsession can no longer be contained. He abandons the faltering farm and declares that joining the new wave of gold diggers on the other side of the country will be their financial rescue and salvation.Read more ›
It has its faults. It suffers from the apparent belief among contemporary authors that, unless a book contains a strange element of magic and mysticism, the reader will lose interest. This is not so - most books which try this obvious and tired trick fall down as a result. In this book, this unnecessary flummery arises in the relationship between the Maori woman, Pare, and the English boy, Edwin. On one level, this strand of the story is a touching (and ultimately tragic) tale of childhood imagination and clashing imperial and indiginous cultures, and it would have been better left at that. The introduction of Maori spiritualism seemed to me to be somewhat forced and shallow, and wholly unnecessary.
And why, oh why, do publishers of books set in strong geographical locations NEVER include a map? I dug out my own map of New Zealand, which greatly assisted in conceptualising the action, but a one-page map in the book itself would be so easy to include and would make such a difference.
But otherwise, a thoroughly good read - a little depressing, but not without its upbeat moments.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Yet another Rose Tremain novel that explores an unknown history -this time the gold rush in New Zealand and the awfulness of the prospectors' compulsion to undergo all hardships... Read morePublished 1 month ago by A. Killey
The Colour by Rose Tremain was recommended to us by our friend Frances who was lucky enough to actually visit Hokitika in New Zealand. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Stephanie Jane
great novel about early times and hardships for settlers in New ZealandPublished 3 months ago by Hendy
Tremain brings the wild New Zealand landscape alive through her vivid descriptive writing.Her characters are believable and she exposes their frailties as they struggle to make a... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Keith Hilson Todd
Book Club choice. Didn't make me want to rush to dig for gold. Grim subject, quite depressing but well written. Not a favourite.Published 6 months ago by A. J. Breckenridge
A brilliant novel. Good publication, good price, prompt delivery.Published 7 months ago by ruth passant