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The Cupboard [Paperback]

Rose Tremain
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

2 Sep 1999
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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (2 Sep 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099284170
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099284178
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 220,956 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


"This is a writer whose breadth of imagination and supple prose transcend the genre: she is one of the finest writers in English" (Daily Telegraph)

"ROSE TREMAIN'S FICTION IS MY GOLD STANDARD" (Charlotte Mendelson Independent on Sunday)

"Much of the power of the book springs from Erica herself, a magnificent and greatly sympathetic creation... Miss Tremain has fashioned the totality of one life - and conveyed the evanescence of all human existence" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Strongly constructed - highly relevant - thoroughly fascinating" (Sunday Times)

"Rose Tremain has managed to get into the skin of her clever and wilful old heroine" (Nina Bawden Daily Telegraph)

Book Description

'Deeply evocative - a book brimming with life' The Times

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
81 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rose Tremain - a mountain goat of a writer! 19 Feb 2004
By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Like a mountain goat, Tremain amazes by her agility and sure footedness, negotiating high peaks, impervious to the sheer and deadly drops beneath! In this book, the 'drops' or 'traps' which a lesser writer would have fallen into, she effortlessly avoids.
Her central character, whose life and writing we explore through conversations with an male American journalist, is a very elderly English woman, who has lived through most of the 20th century. Erica is a wonderful, fierce, tender, fragile, passionate and engaged woman. She has breathed in, engaged with, inspired, and been inspired by life. She, as Ralph, the journalist, discovers, lives with and through love - not only sexual love, but an ability to live from the heart and to really live a life in the moment. This means her life is large, joyous, terrifying, fraught with periods of madness, despair, doubt, pleasure etc etc.
Inevitably, in describing such a character, there is the danger for the writer, either of overblown and fulsome prose, or of failing to fully describe, becuase of a fear of being overblown. Tremain avoids these pitfalls - Erica is seen through the distancing device of the youngish, male American - and it is through his perpective on her and her writing, that we discover her. It is also through her effect on him which causes him to look at his own more narrow, mundane and disengaged life, that Tremain makes us look at our own lives - do we live 'Ralph' or do we live 'Erica'.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Stunning 12 Nov 2000
By A Customer
It took a few attempts to engage with "The Cupboard," but I was soon hooked and I read the majority of the book in a day. I simply loved the main character for her wit, courage, wisdom and eccentricity, which is, when all said and done a credit to Rose Tremain, who as usual has written a character with profound depth and credibility. This book made me change my outlook on life, which sounds trite, but when faced with the challenges of life as a young woman, I think about the courage the protagonist had in "The Cupboard" and I am revived!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars PAINS ME TO SAY....... 2 Oct 2012
By Alexander Bryce TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It pains me to say that I did not enjoy this work . It pains me as up until now I delighted in anything written by Rose Tremain [ See my reviews on The Swimming Pool Season, Sacred Country etc. etc.]. Because it was written by Ms. Tremain I persevered page after heavy going page to an unsatisfactory end. The premise is good: young American journalist, Ralph in the present time interviews over many meetings the ageng Erica March an important literary figure from the early to mid parts of last century. During the course of their meetings her unusual life unfolds against the background of world events.
My problem with this book was the mixing of Ralph's rather uninteresting life with Erica's literary and personal lives, the dialogue between them and the extracts from Erica's novels which were to say the least totally weird and beggared my comprehension. For those with a much higher brow than mine this may be a masterpiece, but for me it is a great disappointment. Sorry Rose Tremain.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Cupboard 30 Aug 2013
By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER
Ralph Pears is 35 years old, an American reporter who is in London to interview and get notes on the life of Erica March, who at 87 years old may not have a lot of time or sense left to her. So Ralph's boss sends him to see if Erica is worth pursuing as a subject. Ralph feels that his own life has been valueless so far, and finds himself seeking unasked-for help from Erica to make some sense of his own time. As Erica narrates her life to him, and tells of her childhood, her work with the suffragettes, and her writing, the cupboard that was her mother's is one thing that is always part of her world.

While the story itself is interesting, and Erica's life is certainly full as she mirrors for much of it the wonders and horrors of the twentieth century, I found both her and Ralph to be characters that I found it hard to empathise with. They both seemed rather inexplicable to me in their views on the world and life. And if the extracts given from the `novels' of Erica March are indicative of her writing, I can't imagine how she would ever have been published in the first place. I'm afraid Erica March and Ralph Pears remain an enigma to me.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Will I ever read a Rose Tremain book that does not deserve five stars (and much more)? I hope not. Tremain surprises every time by delivering characters and lives so real they are almost unbearable. It's like standing under an ugly acrid orange light - nothing's hidden. Anyway, this book made me unhappy and depressed at times, but so do the best books. I like my realism gritty and I like it Tremain-style (with a little hope in there too). If there's anything to grumble about it's the ending. Ralf's windowsill herbs as a metaphor fell a wee bit flat.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A moving novel told from several perspectives 14 Mar 2000
By A Customer
After reading this novel, I felt as if I had actually met Erica March, the vodka-drinking 87-year-old. Much of the novel consists of her conversations with an American journalist, who hopes that by understanding Erica's life and loves he will be better equipped to deal with his own. With the major historical events of the twentieth century as the backdrop, the novel leads up to an ending that is both happy and sad.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I love Rose Tremain...
Published 16 days ago by miss a m jordan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I enjoy all of her works
Published 1 month ago by Jennifer Goodchild
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly recommended
What a surreal novel, but utterly charming. With the quality of this writing I was carried into the eras the novel is set in.
Published 5 months ago by stephen huggins
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing read
Really disappointed with this book. She is a favourite author of mine and I was very much looking forward to reading this.
Published 7 months ago by Laura Sheridan
1.0 out of 5 stars Ahhhh!
Have just finished this book and thrown it across the room. I've read about three other books by Rosé Tremain and enjoyed them all, this book however is a serious... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Mrs Claire Tanner-Tremaine
1.0 out of 5 stars Diappointment
Very disappointing.Not at all what I expect from Rose Tremain. I could not be bothered to finish it. The characters were boring and uninteresting.
Published 12 months ago by Irene Forward
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary book
This book is beautifully written and is operative on multifarious levels,which gives it a compelling feel. Not exactly uplifting but not lowering either. Such unintelligent read.
Published 12 months ago by balletsrusses
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine novel.
Thoughtful, moving, fascinating. A wonderful account of the relationship between a journalist and his interviewee. Rose Tremain's best novel in years..
Published 14 months ago by Ms V H Graveson
5.0 out of 5 stars The cupboard
This is an extraordinary book about an extraordinary woman.Rose Tremain brings the character of Erica March alive and believable.Fabulous read!
Published 17 months ago by Jon Hibberd
1.0 out of 5 stars A great disappointment
I have really enjoyed three of Rose Tremain's books....Restoration, Merivel and The Road Home. Rose Tremain is a wonderfully imaginative writer, and it was a great disappointment... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Patricia Ellis
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