Rose Tremain can, it seems, do just about anything. Each one of her books is utterly different from the last, each creates a detailed and authentic world for her characters and their quests.
In The Road Home, Tremain tells the story of Lev, an Eastern European migrant worker who has left his village and travelled to England so that he can finance a better life for his mother and daugther. He takes with him his grief for his dead wife. There is an almost fairytale-like quality to Lev's chance encounters and where they lead him, although, that said, they also feel natural and possible; Tremain has always been good on the essential randomness of experience.
Lev's London is awash with money, celebrity and complacency - an ugly picture of the way we live now - but there is nothing polemical about the book. The world Tremain creates feels real, and she allows her characters to negotiate it, and make their compromises with it, in a way that is both convincing and very poignant. There is also a rich vein of humour that runs through the book, much of which comes from the stories about and conversations with Lev's friend Rudi, who has stayed back in the village.
The 1983 Granta list of best young British novelists famously includes: McEwan, Rushdie, Pat Barker, Amis, Graham Swift. Tremain was among this group but in my view remains a little underrated. Both Music & Silence and Restoration have found critical acclaim and broad readerships, but The Colour - a fine, fine book - did less well, and The Way I Found Her is a book far less well known than it should be. Almost alone amongst that stellar group of 1983, she hasn't yet put a foot wrong.