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423 of 438 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another fine book from a true original
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...
Published on 22 July 2007 by Graeme H

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some memorable bits amid much unoriginality
I found this story engaging initially as we see Lev, an unemployed 42-year-old widowed father, leave his economically dying village in Eastern Europe and travel to London in hopes of finding work as a migrant labourer, only to suffer loneliness and a sense of isolation. But then as his life turns for the better the story falls down badly and one feels very much as if...
Published on 14 Jun. 2010 by Wobbly Wellies


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One to read and keep to read again, 9 Jan. 2008
By 
Martin A. Chambers (U.K.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Road Home (Paperback)
I've never read any Rose Tremain books previously, but if generally she writes as well as she does in "The Road Home" I'd better start exploring her back catalogue. This is a rites of passage novel concerning Lev an eastern European migrant worker in Britain. It is somewhat depressing to note that anyone who was at all helpful to this near destitute man were themselves immigrants. It's the type of book you have to put down every second chapter or so, because you can see what is about to happen and you want to delay the tragic consequences as long as possible. I don't quite understand what makes a "great" book, but it seems churlish to offer just a "very good" in respect of The Road home, so providing you don't hold me too closely to account, I think I might just award it "great book" status. Very highly recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dear oh dear...., 9 Aug. 2012
This review is from: The Road Home (Paperback)
I've just finished this excellent novel and wasn't intending to write a review (especially as there are already 133 here) but having just read some of the astonishing comments, inane statements and laughable one-star dismissiveness found on this page I feel that I must try to redress the balance and help Rose Tremain, a first class author, have some justice. THERE IS EVEN A REVIEW FROM A PERSON WHO HAS NOT READ THE BOOK! That says nothing about this novel but an awful lot about the people who spend time on Amazon slagging off good books that they've taken against for peculiar reasons.
As a full-time writer myself I'd like to put a few things straight.
First of all, some of the slaggers suggest that Rose Tremain hasn't done her research. Read the acknowledgements. I can testify that a huge amount of background work has gone into this book. In fact, I'm full of admiration for it. Is every picture of every setting completely accurate? No, that's not possible. Does the author give resonance to the places she describes and provide the reader with sufficient flavour and understanding to make the story work? Yes.
Secondly, there are accusations that it's not realistic. So, you've all been in Lev's shoes have you? Perhaps some have, perhaps their experience was different, perhaps you've forgotten that this is fiction. It's a story, with characters that are as complex and flawed as real people. They make the story work. Oh how easy it is to shout, 'stereotype' and how hard it is to write a good book...
I bet some of the one-starrers don't read their kids fairy tales ('not another clever princess, really' or 'elves mending clothes? Per-lease.').
Thirdly, comparing Rose Tremain with Martin Amis and co. What is all that about? She's not Martin Amis, she's another gifted, insightful, compelling writer. She's one of the best novelists in Britain today and this is a very good read indeed. Try writing a novel yourself then, perhaps, you might step back from the cruel slagging.
Oh, and it might just be a good idea to READ a book before you review it...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear oh dear, 29 Nov. 2011
By 
J. Willis (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Road Home (Paperback)
The Road Home tells the story of Lev, a migrant worker from Eastern Europe who travels to Britain in the hope of working and earning enough money to support his mother and daughter, back in his home country. Lev is in his 40s and is grieving from the death of his wife from leukaemia but is willing to push his personal troubles aside and work hard.

This was my first Tremain novel and I liked the writing style and the way it flowed, I read this on holiday and this proved to be quite a quick read which entertained me. The parts when Lev arrives in the UK were great and it described well at first the confusion of entering a new culture before he then began to lead a rather charmed immigrant life.

But while Lev was slightly unpredictable in places, the characters surrounding him were nearly all stereotypes, like Christy the Irish heavy drinker or Sophie the Brit girl who is fun loving and easy to bed. Large parts of the plot did not ring true for me either but I am unable to give any big examples without spoiling the plot (ah Lev going from only knowing a few phases in English to reading Hamlet in a few months for one)

The more the novel went on the more far fetched it became until I was forced to suspend all belief in order to carry on to the even more unbelievable ending. I also had trouble believing the descriptions of (the unspecified)Eastern European country that Lev was from. I am just left with a image of everyone in this country drinking Vodka from dawn until dusk, children playing with goats during their lunch breaks and where £20 is a fortune.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Long ago there were prizes, but now there are no prizes, 8 Feb. 2010
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Road Home (Paperback)
This book should have everything going for it but, for me, it failed to convince, quite shockingly, in a number of respects. It tells of Lev, a widower from eastern Europe (the Ukraine?), who travels to England as an economic migrant and is therefore in London legally, though he seems to know no one in the city, except for a woman who sat next to him on the coach journey through Europe, Lydia, who has a job as a translator waiting for her and friends to stay with. On his very first foray to find work he is given a job distributing leaflets by a friendly Muslim cafe owner.

He falls on his feet rather too often, soon getting a flat in the house of a twinkly Irish landlord, who gets drunk periodically (all the Irish are drunken sots, didn't you know?) and a job in a top class London restaurant progressing from washer-up to vegetable chef (as you do) in practically no time. The sous chef is a lovely, generous young woman, Sophie, who soon falls for this forty year-old grey haired penniless immigrant, though she has contacts in the art world and an up-and-coming artist proves to be a rival for her affections.

The plot proceeds and Lev soon has no problem with the English language, even given that he only knew about three phrases when he arrived. He's soon rabbiting away with all and sundry and is even reading Hamlet. Lev himself is a mercurial character, by turns heart-warmingly innocent, yet capable of forcing himself on Sophie in what I presume to be a rape. But it's the kind of rape that turns into something else. Perpetuating this kind of lie (she didn't want it but then it turned out she did) is something of which the writer, any writer, should be ashamed.

Events back home, where he has left his mother and his five year-old daughter, interfere with his progress until he gets a great idea. It will involve a matter of earning enough to save £10,000, but he conveniently receives a legacy from a lovely old lady in an old folks home who he cooked a nice dinner for once. No, I'm sorry - much as I've enjoyed many of Rose Tremain's books, this just won't do.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written but predictable tale, 2 Sept. 2008
By 
Norman Housley (Leicester United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Road Home (Paperback)
Fascinating to read so many rave reviews. I read this on a very long train journey and if I hadn't been stuck there would probably have abandoned it. Rose Tremain has a wonderful prose style and she organizes her plots really well with lots of development, but the novel didn't grip me at all. Characters were boring, situations obvious (mobile phone going off during concert, stereotypical rich/poor London, even more stereotypical run-down anonymous ex-eastern bloc country etc), the ending warm & cosy. Did nobody else find Lev deeply tedious? She is very good at doing her homework, so the top-class restaurant, police treatment of migrants, retirement home, and lots of other stuff were thoroughly credible. But I felt disappointed; maybe I'm just expecting too much.
Norman Housley
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92 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read, 21 July 2007
By 
Terry Carr (Merseyside, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Road Home (Paperback)
This is the first (but not the last) novel I've read by Rose Tremain. I bought it after reading excellent reviews in a newspaper supplement and wasn't disappointed. The main theme is hugely topical and provides a perceptive and thought-provoking insight into the lives of immigrant east-european workers currently arriving in the UK in search of work. All the characters in the novel are believable and it is easy to empathise with them, especially Lev the protagonist who is realistically drawn. Lev's story is probably not exceptional, but nontheless it is very interesting, humorous and moving: it moved me to tears and laughter in equal parts. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey which had me hooked from the opening page. Highly recommended - an easy but wonderful read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So touching, 7 July 2008
By 
Boof (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Road Home (Paperback)
I found this book both so beautifully written that I longed to pick it up when I wasn't reading it, but also deeply humbling.

The story is centred around Lev, a 42 year old Eastern European who has a 5 year old daughter and whose wife died a few years ago. The book opens with the long bus journey from Levs country towards England to look for work and with only £20 in his pocket. We watch Lev stumble through his first few days looking for work, sleeping in the open air and delivering leaflets for £5 per day as he desperately tries to carve out a living so that he can send money home to his daughter and elderly mother. Through frequent flashbacks and conversations with his friend back home we also learn about why Lev had to leave and come to the UK to look for work.

This book (the first one I have read by Tremain - but certainly not the last) is not only exquisitely written but it had a much deeper effect too on making me think about how much we take for granted in the west. I loved every page, every word in fact.

I really can't recommend this book highly enough - it's moving, nostalgic and engaging and one I will remember for a long time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, 14 Dec. 2011
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Road Home (Paperback)
Tremain's prize-winning novel is an unsentimental superbly-written account of what life in London is like for Eastern European immigrants. Lev comes to London from an unspecified East European country (the Ukraine? Poland? Lithuania?) and soon realizes how hard it is to get work and make a decent living. Eventually, after sleeping rough for a couple of nights, he finds work in a restaurant, and lodgings with a friendly Irishman. Working hard, Lev develops an unexpected passion for food and cooking. But his emotional life is in turmoil: his wife has died of cancer (probably due to radioactive material leaking from the local power station in their home town), he misses his daughter, mother and best friend back home, and when he falls in love with an English girl, their relationship seems to bring him increasing misery. As Lev struggles to make a decent life, he realizes that he has to make a choice: try to stay in England and fit in, or use his skills learnt there to make a decent life for himself and his family back home.

This book taught me an immense amount about what it might be like to be an immigrant in London. Tremain's observations of London life are brilliant - I particularly enjoyed the scenes in restaurants (the book sharpened my interest in cooking as it does Lev's), the heartbreaking but also very funny scene in which Lev attends a provocative modern play at the Royal Court and gets into a fight afterwards, and the description of his friendships: with Lydia, a fellow-countrywoman who ends up becoming the mistress of an elderly conductor in order to get herself a decent quality of life, with Christy the Irishman and his Indian girlfriend, with the old people in the Care Home where he ends up as a cook and with the various chefs for whom he works. She also writes very movingly of Lev's life back in the fictional town of Baryn, and of his family and his friend Rudy, who collects beaten up Chevrolets. The final section of the book, set back in Baryn, was most moving.

I'd definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in why so many foreign workers come into the UK - and why so many of them are prepared to take menial jobs the British won't touch - it gives a wonderful, non-sensationalistic insight into their bravery, the hardships that many have to undergo, and their need to establish a sense of belonging. Oh - and Tremain also writes brilliantly from a male point of view; not easy.

The best Rose Tremain book I've read, and definitely deserving of the prizes it has won. Bravo!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful language used to describe a journey, 15 Jan. 2011
By 
Janie U (Kings Cliffe, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Road Home (Paperback)
Lev has travelled from Ukraine to the UK to find a job to enable him to support his mother and daughter back at home. This book tracks Lev's view of British society whilst he attempts to work through it in order to get home.
The subject matter makes the book very relevant in a time when many come to the UK hoping to find new lives and ways to fund families at home.
Immediate sympathy is created fo Lev and this keeps up throughout the novel. He is far from perfect and makes lots of mistakes but always tries hard to do the right thing.
He has an interesting view of Britain and, as an outsider, is able to question things which anyone from the UK would simply accept. The character is created very carefully so that I believed everything that he said and could always understand why he struggled with the things he did.
The relationships he builds with others around him were also very real, with people drifting in and out of one another's lives as they do.
One inconsistency is his varying levels of understanding the language. In some conversations he seems to pick up every nuance, at other times he claims not to understand anything. This was sometimes distracting but didn't spoil the read. There was a correlation between the evocative language used and Lev's inability to understand a lot of it which was thought provoking.
Lovely book - recommend it to anyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tender treatment of work-seeking immigrants, 28 July 2009
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This review is from: The Road Home (Paperback)
Rose Tremain has provided a touching picture of a middle-aged Polish work-seeker who comes to London to find anything that will earn him enough to support his child and mother (his wife having died) back in a desolate area of Poland where the local sawmill, in which he worked many years, has closed because no-one had the foresight to plant trees to replace those cut down to feed the mill.

Rose Tremain's style is highly readable,sometimes spoilt by unnecessarily explicit sex and repetitive bad language (perhaps insisted upon by the publishers, against her will and better taste.) Quite how the hero is able to smoke so many cigarettes and drink so much vodka, all at British prices, while sending money home to Poland remains a mystery.

The inner workings of a flashy fashionable London restaurant provide interest, as does a description of the life of the hero's alter ego - the smart would-be-lad-about-town who stays back in Poland and ekes a living from running a taxi-service with a thirty year old Chevrolet (of predictable unreliability). Finally we are taken into Suffolk to see the life at the bottom of the vegetable-grubbing industry - and are introduced to two surprisingly insouciant Chinese men.

Well done Ms Tremain - and thank-you

Roger Derek Williams
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The Road Home
The Road Home by Rose Tremain (Paperback - 12 Jun. 2008)
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