Saturday, 25 September 2021

The Colour by Rose Tremain

The Colour by Rose Tremain
Published by Chatto and Windus in 2003.

How I got this book:
Borrowed a paperback copy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from Norfolk to New Zealand in search of new beginnings and prosperity. But the harsh land near Christchurch threatens to destroy them almost before they begin. When Joseph finds gold in the creek he is seized by a rapturous obsession with the voluptuous riches awaiting him deep in the earth. Abandoning his farm and family, he sets off alone for the new gold-fields over the Southern Alps, a moral wilderness where many others, under the seductive dreams of 'the colour', are violently rushing to their destinies. 

By turns both moving and terrifying, The Colour is about a quest for the impossible, an attempt to mine the complexities of love and explore the sacrifices to be made in the pursuit of happiness.

I first blogged this review on Stephanie Jane in November 2015.

The Colour by Rose Tremain was recommended to us by our friend Frances who was lucky enough to actually visit Hokitika in New Zealand. Therefore, when I saw a copy at Dave's daughter's house I was very keen to borrow it! Both Dave and have now read The Colour and we both loved the book.

Set in 1860s New Zealand at the height of a gold rush, Tremain manages to brilliantly evoke not only the enthusiasm and dedication of the early white farming settlers but also the madness and extreme endurance of the gold prospectors. I was impressed by her descriptions of the stunning landscapes as well as the contrasting living conditions across South Island. The characters are wonderfully well-drawn too. From underestimated Harriet to hard-done-by Lilian, selfish Joseph and opportunistic Will. Even minor characters such as Lily are perfectly real and believable and the racism shown towards Chinese settlers was depressing to read. I liked the interweaving of Pare's Maori narrative and wondered if an actual Maori folk tale was behind her story or if it was a parallel of the Maori loss of New Zealand to the colonising Europeans.

The Colour is an easy book to read, but one which I think will remain with me for quite a while. I found it difficult to put down and so finished in a day. I am now wishing I had made it last longer!

Etsy Find!
by Great Boot Store

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Books by Rose Tremain / Historical fiction / Books from England

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