One hundred years ago a great friend told me about Rose Tremain’s short stories, and since then I haven’t stopped reading her work. She’s written at least two collections of short stories and ten novels and today, wonderful writer that she is, Rose Tremain has won the Orange Prize for Fiction with her tenth novel, The Road Home (a wonderful portrait of an eastern European immigrant and his struggles to settle here and, more importantly, to find that place that we all long to call home). Tremain’s work has been shortlisted for the Booker and for the Orange before, but this is the first time it has won. I can’t think why it hasn’t happened before. Her work is brilliant and deserves all the awards.
‘Madness may be born of many things but yet for all except those who are lunatic from their births there was a Time Before, a time when there was no madness in them … madness is not a static thing but, just as all things in the world are changeful, so is madness and, like them, may change for the better or for the worse. But we do not ask what were the Footsteps of each case of madness … and we should try with each one of those in our care to look back into past time and ask them to … remember how it was to be in the Time Before and what thing or calamity came about to put them into the Sickening Time … .’ And now [out] poured all my … cures by dancing, my suggestions for story-telling and the playing of music.
All Tremain’s work is peopled with vivid and often strange characters, and will live long after you’ve read it in your head because of its glorious settings and, above all, its emotional and psychological honesty. She’s written seven other novels that I haven’t even mentioned, but read her work … you won’t be disappointed.