The Colour

by Rose Tremain | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: Global Overview for this book
Registered by BookGroupMan of Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on 1/3/2005
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by BookGroupMan from Criccieth, Wales United Kingdom on Monday, January 03, 2005
...about the effects of the NZ gold rush (I didn't even know there was one!) on a Norfolk-born family man emigre. Highly acclaimed - an Orange prize shortlist, and recommended by my little bro'

(2/08) Rose Tremain is a highly respected award-winning author, and this book was enjoyed by all my book group, who are normally a hard audience to please en masse.

So why was I under-enthused about this? I think RT had the raw materials of a great novel; the period of history and events, gold rush in colonial south island New Zealand in the mid C19th, and a number of fascinating characters and back-stories. But I don’t think the ‘leads’ were particularly likeable and the whole blend of the rugged elemental frontier life and the more subtle spirituality of the Maoris and the ‘celestial’ farmer Pao Yi, didn’t really work for me.

*spoiler*

The reader was not really given much to like about the emigree from Northolk Joseph Blackstone, nor his shrewish mother Lillian – the best you could say that they deserved our pity, and were, despite some false hope, doomed to misery and dissappointment. I had higher hopes for the relationship between the young Edwin (E’win) Orchard and the disgraced Maori Pare, but in the end it went very woolly and their respective fates seemed ultimately pointless and not really key to the plot.

In the end Harriet Salt/Blackstone became more important – and ultimately more successful – than her husband; weak & bloodless, obsessed with gold (The Colour), pleasing his mother, seeking redemption for his past whilst making an even bigger hash of his present! But, she still didn’t set the world alight for me as an icon of female emancipation, self-actualisation (see Pao Yi above!), grit and fortitude.

The best characters for me were a couple of flawed but honest (discuss!) bit part actors, Rebecca Millward and Will Sefton, both partners of Joseph’s. But, typical of Joseph that he couldn’t recognise a good thing or a bad thing, respectively, because that would involve selflessness, and a stronger and more independent mind that his.

Released 13 yrs ago (8/12/2006 UTC) at Caffe Nero IP1 book-crossing zone in Ipswich, Suffolk United Kingdom

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Taken along to today's Ipswich meet-up...may be still on the shelf if you're quick ;)

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