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The Colour (2004)

The Colour (2004)

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3.77 of 5 Votes: 1
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0099425157 (ISBN13: 9780099425151)
vintage books

About book The Colour (2004)

Having finished this book, I have decided to rewrite the review. Here is what I like about this writer and this novel:First of all I am impressed with the author's ability to create this story from nothing. The story seems so real, the people seem real. Out of nothing she has created a world that has never existed. I usually find non-fiction better than fiction. Fiction never feels genuine, but this novel does.What I like most about this book is the way the author has an idea and then says it with a few simple words that feel utterly perfect. I fear that if I extract those sentences out of the novel you will not understand them. Here is one: "What is important to me is already mine." See, you don't understand! But it has to do with self-discovery. This sentence just perfectly summarizes how it when you understand what is important for yourself. Tremain, through this novel, made me understand the craziness that engulfs those looking for gold. I understand now what these people experienced, not just physically but emotionally too. For me, the primary theme of this book is in fact love. What it does to us. How it can both destroy us and make life worth living. Their are several different love stories found in this novel. Each love relationship has a different story to tell. Each one was distinct and special in its own way. I feel like I know more about New Zealand after reading this book, both its history and its physical characteristics. I had to get out a map and find the cities. I found them all. I like that I could place this story on a real patch of earth. Finally, the characters are perfectly drawn - through dialog and what they do and how they do what they do. I will give you one example only. There are two immigrant families - the Blackstones(Joseph and Harriet and Joseph's mother Lillian) and the Orchards(Toby and Dorothy and their son Edwin). Lillian and Dorothy are dining with the Orchards. Lillian, proper and constrained, fingers her wine glass, straightens the cutlery. Toby, is jovial and happy - the spring is coming, the day had been beautiful, he is entertaining three women and celebrates by putting on a new waistcoat and bringing out two bottles of his best claret. Toby, in an animated, lively manner, praises the skills of livestock auctioneers. He exclaims that what they do is a "science" he so admires. Lillian's late husband had been a livestock auctioneer. And how does Tremain draw the scene for us? Lillian is terribly flattered! Someone recognizes her worth, albeit though her late husband. She halts her hands' aligning of the cutlery and positions them in a "prayer-like clench". When she next picks up her glass of claret her little finger is held at an angle. Picture this. Tremain puts before our eyes exactly how this woman would appear, exactly what she most probably would do. We see it. And it is so perfect because this is exactly what Lillian would do. Tremain draws characters so we see them.One more thing - where the plot leads was a complete surprise. The book description gives you no clue! And then at the end, all the threads are tied up perfectly and what each character has done makes complete sense.

When I first picked up "The Colour", I didn't know what to expect. I had only read one of Rose Tremain's short stories, I knew virtually nothing about New Zealand apart from what little I'd heard in the news, and I certainly did not understand the Gold Rush at all. In fact, I never knew there was one in New Zealand, too. What first impressed me was the storybuilding. We get to know Joseph, his mother Lilian and his wife Harriet, who have come to New Zealand from England to start again. They seem very lonely, even more so in the vast landscape that is being described. With every chapter, the reader learns something about the characters, about their motivations, about their relationships, and about their pasts. Rose Tremain never reveals too much; she always keeps you guessing and in a book that is by necessity as slow-paced as this, the suspense about the dark secrets keeps a reader going. When it comes to the Gold Rush; I had a hard time seeing the appeal of the gold. This was made easier for me because I was reading this edition - it has golden coloured inside covers, so that you see it shining behind the pages while you read. While I had a hard time understanding how the Gold Rush started; the descriptions of how it went on and then ended are absolutely perfect. There are some technicalities, and I googled a lot of pictures to imagine what it must have looked like, but the overall feeling came across - miners going mad for not finding anything; living in the mud and dirt and being lonely for fear of having to share what little amount of the colour they may find; and all the while destroying a landscape they once thought so beautiful. What I didn't expect when I opened the book was the amount of Maori knowledge described in the book. Through a secondary character, the reader can experience New Zealand from a native's point of view, feeling the suffering of the landscape from the over-population and technologies that the miners bring with them. I can imagine that it might be a little too spiritual for the average reader, but I tried to feel what was written, and it came across as very real for me. All in all, it was a fabulous book and it made me want to know more about New Zealand. When I got out a map to look up the names, and I googled for pictures of all the places described, I wanted to get a plane ticket straightaway. I also loved the focus on nature, and the imagination of the beautiful landscape got me over some dreary passages where I wanted to bang the main characters' heads together to see if they might develop some common sense. I have to say that while it suited the story, and I did not mind it while reading it, the slow pacing would put me off of placing this on my shelf of favourites, which is what led me to deduct half a point; still I would highly recommend this novel to everyone.

Do You like book The Colour (2004)?

Despite being a historical novel set in Victorian New Zealand at the time of the 19th century gold rush it has, even more than Music and Silence or Restoration a dreamlike atmosphere.The book has a syrupy pace, any one moment full and rich but in no hurry to get to the next and a persistent strangeness - in a word, dreamlike. On the downside I felt the revealed secret of the husband was weaker than I had been expecting, particularly after the advent of the male prostitute on the way to the gold-fields. Perhaps I've simply read too many Victorian novels and have become locked into a cycle of explosive secret inflation, when maybe it is a case of how destructive that secret is to the character not the reader.After three of Tremain's historical novels I feel that historical is not the correct term for them. They are set in the past yet accuracy doesn't seem to be the point, nor illuminating some particular event. The stories instead are primarily human ones, but which perhaps could have existed only in a certain historical context. Symbols and psychology though trump historical realities. In this story a house built of cob (view spoiler)[ a traditional building material - clay mixed with straw and earth, generally built up in layers into thick walls. With some protection from rain, such as broad eaves, it is very hard wearing and has excellent thermal properties (hide spoiler)]

“He stood without moving, waiting for the sun to come out again. It returned and sparkled on the water, dazzling him. He had to close his eyes for a second, and when he opened them again, he’d forgotten the precise spot where the colour had revealed itself. Then he saw it once more, a minute patch of shining yellow dust.”In the year 1864, Joseph Blackstone, his new wife Harriet and his mother Lillian staked a claim in southern New Zealand, in the hopes of building a farm and a new life. They faced many hardships in this new land, but none seemed harder than temptation. The day that Joseph Blackstone discovered “the colour” (aka gold) on his property was the day when a fork appeared in the road before them. That hopeful path became clouded as Blackstone gambled their lives on a fleeting chance of riches.Rose Tremain presents a masterful story of hope, despair and self-determination in the New Zealand frontier. Her portrayal of the bride Harriet, with her longing to go out into the broader world, drew me in as a reader: “She didn’t dismount but stayed in the saddle, looking from horizon to horizon and finding no one and nothing but herself and the horse and their shadows of clouds. A bird turned above her, against the cold blue of the sky. Harriet saw it as the majestic witness of a sudden happiness, and she knew that in the time to come she would remember it.”When Harriet longs to run wild in this new land she has embraced, she finds that she is constricted by a marriage that is nothing like she hoped it would be. The land, the characters, the history and the marvelous story that Tremain presents makes The Colour a novel to be savored and remembered long after it is finished.

This is a story of the New Zealand Gold Rush of the 1860's. The three main characters are intensely realized to their very thought patterns and perceptions. And not only to their goals of happiness, but to how they view the new world and the old.Having read about 8 books set in Australia and N.Z. this year, I went back to this older Rose Tremain and was deliciously served. Good read, and also intense read- with mystical aspects in the plot of the child Edwin and his Aboriginal nurse maid. It's sad but completely captures the extremes of weather and change and spirit of N.Z. It just missed being a five star for me. The husband's degradation, depression, and reasoning process with both, along with his reactions and rationalizations- became just too much to know after awhile. Pioneering was rough and this was much like that process in real life history- not as many happy endings as presupposed.

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