Share for friends:

The Road Home (2007)

The Road Home (2007)

Book Info

3.82 of 5 Votes: 4
Your rating
0701177934 (ISBN13: 9780701177935)
chatto and windus

About book The Road Home (2007)

The plot is fairly straightforward: Lev has recently emigrated from an unnamed Eastern European country to find work in London. He meets people in this unfamiliar city that help him find his way and, when tragedy strikes back home, he finds a way to combine what he's learned in his new life with what he loves about his old life to save the day. Not groundbreaking stuff. However, there are virtues. Tremain's descriptions, when they aren't "and"ing themselves to death, are so detailed and engrossing you can't help but find yourself knee-deep in Lev's world.If that were all, I would have said this was an average story told in an above average way and moved on. However, that isn't all. More than once I read things in this otherwise average story that still make my skin crawl just thinking about them. Our main character nearly strangles his romantic interest at a party, and later forces himself on her in a child's bedroom. It's left intentionally unclear whether or not the act was consensual. He laments to his friend that he's pretty sure he raped this woman, but this is met with little more than an "oh, darn", and the book fully expects us to still be sympathetic to his character.At another point we're introduced to two gay Chinese men, who are portrayed as incredibly feminine and childish. The childish part is what bothered me. They seduce Lev while he's drunk, insisting that they're providing a service, just helping him out, giving sexual favors to make Lev feel better. Their touch is described as "like a girls", and when Lev leaves them, he cuddles them "like children" and thanks them for their services. The whole thing just felt very predatory and creepy.By the time the happy ending rolled around, I wasn't rooting for the main character anymore. It would be one thing if we were meant to feel conflicted by Lev's behavior, but the book makes it pretty clear that Lev is supposed to be the hero. Flawed, maybe, but in an "aren't we all" sort of way. Unfortunately, I lost all empathy the minute he described the woman he potentially assaulted as "his animal" with "irresistible greed for the male..."Not great.Even more complaining here.

This is the tale of Lev an immigrant from an unnamed Eastern European accession country comes to London to seek his fortune, He is 42, his wife has recently died and he leaves his daughter, Maya with his mother. There is an element of the fairy tale about this and we see London as a foreign and unfamiliar land through Lev’s eyes. Most of the people who are kindest to Lev are also similar to him. Lev works in a variety of restaurants and take aways and for a brief while on the land in East Anglia. He also helps out in a care home for older people, manages to fall in and out of love and finds a friend in a divorced Irishman called Christy. Lev sends money home and develops a dream of returning to his own country to open his own restaurant; if only if he could raise enough money. There you have it; there are some engaging characters, especially Christy and Rudi (Lev’s best friend back home) and it does feel a little like a fairytale. There are a couple of coincidences and plot turns which reinforce this. At times the dialogue doesn’t sit easily and there is one particular moment of violence which strikes a discordant note. The reader spends most of the book in Lev’s head and he is likeable until one act which feels very out of character and is difficult to reconcile with what has gone before. Apart from that one note the characters are flawed and loveable and there is a sense of community amongst the poor and oppressed which is illuminating and uplifting, sad and melancholy at the same time. There were some serious flaws and irritations but I’m a sucker for a fairy tale and it provided a different perspective on my country which was welcome and thought-provoking.

Do You like book The Road Home (2007)?

Here's the thing about fiction: I could read for hours about the plight of immigrants and still not know what it felt like to BE an immigrant. But within a few pages of this beautiful, heartbreaking novel I could empathize with Lev and begin to imagine what it would feel like to start over in a foreign place (for Lev, London is his new home). I have lived all my life in two states in Western US. I love to travel, but I always know home is waiting there for me. What a hardship it would be to leave your country and try to make a better life in a strange land and often deal with hostile people. I know I used the word "heartbreaking", but don't be put off by that. There are moments of comedy and joy as well. It's not a downer. At one point he is given a copy of Hamlet and it was delightful to watch how he came to understand Shakespeare. There is also a cell phone scene that I shall never forget. Eek!This is a timely book and it deals with an issue that I am passionate about. Highly recommended. Another THANK YOU to Simon Savidge for the recommendation!

The plot of the book is pretty straightforward. Lev, a 42 year old widowed man, has recently emigrated from an unnamed Eastern European country to find work and money in London. He meets a series of people who help him along the way; encounters a number of obstacles . . . There are (as many people have pointed out) various inaccuracies in the book and a couple of glaring bad characterizations. These did not however distract from the overall enjoyment of the book.Rose Tremain said that she talked to Polish immigrants to get a feel for how moving to England was for them. In that sense, I do think I gained more insight and a little more sensitivity.There was some snatches of humour - a bit of a dig at the pretentious English art theater set which I enjoyed sharing with my husband (we have a differing opinion).Lev was not a particularly likeable character. I think what I liked was some of the odd characters who appeared in the book and the feeling that there are some nice people around who are still willing to do some random acts of kindness (restored some faith in mankind).All in all, an enjoyable and memorable read.
—Maureen Farrimond

I ordered The Road Home with the usual expectations that one would have for a book by an admired author. But, oh dear. It is unbelievable at so many levels, as well as schematic and sentimental. There are irritating little mistakes of fact that Rose Tremain shouldn't make: London underground trains running on Christmas Day; a man's mobile is stolen, he gets another and is instantly rung on it, even though of course the sim card will have remained in the stolen phone so no one would know his new number...and so on. But then, take her main character, Lev, who comes from an unnamed Baltic country which has just become an EU accession state: he was latterly a manual worker in a wood mill, until it closed because there were no trees left to process, yet his speech patterns (in his native tongue) veer from the almost stupid to the incredibly wordy; his inner life doesn't seem to belong to a man of his life experience and background. He falls for a young, plump kitchen worker in an upmarket restaurant where he does the washing up. She speaks of 'emporia'! Really? I doubt she'd know the word, and if she did, she'd say 'emporiums'. There is something astonishingly cloth-eared in the dialogue, as if all the accents and dialect Tremain gives her characters came out of a handbook.But it's plot more than anything that enrages. One can see every twist and turn coming, down to the gift to Lev of money from a wealthy old woman in a nursing home for whom he has cooked good meals; down to the uncanny physical similarity between a young waitress he meets on his return home to his beloved but deceased wife; down to his keen-eyed observation of the cooking that goes on in the kitchen where he washed up to his own future proficiency as a chef. I closed the book in something approaching fury.

download or read online

Read Online

Write Review

(Review will shown on site after approval)

Other books by author Rose Tremain

Other books in category Fiction