Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Road Home by Rose Tremain (Jackie's Review)

The Road Home tells the story of Lev, a migrant worker from Eastern Europe, travelling to England in the hope of finding enough money to support his mother and daughter, back in his home country. Still grieving from the death of his wife, he tries to build a new life for himself in a country where he doesn’t know anyone, and struggles to understand many of the English customs.

The detailed observations of London made me see my own country in a new light. Some of the things that I see every day were described so vividly that I saw them through new eyes, those of a migrant worker coming to the UK for the first time, and what I saw was both unsettling and true.

The writing style was reminiscent of A Fine Balance, which is very high praise from me, as Rohinton Mistry’s book is currently my favourite of all time. I loved the detail, and the emotion behind the words.

I’m not sure how realistic many of Lev’s experiences were; opportunities continually seemed to land in front of him, and I’m sure life for a real migrant worker would actually have been much tougher, especially in the first few weeks.

I was a little disappointed with the ending. It was so neat that it was as if the final chapter had been written first, and then everything else fanned out backwards from this point, rather than a natural progression from beginning to end. It was also a bit predictable from about the halfway point, but I’m willing to forgive these few niggles, as this really is a great book. It is packed with emotion, and enforces the message that family and friendships are more important that anything else in the world.

This book isn’t for everyone, as it is slow in places, contains a lot of observational passages, and the number of stereotypes will make some people cringe. I loved it, despite it’s flaws. It is a worthy winner of the Orange prize, and I recommend it to all lovers of well written fiction.


Originally reviewed here.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

2009 Lists Announced...

The shortlist for the Orange Prize for New Writers 2009 has been announced and includes:
  • An Equal Stillness, by Francesca Kay
  • Miles From Nowhere, by Nami Mun
  • The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, by Ann Weisgarber

Also the longlist for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2009 has been announced and includes:
  • The Household Guide for Dying, by Debra Adelaide
  • Girl in a Blue Dress, by Gaynor Arnold
  • Their Finest Hour and a Half, by Lissa Evans
  • Blonde Roots, by Bernardine Evaristo
  • Scottsboro, by Ellen Feldman
  • Strange Music, by Laura Fish
  • Love Marriage, by V.V. Ganeshananthan
  • Intuition, by Allegra Goodman
  • The Wilderness, by Samantha Harvey
  • The Invention of Everything Else, by Samantha Hunt
  • The Lost Dog, by Michelle de Kretser
  • Molly Fox’s Birthday, by Deirdre Madden
  • A Mercy, by Toni Morrison
  • The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight, by Gina Ochsner
  • Home, by Marilynne Robinson
  • Evening is the Whole Day, by Preeta Samarasan
  • Burnt Shadows, by Kamila Shamsie
  • American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • The Flying Troutmans, by Miriam Toews
  • The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, by Ann Weisgarber

Look for the shortlist for this prize on April 21st.