Sacred Country 1992 has rocketed into the list of my all time favourite books Part of my motivation for reading Sacred Country was the announcement that it has been chosen by City Reads in 2018 City Reads is Brighton Hove s annual citywide reading festival one book by one author is selected for the whole community to read, discuss, debate and creatively engage with in a series of special events, workshops and performances A lot of the reviews and summaries characterise Sacred Country as a tale about a transgender person Beginning in a Suffolk village in the early 1950s and moving through three decades, we come to know not only our central character Mary Martin born as a girl into the wrong body, but also the family and characters within that small community those who find happiness and their place in the world and those who struggle to do so.In actual fact the Mary Martin narrative is just one of a dozen or so different narratives Each of the small town characters hails from the area around the fictional village of Swaithey in rural Suffolk The stories start in the early 1950s and end in 1980 The overlapping narratives are told in a series of short chapters, which switch from the perspective of the various characters Mary Martin s tale is wonderful but so are the other stories and characters that Rose describes Outwardly these are fairly insignificant people going about their quiet existences, however all have interesting and rich inner lives, and this is what makes the book so compelling By the end of Sacred Country I had fallen in love with Estelle Ward, Walter Loomis, Pearl Harker, Thomas Cord, and Edward Harker, and was also fascinated by the large supporting cast that includes Sonny, Gilbert, Stern, Cleo, Pete, and many Sacred Country features a lot of tragedy and drama, however it is also extremely playful and humorous, and very poignant It s beautifully written, awash with memorable characters, firmly rooted in the different times and places that feature across a three decade narrative, and slowly but surely builds to a powerful and emotional conclusion.I m so glad I read it I adored it I look forward to reading of Rose Tremain s work.Wondrous Rose Tremain s best selling novels have won many awards, including the Baileys Women s Prize, the Whitbread Novel of the Year, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Prix Femina Etranger Restoration, the first of her novels to feature Robert Merivel, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize She lives in Norfolk and London with the biographer Richard Holmes.http rosetremain.co.uk It s a real masterpiece I was overwhelmed by Rose Tremain flawless smooth style of writing in this book I not only touched but lived each of the characters as if I were the angel watching him I may even knew things about the characters that the angels watching them may didn t know about them Well, if you are a guy who is fond of thrillers like me and you wanna read something different as a change, I recommend this book you will find it wrote on the cover that it s about Mary finding her self a boy Yet, when you finish the first 100 pages you will find out that it s far greater than a trans sex issue It s a life with its joy and sadness, falls and success And it s not only about Mary Ward It s about the Sacred Country.P.S try to read the first 100 pages as quick as possible There s something greater waiting for ya Sacred Country has at its core, the story of Mary Ward who in 1952, at six years old, while standing in the middle of a field in Suffolk in a silence intended to mark the death of the king, realises that she is a boy trapped in a girl s body The novel follows her struggle with the implications of this realisation, culminating thirty years later in hormone treatment and a double mastectomy The story is also filled with the voices of the people around Mary her brother, father, mother, grandfather and primary school teacher, her mother s friend and the man whose house that friend cleans, the friend s daughter, the local butcher and his brother, the slaughterman These characters make up a community of eccentrics and misfits whose absurdity the author nevertheless somehow invests with a kind of nobility.Using a variety of narrative modes and adopting a range of different voices, Rose Tremaine manages to take us right inside the skins of these characters in Mary s case a skin that she is trying to remake so it conforms to her sense of herself In the process we see the contrast between the grainy reality of the characters lives and the dreams to which they all aspire Poignant, moving and often painfully funny, Sacred Country is a novel about the way individuals are trapped by the weight of the past and by the expectations of others It s about the overwhelming need to forge an identity for oneself in the face of these expectations and the difficulty of finding, or even recognising happiness, when it arrives It is without doubt one of the finest novels I have ever read. I gained insights from this novel,which feels uncannily current given that it first came out in 1992.Six year old Mary Ward stands in a snowy field with her family to observe the two minute silence for the burial of King George VI But a screech from her pet guinea fowl near the farmhouse where they live elicits an answering secret cry from the heart of the small schoolgirl I am not Mary That is a mistake I am not a girl I m a boy And so a long journey begins, which is to be both painful and at times exhilarating, but which will lead Mary Ward gradually closer to her goal the life of an independent adult male by the name of Martin Both hindered and supported by a large cast of fairly odd ball characters, some of whom will also need to break free from their stifling Suffolk village, Mary s search for an authentic identity means leaving home for a decade long stay in nineteen sixties London And when her therapist suggests she leave, moving on, as Martin, to Nashville USA.Tremain treats all her characters with a rarely found evenhandedness and lightness of touch, which nevertheless can excavate the most expertly hidden secrets and bring some strange truths to the page Sacred Country tracks the struggles of a group of ordinary left behind people, a few of whom will succeed in giving form to their long thwarted dreams While their context within an isolated, rural coastal community is a great portrayal of a much neglected corner of post war England. Em , Com Seis Anos De Idade, Enquanto A Inglaterra Se Veste De Luto Pela Morte De Jorge VI, Mary Ward, Filha De Lavradores Pobres De Suffolk, Apercebe Se De Que, Apesar Das Apar Ncias, N O N O Quer Ser Uma Rapariga Desde Ent O, Ela Esfor Ar Se Por Se Transformar Em Martin, Um Rapaz Intr Pido, Terno E Viril Ao Longo Dos Anos V La Emos Perseguir O Seu Sonho, De Suffolk A Londres, Da Inglaterra Dos Beatles Am Rica ProfundaSonho Imposs Vel Talvez Mas Todos Aqueles Que A Rodeiam, Da Av , Morta Num Planador, A Walter, O Rapaz Do Talho Que Quer Ser Cantor De Country, N O Procuram Eles, Tamb M, Num Mundo Selvagem E Confuso, O Seu Pr Prio Reino Interdito Rose Tremain Oferece Nos Uma Obra Surpreendente, Que Foi Internacionalmente Ovacionada Pela Cr Tica E Recebeu Em Fran A, Em , O Pr Mio Femina Para O Melhor Romance Estrangeiro Procuro Na Literatura Do S Culo XX Um Outro Exemplo De Um Romance T O Belo, T O Generoso Pela Nobreza Sofredora Do Seu Olhar, Pela Justeza Sem Falha Do Seu Estio Fr Deric Vtoux, Le Nouvel Observateur I absolutely loved this It was so heartfelt and heartwarming but at the same time extremely funny and though provoking Tremain s writing style is so rich and intelligent and it made me laugh out loud several times But the story in general was much than what I expected it Tremain handles a large cast of characters with notable elegance managing to create multidimensional people that populate a rich and realistic world She takes the reader almost through 4 decades of these characters lives and she manages to create completely believable and fully fledged stories for each and every one of the characters At the centre of the book lies Mary or Martin, a young boy who was born in the body of a girl, but the characters that surround Martin are equally complicated and interesting Finishing the book you certainly feel that you ve read an epic work and I will miss the characters and the setting A great novel and I will certainly be reading of Rose Tremain s books in the future. 4.5 stars Another Rose Tremain novel I have enjoyed thoroughly I just love the stories she spins and the way she writes She can write about the most depressing subject and make it beautiful with her turn of phrase I was instantly engaged by the lives of the main protagonists in this novel It is one of those novels I found difficult to put down and so could not wait to get back to it And that, to me, is the sign of an excellent novel. 3.5Rose Tremain is one of my favourite authors, although I haven t read one of hers in a while I tend to save them up for times when I just want a good book.This was a good book, I enjoyed it so perhaps it says about my reading mood that I didn t enjoy it quite so much as I thought I would Or maybe Tremain has just come to the end of her ability to shake my reading world As time goes by, my reading preferences and desires and enjoyments change through experience.Sacred Country is about a Sussex town called Swaithey, which seems to be a rather far and remote place full of people trapped by its smallness.Mary at the age of six comes to a sudden realisation that she is not a girl as is her biological gender, but in fact a boy This sets her apart from everyone and alienates her from her family Then there is Walter, the son of the village butcher who longs to be singing country music in Tennessee rather than chopping meat in West Sussex Each character seems to be searching for their place whether it be in Swaithey or outside their place of safety and happiness.I kind of wish it was a in depth analysis of what it was like to be transgender, but then I can t really expect that of Tremain whose style of writing is wispy as ever It is the kind of writing that floats on ideas, feelings, senses and themes rather than anything overly concrete.In a way, Mary s journey to becoming male seems a little incidental to me Tremain wanted her to be different, alienated and what better form of alienation than from your own body I m not sure I truly believed that Mary was a boy inside Or maybe that is part of my own difficulty to see her as him when in the book she is always referred to as she, or as Mary How important is a pronoun in giving someone their identity Or perhaps it was her attachment to the baby Pearl that made me wonder Not that boys don t become attached to babies, I suppose, so maybe I am again gender stereotyping.Tremain never truly writes worlds which seem real, however, always as if from a plain just beyond reality I ve always liked this slightly side stepped style It is nothing grand, but offers a much organic perspective.The narration skims between person to person sometimes first person, sometimes third Mary sometimes in first, sometimes in third perhaps to illustrate her separation of gender and body Yet it feels natural.Nothing really to grab onto and pull you into the story, however An enjoyable read for the time spent on it, but nothing that took me away from my seat and offered me an alternate view. Loved this Loved this Loved this While the storyline and circumstances described are a bit somber, this was ultimately a really inspiring read You follow the life of a remarkable young girl who from the age of six knows that she is really meant to be a boy The main story is interesting enough, but there is an inter weaving of characters, each with their own remarkable character development and growth The relationship between Mary and her grandfather is beautiful to read And very simply, the strongest message to come from this is loving people for who they really are and surviving when much seems lost. Steam began to come off the shoulders of my coat And I had a ravenous hunger I knew that at the reception there would be shrimp vol au vents and bits of cheddar cheese and pineapple on cocktail sticks and I thought this is how life is we are tempted from our chosen paths by the smallest things We deserve to die.
Rose Tremain s best selling novels have won many awards, including the Baileys Women s Prize, the Whitbread Novel of the Year, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Prix Femina Etranger Restoration, the first of her novels to feature Robert Merivel, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize She lives in Norfolk and London with the biographer Richard Holmes.
- 336 pages
- Sacred Country
- Rose Tremain
- 13 November 2019 Rose Tremain