By Gwendolyn Dawson
Beginning with the very first chapter, in which a young girl makes a shocking discovery in a creek while on a school field trip, Trespass overflows with foreboding and suspense. The novel progresses in two alternating story lines. In one, an alcoholic man living in the Cévennes region of southern France is seduced by the money he can make by selling his crumbling ancestral estate, a sale that is vehemently opposed by his sister who lives in a small bungalow next door. In the other storyline, a sophisticated London antiques dealer decides to wrap up his failing business and to relocate to the Cévennes to be closer to his beloved sister. These two narratives move slowly towards each other and eventually intersect in surprising and violent ways. As its title suggests, Trespass is full of encroachments, including those affecting the land, the body, and the mind.
Tremain effectively harnesses the mysteries of the remote French landscape to enhance the tone of ominous dread that pervades this novel. The alternating narratives propel the story forward, and, although the novel labors under an unrelenting grimness, the momentum never flags. Trespass is a haunting and beautifully written novel with a satisfying, but not too neat, ending.
Trespass is published in the United States by W.W. Norton.
Gwendolyn Dawson is the founder of Literary License. Her reviews appear here and there regularly