Tuesday, 13 January 2009

The Road Home

How splendid to come across a contemporary novel that falls effortlessly into the categories of 'couldn't put down' and 'must tell others'.

Lev is a fortyish semi-skilled worker who, like thousands of others, rides the long-distance bus from his native eastern Europe. He arrives at Victoria Coach Station, with a suitcase, a few pounds and a yearning to better himself and his family.

Lev, still grieving following his wife's death from cancer, has left his daughter and mother in his unnamed homeland.

A lesser writer might have been content with creating a sort of 'Every-migrant' figure. Lev is much more than that - complex, troubled, stubborn, determined.

What follows is an unsentimental account of life at the ragged edges of today's Britain. Little victories, crushing setbacks, until Lev lands a job washing dishes in an up-and-coming restaurant.

Tremain has done her homework about the catering industry - the knife-edge margin between success and failure, the feverish intensity of work in a high-end kitchen, the heartless competitiveness, the occasional moments of grace and generosity.

If a mark of a good novel is that it changes how you think about other people, then The Road Home is a definite success.


Ali said...

How interesting Mr Gnome that you also enjoyed this book. Our Book Circle and Pudding Club (emphasis on the Pudding Club) recently read Rose Tremain's novel and gave it a 'thumbs up'.

Philippe de Paris said...

Yes, great book. Just finished it, and no, couldn't put it down. I like Lev!