The Colour A Novel

Rose Tremain




Trade Paperback

400 Pages


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Booklist Editors' Choice

Rose Tremain has been acclaimed internationally as one of our finest historical novelists. Restoration was short-listed for the Booker Prize and Music & Silence won England's prestigious Whitbread Novel of the Year Award. Her new novel, The Colour, is a gripping drama of love and greed set during the mid-nineteenth-century Gold Rush in New Zealand.

When newlyweds Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from England along with Joseph's mother, Lilian, they are in search of prosperous new beginnings. But they are ill-prepared for the obstacles they must face, and the harsh land near Christchurch where they settle threatens to destroy them almost before they can begin. A difficult first winter exacerbates the growing tension between husband and wife, and strengthens Lilian's determination to return to England and leave this strange and unforgiving new country behind.

Then Joseph finds gold in the creek behind their small farm, and, possessed by the promise of riches awaiting him deep in the earth, he hides his discovery from his wife and mother. When the creek fails to fulfill his hopes, he sets off alone for the goldfields over the Southern Alps, joining the hundreds of others who are under the seductive spell of the "colour", the miners' slang for this elusive mineral. Harriet struggles to manage the farm alone, but eventually decides to follow her husband to the gold diggings. On her own journey westward, she makes a startling discovery that illuminates the emptiness of her marriage at the same time that it holds the tantalizing promise of a future she could never have imagined.

Panoramic in scope but exquisitely attuned to the fragile emotional terrain that underlies all relationships, The Colour beautifully captures the rugged landscape of New Zealand while it forces us to question the price we will pay in our search for happiness.


Praise for The Colour

"In this novel that so skillfully makes use of the formulas of melodrama only to discard them and surprise us, Tremain's singular combination of the passionate and the sardonic strikes one as a marriage of say, Emily Brontë and Paul Bowles. The Colour is smart, lumpy with sentiment, brutal, and oddly funny—a sort of carnival in hell."—John Vernon, The New York Times Book Review

"The Colour is a beautifully written novel that teems with life on every page."—The Boston Globe

"Fully rounded human beings and a nimble prose style . . . Peerless imagination."—Newsday

"Extraordinary . . . a wonderful novel about change and transformation, love and desire, the valuable and the useless, East versus West, and t he living and the dead."—Chicago Tribune

"The Colour is storytelling in the grand style . . . Tremain has woven a hypnotic, compelling tale set in one of the most beautiful counties on earth."—The Houston Chronicle

"Readers familiar with British writer Tremain's magisterial historical novel, Restoration, or her psychologically acute study of madness, Music & Silence, will not be surprised at the accuracy of historical detail in this elegant and dramatic novel about the mid-19th-century gold rush in New Zealand or by her nuanced portrait of the disintegration of a marriage. Writing at the top of her form, she tells a complex story centering on two immigrants to New Zealand, whose recent marriage represents new hopes for both of them . . . With its combination of vivid historical adventure and sensual, late-blooming romance, it's hard to see how this novel can miss winning a new audience for the immensely talented Tremain."—Publishers Weekly

"Tremain does a fine job exploring the culture of the Rush: the noise, the stink, the thrill of the 'homeward bounder' . . . True to form, Tremain doesn't confine herself to the white settler's viewpoint: other important characters include a Maori woman guided by the spirit world, and a Chinese market gardener who will play a crucial plot role and experience a transformation. Transformations, indeed, abound in this brittle world where everything is possible and yet everything is at risk. The result is a page-turner that's also a work of startling beauty."—Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Rose Tremain

  • Rose Tremain is the author of nine novels, including Music & Silence, Restoration, and The Way I Found Her. She is the recipient of the Whitbread Novel Prize, the Prix Femina, and the Sunday Express "Book of the Year" Award. Her work has been translated into twenty languages. Tremain lives in Norfolk, England, with the biographer Richard Holmes.





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