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.