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I requested Trespass via my library’s ebook system, when I spotted the Booker long-lister during an idle browse. I then had to wait my turn long enough to find out that the book hadn’t made the short-list, a decision that I agree with. It’s a carefully crafted book, but one, strangely enough given the topics it deals with, that didn’t raise much emotion in me.

Set in the south of France, the novel explores the ties of the land and our relationship with nature, alongside the damaging effects of human relationships. Aramon Lunel occupies the family’s old noble farmhouse, while his sister Audrun is relegated to a modern, inelegant bungalow on the edge of the land. Both they and their relationship are damaged by the memories of incest, forced on Audrun and encouraged in Aramon by his Father who shared in it. 

Into this seething mix comes Anthony Verey, a has-been dealer of antiques who, through his own dependent relationship on his sister, is thrown into proximity with the farmhouse, and wants it, to buy a new beginning for himself. Aramon’s and Anthony’s greed (for different things) collide with Audrun’s love and ties to her land and ancestry. The resulting fallout destroys Anthony’s sister, Veronica’s relationship with her mediocre but loving Kitty, and her dream of creating a home for herself in France.

But the novel just didn’t move me. It was very carefully crafted: an exploration of the damage that families can do, especially pathological ones, and how that can reverberate down the years. And the imagery of the countryside, and the sense that one often gets when reading about the Irish connection with the land, of a oneness with nature, of the land and it rhythms mattering to the human cycle of life, is wonderfully depicted.

I found it though, too carefully crafted. It was no thriller, but it wasn’t a mystery either. The story unfolded, each piece building tightly on the other, and there was no sense of wonder, no shock and awe, just the laying out of a thought through plan. It may have been meant that way, but for me it wasn’t quite enough.

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