320 pages, 7.78 × 5.12 × 0.92 in
July 22, 2008
Random House UK
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0099478463
ISBN - 13: 9780099478461
From the Publisher
In the story of Lev, newly arrived in London from Eastern Europe, Rose Tremain has written a wise and witty book about the contemporary migrant experience.
On the coach, Lev chose a seat near the back and he sat huddled against the window, staring out at the land he was leaving. . . . Lev is on his way to Britain to seek work, so that he can send money back to Eastern Europe to support his mother and little daughter.
Readers will become totally involved with his story, as he struggles with the mysterious rituals of “Englishness,” and the fashions and fads of the London scene. We see the road Lev travels through Lev’s eyes, and we share his dilemmas: the intimacy of his friendships, old and new; his joys and sufferings; his aspirations and his hopes of finding his way home, wherever home may be.
About the Author
Rose Tremain’s books have won many prizes including the Whitbread Novel of the Year, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Prix Femina Etranger, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Angel Literary Award and the Sunday Express Book of the Year.
From the Author
Your books generally seem to require great leaps of the imagination – in previous books you have taken the reader into the minds of a 13-year-old boy loose in Paris, a visitor to the 17th century Danish court, a young woman caught up in the New Zealand gold rush, and many more diverse people. The Road Home is no exception – you take us into the mind of an economic migrant from Eastern Europe trying to carve out a niche in an inhospitable London. Is this a challenge you deliberately set yourself? Why do you think you choose such diverse characters to inhabit?
A. The central character of my first novel, Sadler’s Birthday, was a 76 year-old man. Readers found this surprising (I was 30 when I wrote the book), but in this gap between myself and my creation lay immense imaginative freedom, and it was this that gave me the courage to embark on the book. Of course, I drew on observations of elderly men that I knew (my grandfather in particular), but the need to imagine Sadler’s feelings, memories and longings was what kept me interested in the story. And since then, I’ve deliberately built my fictions around characters who are distant from me, in gender, place or time - or all of these. The moment I get close to my own biography, I feel boredom (and even mild self-dislike) creeping up on me and so my writing loses pace.
What research did you do for the novel?
A. The most important piece of research I did for The Road Home was to
“One of the finest writers in English.”
“Tremain is a magnificent story-teller.”
–Independent on Sunday
STARTING POINTS FOR YOUR DISCUSSION
- ‘Through Lev’s eyes, we see London as the incomer views it and it is not an attractive sight: alternately moneyed and poverty-stricken, its inhabitants obsessed by status and success.’ (Edward Marriott, Observer)
Do you agree with Marriot’s assessment of how Lev views London, and do you feel Tremain paints a realistic picture?
- In her author interview Rose Tremain says ‘I’ve deliberately built my fictions around characters who are distant from me, in gender, place or time - or all of these. The moment I get close to my own biography, I feel boredom (and even mild self-dislike) creeping up on me’.
Does this reflect your own feelings as a reader? Do you prefer novels which reflect your own experiences or take you somewhere else? What do you think you have in common with Lev?
- Food is a very important motif in the novel. How does Tremain illustrate Lev’s journey in terms of food? Why do you think she only begins to describe the food of his own country towards the end?
- In the author interview Tremain says that in her view, ‘most Brits want to be welcoming to migrants, but have worries – or indeed extreme anxieties – of their own which sometimes prevent them from doing this’.
Do you agree? What worries and anxieties do you think Tremain is referring to and how are these played out in the novel?
- Have you ever lived in another country? If so, how far did your experiences reflect Lev’s? What did you find challenging about establishing a new life in a different culture? Did it affect the way you read the novel?
If not, do you think you could ever do what Lev did? What would you find hardest to leave behind?
- Lev’s relationship with Sophie becomes very dark when he turns violent towards her. Why do you think he has such difficult relationships with women?
- In the end Lev returns to his family and builds a life with his new found skills and money. Why do you think that the novel has ended in such an idealistic way? Do you think that this ending is possible for immigrants?