, 1992 - Fiction
- 323 pages
Over the last decade Rose Tremain has shown herself to be one of England's most gifted and exhilarating young writers. The Swimming Pool Season was hailed by The Washington Post as a "seductive book... (Rose Tremain) has a marvelous wit, a generous - not cynical - humor. Her voice is rich, lush, elegant". The Sunday Times (London) says, "The Swimming Pool Season exhibits every literary talent Rose Tremain is very good, she can do anything she likes now". The Independent called Restoration a "most beautiful and original novel" and The New York Times proclaimed it "nothing less than superb". With her new book, Sacred Country, already a popular and critical success in her native land, Rose Tremain has written a novel of extraordinary feeling, humor, and vision that should win for her the larger American readership she so richly deserves. "On February 15th, 1952, at two o'clock in the afternoon, the nation fell silent for two minutes in honour of the dead King. It was the day of his burial". So we begin, in a snowy Suffolk field where the Ward family stands close together, offering their prayers for King George VI's passage to heaven. It is at this moment that Mary Ward, age six, realizes with perfect clarity and conviction that she is a boy, not a girl, and that it is her destiny to be a man. Over the next three decades we watch - amused, saddened, profoundly moved by Mary (who will become Martin) - as she pursues this elusive identity, first in rural England, then in the London of the sixties and, finally, in America. And if Sacred Country is the story of Mary/Martin, it is also the story of those around her, men and women whose only hope of salvation also lies in some recognition of thatself-within-the-self: the soul. They include her mother, Estelle, who will periodically check into the local asylum... Mary's brother, who has his own particular vision... and a neighbor's son, who, enchanted by the music of Jimmie Rodgers and other country singers, will make a pilgrimage to Nashville.