Sacred Country

Front Cover
Atheneum, 1992 - Fiction - 323 pages
10 Reviews
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.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bodachliath - LibraryThing

A poignant tale following a group of characters as they attempt to break free of the constraints and expectations of an English rural backwater, by turns poignant, funny and beautifully observed. The central story of Mary/Martin, a boy growing up in a girl's body, is particularly moving. Read full review

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User Review  - maryreinert - LibraryThing

Normally books about people trying to "find themselves" do not appeal to me. I'm a reader of historical fiction - thus I discovered Rose Tremain through Music & Silence (Excellent) and Restoration ... Read full review


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About the author (1992)

Rose Tremain was born in London, England on August 2, 1943. She has written several novels including The Way I Found Her, Merivel: A Man of His Time, and The American Lover. Restoration was adapted into a movie in 1995 and a stage production in 2009. She has won numerous awards including the James Tait Memorial Prize and the Prix Femina Etranger for Sacred Country, the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award for Music and Silence, and the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2008 for The Road Home. She was made a CBE in 2007.

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