Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Colour by Rose Tremain

The Colour (2003)

by Rose Tremain

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
769None12,013 (3.75)262
  1. 20
    The Secret River by Kate Grenville (jayne_charles)
    jayne_charles: More Antipodean colonial pioneers
  2. 00
    The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton by Jane Smiley (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: Both these books focus on pioneer women, whose previous lives have done nothing to prepare them for the new difficulties and tasks which face them, and how they match up to their new life.
  3. 00
    Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: Similar (literally) 'builing a new life' story on the other side of the world. Roderick Blackstone (The Colour) has a gambling "System"/debts

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 262 mentions

English (38)  Danish (1)  French (1)  All languages (40)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
It has taken me a while to read this book, had troubl getting into it, at first. Read a few pages, put it away, picked it up again. That lasted untill I had more room in my head to be busy with Joseph's and Harriet's struggle to start a new life in New Zealand, untill their lifes crossed the ones of the people on the Orchard farm. Then the story itself got more interesting, even a bit adventurous.
At times sad, I think this is a beautifully written story about man's struggles. Greed, love, betrayal, adventure, loyalty, they all are part of the story that is told, mixed with desciptions of New Zealand's harsh climate and part of the history of gold digging there.

Really liked the book! ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Oct 15, 2013 |
All of the characters in this book are believeable although not necessarily likeable. Harriet has a strength about her that was necessary if a woman was to survive during these hard times. Even her mother-in-law Lillian, who at first meeting appears to be weak and self-centered learns to adapt to the hard circumstances of their life. Joseph is a complex, distant, and distrusting man filled with a guilt that he himself does not seem to understand. The setting of New Zealand with its rugged terrain seems to almost become a character. All of the realistic and harsh aspects of this novel pulled me into the story. However, the mysterious "spiritual" world of the Maori nurse and her relationship to young Edwin seems out of place in the story. I was disappointed in this aspect of the book. The contrast between how the Maori reacted to the environment around them and how the English settlers reacted could have better developed. Overall, a really good historical fiction read ( )
  maryreinert | Aug 16, 2013 |
A rollicking but slightly long-winded story about a couple who moves to NZ in the late 19th C to start a new life. The husband Joseph becomes obsessed with finding gold, and his wife Harriet eventually follows him in his search. She is less fanatical in her quest for gold, and is more in search of a good relationship than the "colour", as gold is referred to. He is blinded by his need to strike gold and thinks that with riches, he can redeem himself for his past wrongdoings in the mother country.

What I loved about the story, was that it was local. It is partly set in Christchurch, and also mentions Okuku, and towns Kaiapoi and Rangiora. One of which I grew up in. Also towns on the West Coast that I have been to lots of times, Hokitika and Kaniere. NZers often see ourselves as being "history-less" as our symbols of history (buildings etc) are scarcely more than 150 years or so old. But this book gave interesting and personal histories of my area and the people who made it what it is now. The passages concerning the native bush, the dramatic mountain landscapes, the birdlife, the flippant and ever-changing weather conditions were all very familiar to me, and it felt good to know exactly what the author was on about.

There were some lovely passages in this work, but the story to me seemed too convoluted. It the second half of the story were the whole story, and half the characters from the first half were excised, I think this book could have packed more punch. Overall a nice read, with a captivating story. ( )
  Ireadthereforeiam | May 11, 2013 |
Joseph and Harriet Blackstone's marriage seems to be doomed before it begins. Shortly after their marriage, the 30-something couple leaves England to homestead in New Zealand. Joseph's mother, Lilian, accompanies them. Joseph builds a temporary cob house (which sounds a lot like the sod houses of the U.S. plains) to shelter them through the first winter. Before the farm is established, Joseph catches gold fever and heads off for the west coast of New Zealand's South Island to find his fortune. Joseph's absence results in some unimaginable challenges for Harriet.

New Zealand's geography and climate seem to drive the plot of the novel. That was a good thing for me, since I chose it for the New Zealand setting. I didn't find any of the human characters particularly likeable. Joseph is ruled by his passions, particularly fear, greed, and lust. Harriet might seem like a saint in comparison, but she isn't. She is more coldly calculating. Although she usually has the self-discipline to do the right thing, it's clear that she is capable of great wrong but has the will to avoid courses of action that are not in her best interest in the long run. Neither Joseph nor Harriet seem to wrestle with moral questions. While the New Zealand history was fascinating, by the time I reached the end of the book I'd had more of Joseph and Harriet than I could comfortably stand. ( )
  cbl_tn | May 11, 2013 |
The Colour is set in the 1860's New Zealand, a time of great immigration and a gold rush for that country.

Lilian, Joseph and Harriet Blackstone arrive by boat from England to Christchurch, New Zealand. Lilian Blackstone, Joseph's mother, is a widow ruined by her husband's gambling and has little choice but to follow her son. Joseph, as we gradually discover , is escaping the consequences of a sordid crime he committed in England. Oblivious to Joseph's past, Harriet is a 34 year old former governess, seeking her own home and hearth, who has hastily married Joseph.

Joseph initially starts with good intentions, as he says to Harriet:"We will not cling to familiar ways. We will imagine ourselves reborn over there. On the acres I am buying, everything will begin afresh." p15. However,Joseph's intentions quickly go awry.

He builds a " house" with sub- par materials, using calico fabric for the the interior walls. The house is far from civilization and any neighbours.Against the advice of others in the area, Joseph builds " Cob House" high on the hills, where winds and weather batter it.

Harriet, a strong, resourceful, admirable woman , bears up well and adapts to her new surroundings, planting a garden, procuring a few hens, a donkey and a cow. She also makes a great effort to meet and get to know her closest neighbours, a small family at the well built Orchard House. Meantime, mother and mother - in law Lilian despairs of the ill built house , the lack of culture and finds herself longing to return to England.

Joseph built the house by a creek for a water supply. He initially plans to create a pond at the creek, but in digging there, he finds a bit of "colour", that is a bit of gold dust. From then on Joseph is a man obsessed, spending months digging a the creek, neglecting all else and hiding his true reason for digging at the creek from both his wife and mother. Harriet and Joseph grow further apart, and in time Joseph's leaves Cob House, the farm and his wife and mother for goldfields over the Southern Alps. Joseph's lack of moral scruples worsen in the gold fields, and he is avoided by the men there. Joseph is a man driven by desire and greed.

The story touches on Maori culture, the Chinese who also immigrated to New Zealand, but not in a large way. There is some magical realism with regards to both the Maori Culture, and the Chinese man, Pao Yi. It was interesting, but not altogether believable to me.

A dark and interesting piece of historical fiction, and one which focuses on both the physical and moral wilderness that the Blackstone family encounter in the New Zealand frontier . The focus is on the moral wilderness, and that is what made the novel most interesting and darkly intriguing.

4 stars. ( )
10 vote vancouverdeb | Mar 14, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
It's an engrossing novel, an adventure story with a sensitive side; Robert Louis Stevenson with a fit of the vapours. Since Tremain's writing is celebrated for its richness, its sensuousness, it's a relief to report that the comparatively muted colours of The Colour are no obstacle to her readability. If anything, they allow it to shine even more brightly.
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Gold diggings disorganise society, induce a moral blight, divert activity from saner enterprise and encourage a disagreeable immigration of the scum of China. ~ Lyttleton Times, New Zealand

Gold has been all in all to us. ~ West Coast Times, New Zealand
For the Domino team, with all my love
First words
The coldest winds came from the south and the Cob House had been built in the pathway of the winds.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Publisher series

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312423101, Paperback)

Newlyweds Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from England to New Zealand, along with Joseph's mother Lilian, in search of new beginnings and prosperity. But the harsh land near Christchurch where they settle threatens to destroy them almost before they begin. When Joseph finds gold in a creek bed, he hides the discovery from both his wife and mother, and becomes obsessed with the riches awaiting him deep in the earth. Abandoning his farm and family, he sets off alone for the new goldfields over the Southern Alps, a moral wilderness where many others, under the seductive dreams of the "colour," rush to their destinies and doom.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:57 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

'The Colour' is a sweeping saga of sacrifice and greed set during the mid-nineteenth century gold rush in New Zealand.

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
21 avail.
86 wanted
3 pay3 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.75)
1 2
1.5 2
2 8
2.5 7
3 45
3.5 20
4 87
4.5 11
5 34


Two editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 89,425,585 books! | Top bar: Always visible