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The Colour by Rose Tremain
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The Colour (2003)

by Rose Tremain

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8534310,511 (3.78)300
  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
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English (41)  Danish (1)  French (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
This was removed from the first edition of the 1001 Books list and it’s not hard to see why. Although Tremain can write a decent yarn, there’s nothing here that I could see which has pushed the boundaries of the genre of the novel.

The story focusses on western settlers in New Zealand at the turn of the last century. To set the scene, there are the usual hardships mostly caused by the typical mistakes of someone in a completely alien environment assuming they know what’s what in the face of local advice. These serve to reduce the protagonists to desperate measures which drive them to the banks of a river far from where they started risking everything in search of gold. Along the way, there’s plenty of marital tension, a feeling that each character is a world unto themselves which no one else can fathom and, for any guilt-ridden white novelist trespassing on the Antipodean setting, the obligatory side-story with a local native.

The Independent review on the cover of my edition said that Tremain has “an enormous story to tell.” I will admit that she tries very hard to cram in an awful lot into 350 pages. Ironically, for a novel which has a lot of gold mining in it, she didn’t dig deep enough for me. The novel jumps around all over the place and never seems to settle on telling any one character’s story thoroughly enough for me to feel that Tremain really has any incisive power to explore the human condition.

Although she may have borrowed many of Tremain’s ideas, I felt that Kate Grenville’s later novel The Secret River does a much better job of exploring the issues of being an early settler down under. As for the gold rush theme, I’m not really sure what, if anything, it lent to the novel except to add in plot what was missing in pathos.

So, a light read if you’re about to get on a plane; don’t expect more than to be entertained. ( )
  arukiyomi | Jan 29, 2016 |
The Colour Rose Tremain
3 Stars

Told mainly through the eyes of 2 central characters Harriet and Joseph Blackstone this is the story of the 1860's New Zealand gold rush and how The Colour (gold) destroys the land in which it is found as well as those who seek it.

Harriet, Joseph and his mother Lillian have left England for a bright new future in New Zealand the plan is they will build there own farmstead and live a good life from the land, however problems arise from the moment they arrive. Lillian is unhappy in the new atmosphere having never wanted to leave England, Joseph is arrogant ignoring local knowledge and building his home from the worst material in the worst possible location and Harriet discovers the old adage marriage in haste repent at leisure to be too true, their problems really start when Joseph discovers gold powder and gets infected with the fever distrusting everyone and caring for nothing except the Colour.

What I liked;

The descriptions of New Zealand
Chen's dedication to his vegetable garden
Lillian's conversion
The Orchard's
Pare and Edwin and the superstitions around them
The idea that the only people who get rich from a gold rush are those who work on the periphery and don't actually try to prospect gold

What I disliked
Joseph from the first until the last he was despicable and self obsessed
Will Sefton and his role in the camps, the fact it was needed
The way the obsession with gold destroyed everything, family, love and the country

I found this to be an average kind of book not one I would rave however I did enjoy reading it and found some areas of it very interesting ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
Interesting story but it moved a little slowly. I would recommend this to some readers ( )
  turtlesleap | Jan 9, 2016 |
"For gold is deceitful; this he was beginning to understand. It is as duplicitous as a girl. It shows itself and beckons. Within its first gleam lies the promise of more, much more, and so men go forward, cajoling the earth, breaking their backs and their hearts, but very often they are rewarded with nothing – or almost nothing: just the very little needed to keep hope and longing alive." (85)

In search of a new life, Joseph Blackstone, along with his bride, Harriet, and his widowed mother, Lilian, sails from England to New Zealand in 1864. But Blackstone is a hardheaded, callous man, and his homestead is doomed to failure. When he discovers strains of gold, “the colour,” in the creek passing through his property, he abandons both farm and family in pursuit of riches. The gold-fields, he will shortly learn, are a moral cesspool. Harriet, now alone in a strange land, must find her own way. Fearlessly (almost), she sets out on her own adventure.

In addition to the parallel stories of the Blackstones, Tremain skillfully integrates both Chinese and Maori elements into The Colour using secondary characters: Maori woman, Pare, and Chinese gardener, Pao Yi. The relationships between characters, primary and secondary, are fascinating: like gold, they are deceitful and duplicitous.

Tremain’ writing is fabulous, and I look forward to more of her work. Highly recommended. ( )
7 vote lit_chick | May 4, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (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.
 

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tremain, Roseprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bron, EleanorNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:41 -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

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