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Fat and fifty, educated only to be a wife and mother, Ruby Constad has reached a point of crisis. Her husband, Leon, lies in a nursing home after a stroke that has left him paralysed; her grown-up children are gone. In her anguish Ruby appeals for help to a half-remembered figure from her colonial Indian girlhood - Sister Benedicta. Gradually the events leading up to Leon's stroke are revealed and a woman emerges whose capacity to love, hope and understand are far greater than she realises.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099284079
ISBN-10: 0099284073
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 12mm)
Pages: 192
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 2-Sep-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


US Kirkus Review » By the English author of the ingenious and touching Sadler's Birthday (1977), this second novel scans the wintry inner landscape of Ruby, fat and 50: her husband, successful lawyer Leon, is dying in a nursing home, and her two grown children are moribund too - spiritually and emotionally. In letters addressed to the ghost of a nun who taught at her girlhood convent school in India, Ruby reflects on her chilly present and past: her Indian childhood as the unloved daughter of a Colonel and his brittle wife, two of the ruling English who "walled out a continent"; her haunting dreams of cold, snowy places - like the Norfolk cottage of her daughter Alexandra, a cottage Alexandra shared with a lesbian lover; the even greater distress when Alexandra and her brother Noel became incestuous lovers; a few moments of doomed love (a wonderful godmother), sun, and laughter; and now the visits to dying Leon, whose twisted silences and mumbled messages only calcify the sterility of the marriage. Finally Leon dies, and Ruby is free but not in spirit - not until she learns to step out from the brambles of self-castigation. Within the immobility and pallor of Ruby's lumpish lovelessness, Tremain has caught - with nicety and grace - the color and movement of her wounded but struggling consciousness. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Rose Tremain

Rose Tremain's work has been translated into fourteen languages. She has won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Prix Femina Etranger (Sacred Country), the Sunday Express Book of the Year Award (Restoration, also shortlisted for the Booker Prize) , the Dylan Thomas Short Story Award (The Colonel's Daughter), the Giles Cooper Award (for the radio play Temporary Shelter) and the Angel Literary Award (twice). Her bestselling historical novel Restoration was made into a film in 1995. She is also the author of The Way I Found Her and most recently Music & Silence. Rose Tremain lives in Norfolk with the biographer, Richard Holmes.

Books By Author Rose Tremain

Sacred Country by Rose Tremain

Sacred Country

Paperback, June 2017
Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain

The Gustav Sonata

Paperback, January 2017
Restoration (Vintage Past) by Rose Tremain

Restoration (Vintage Past)

Paperback / softback, October 2016
American Lover by Rose Tremain

The American Lover

Paperback, March 2016