The Road Home by Rose Tremain

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While I was happy to listen to this book as I cooked, dug around in the dirt outside, or folded clothes, I couldn't help but notice it didn't come up to the standard of the other two Rose Tremain books I have appreciated (The Gustav Sonata and Trespass).

It is the story of Lev, a Polish man forced to leave his village to make money for his daughter and mother. He had worked in a sawmill for years, but it closed because they ran out of trees. Because Poland was in the EU, he could go to London to find work, where he met with great kindness, as well as suspicion about being "illegal." He gets work washing dishes in a high end restaurant and begins to make his way successfully. There is a small amount of incidental music throughout the audiobook. The first few times it occurred, I didn't know what the cello piece was until Lev has the great honor of going to a performance of Elgar's cello concerto.

It was just before this concert began that Lev disrupted the event and was forced to leave because of his ringing cell phone that he could not locate. And it was that moment that I began to feel that rather than being in the hands of a great story-teller, I would experience some jarring episodes. The arc of the story is predictable:  things go very well, then quite badly. When Lev is at a low point, he conceives a grand plan which involves a road home.

Lev's restaurant work taught him to love (and make) good food and that was a pleasing aspect of the book. I always enjoy hearing about lovingly made food.

It's hard to dislike a pleasantly sentimental story and this one worked for me on that level.

Rose Tremain, The Road Home, Little Brown, 2008, 417 pages (I listened to the audiobook). Available at the UVa and public library and from Amazon.

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