The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

August 2, 2017

August 2, 1943

We learn from a 2012 Telegraph interview, that the novelist Rose Tremain (August 2, 1943):

..... lives in a large Georgian house in Norwich with her partner, the literary biographer Richard Holmes. The house, which is on top of a hill, is divided into three apartments, of which Tremain and Holmes occupy the central one; their sitting-room looks out over a big communal garden of rolling lawn and well-tended flowerbeds, to a screen of trees and a glimpse of countryside for miles beyond.
[Her study]... is immaculate: powder-blue walls, a pale, meticulously vacuumed carpet, good furniture. Light streams in through French windows to fall on an upholstered armchair where Tremain sits – as serene, elegant and refined as her surroundings. She is 69, with dark hair, almond eyes and a creamy skin. .....

Her first novel
, Sadler's Birthday, published in 1976, when Tremain was 32, was a melancholic story of a retired butler living alone in a rambling house inherited from his former employers. The novelist Angus Wilson, who had taught her at university, described it as being 'as far from the stereotype of a young woman's first novel as it can be'. The Cupboard (1981) told the story of an 87-year-old novelist and ex-suffragette; Music and Silence (1999) of a court musician in 17th-century Denmark. The Road Home, her Orange Prize-winning book of 2008, followed the haphazard progress of an illegal East European immigrant, Lev, struggling to survive in London; her last book,Trespass (2010), was a dark thriller about incest and murder......

At UEA, where she supplemented her earnings as a novelist by teaching the creative writing course from 1988 to 1995, she would always urge her students to ignore the old adage 'write about what you know', telling them instead, 'Write about what you don't know. Don't just rehash what you were doing when you were 25. Go and find out a bit about it so you're not wrestling in the dark, and then take it on your journey.'.....

Tremain herself points to her 'great propensity' for melancholy ... 'But being alive is quite a melancholy state, isn't it? I do recognise that in myself. But I don't have to beat that side of my personality down – not at all.

She has arrived, she says, at a place of contentment. The ghosts of the past have been buried. The power of the imagination has triumphed. 'The older you get the more you understand that the really important things in life are very few. First and foremost are the people you love. And those too, perhaps, are very few,' she says, laughing.

It is from The Road Home: A Novel that we glimpse now the feline element in the prose of Rose Tremain:

"Lev went down the basement steps, saw the yellow front door and the cat dozing by the blue hydrangea bush. He stood still and stared at these things, and the cat didn't move. The sun glanced down...."

Also, in the interview we quote above, we learn Tremain saw parallels between Restoration England and the tawdry cheapness of the values of the Thatcher years.

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