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The Road Home
Cover of The Road Home
The Road Home
A Novel
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In the wake of factory closings and his beloved wife's death, Lev is on his way from Eastern Europe to London, seeking work to support his mother and his little daughter. After a spell of homelessness, he finds a job in the kitchen of a posh restaurant, and a room in the house of an appealing Irishman who has also lost his family. Never mind that Lev must sleep in a bunk bed surrounded by plastic toys--he has found a friend and shelter. However constricted his life in England remains he compensates by daydreaming of home, by having an affair with a younger restaurant worker (and dodging the attentions of other women), and by trading gossip and ambitions via cell phone with his hilarious old friend Rudi who, dreaming of the wealthy West, lives largely for his battered Chevrolet.
Homesickness dogs Lev, not only for nostalgic reasons, but because he doesn't belong, body or soul, to his new country-but can he really go home again? Rose Tremain's prodigious talents as a prose writer are on full display in THE ROAD HOME, but her novel never loses sight of what is truly important in the lives we lead.
In the wake of factory closings and his beloved wife's death, Lev is on his way from Eastern Europe to London, seeking work to support his mother and his little daughter. After a spell of homelessness, he finds a job in the kitchen of a posh restaurant, and a room in the house of an appealing Irishman who has also lost his family. Never mind that Lev must sleep in a bunk bed surrounded by plastic toys--he has found a friend and shelter. However constricted his life in England remains he compensates by daydreaming of home, by having an affair with a younger restaurant worker (and dodging the attentions of other women), and by trading gossip and ambitions via cell phone with his hilarious old friend Rudi who, dreaming of the wealthy West, lives largely for his battered Chevrolet.
Homesickness dogs Lev, not only for nostalgic reasons, but because he doesn't belong, body or soul, to his new country-but can he really go home again? Rose Tremain's prodigious talents as a prose writer are on full display in THE ROAD HOME, but her novel never loses sight of what is truly important in the lives we lead.
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  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 21, 2008
    Tremain (Restoration
    ) turns in a low-key but emotionally potent look at the melancholia of migration for her 14th book. Olev, a 42-year-old widower from an unnamed former east bloc republic, is taking a bus to London, where he imagines every man resembles Alec Guinness and hard work will be rewarded by wealth. He has left behind a sad young daughter, a stubborn mother and the newly shuttered sawmill where he had worked for years. His landing is harsh: the British are unpleasant, immigrants are unwelcome, and he's often overwhelmed by homesickness. But Lev personifies Tremain's remarkable ability to craft characters whose essential goodness shines through tough, drab circumstances. Among them are Lydia, the fellow expatriate; Christy, Lev's alcoholic Irish landlord who misses his own daughter; and even the cruelly demanding Gregory, chef-proprietor of the posh restaurant where Lev first finds work. A contrived but still satisfying ending marks this adroit émigré's look at London.

  • Library Journal

    May 1, 2008
    Widower Lev, the quintessential "everyman," arrives in London from an economically deprived area of Russia, armed with only a cursory knowledge of English and some bad financial advice. Aided by the kindness of strangers and a passionate zeal to provide a better life for his daughter, Maya, Lev takes pride in his lowly kitchen work at the renowned G.K. Ashe Restaurant while observing and absorbing the ways of its demanding chef. The author fills the pages with terrifically flawed yet redeemable secondary characters like Lydia, Lev's mentor of sorts; Christy Slane, his Irish landlord whose struggle with alcohol has resulted in a traumatic divorce; and his lover, Sophie, who introduces him to the quirky denizens of Ferndale Heights Nursing Home, in particular, Ruby Constad, who will play an important role in the fulfillment of Lev's dreams. Like Amy Bloom's recent novel, "Away", or Ha Jin's "A Free Life", Whitbread Award winner Tremain ("Music and Silence") has written a worthy addition to the growing body of work centered on the loneliness and frustration of the immigrant experience. Recommended for all larger fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, "LJ" 4/15/08.]Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Myers, FL

    Copyright 2008 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Little, Brown and Company
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