The Colour
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The Colour

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  2,506 ratings  ·  183 reviews
Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from Norfolk to New Zealand in search of new beginnings and prosperity. But the harsh land near Christchurch threatens to destroy them almost before they begin. When Joseph finds gold in the creek he is seized by a rapturous obsession with the voluptuous riches awaiting him deep in the earth. Abandoning his farm and family, he sets of...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 29th 2004 by Vintage (first published May 1st 2003)
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Chrissie
Having finished this book, I have decided to rewrite the review. Here is what I like about this writer and this novel:

First of all I am impressed with the author's ability to create this story from nothing. The story seems so real, the people seem real. Out of nothing she has created a world that has never existed. I usually find non-fiction better than fiction. Fiction never feels genuine, but this novel does.


What I like most about this book is the way the author has an idea and then says it wi...more
Jeanette
4.5 stars

The Colour is set in 1860s New Zealand, a time of mad rushing for gold as well as nation-building fueled by heavy immigration. Newlyweds Joseph and Harriet Blackstone arrive from England with Joseph's widowed mother Lillian in tow. Joseph acquires some land, builds a temporary house, and they begin the work of establishing a farm. But Joseph is distracted by gold fever after finding some of "the colour," and he is haunted by memories of the heinous act that led to his flight from Englan...more
Leoni Hofmeyr
I recently became curious about Rose Tremain when she featured in a "Good Fiction Guide: 4000 Great Books to Read" and I realised I only knew about her, never actually read anything by her. So I picked up The Colour, published in 2003 already, from my book club. I now see in the reviews that the book is considered "distinctly different" from other Tremain books. My original object thus defeated.
But... what a treat it was!
"Deliberate, forthright, careful and cool, it ranges across a riot of inter...more
Yelena Malcolm
Dec 17, 2007 Yelena Malcolm rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of historical fiction
Ugh! This was one of those books that had a good beginning, about 70 pages or so, and then went tremendously downhill.

The novel follows a husband and wife who have decided to start anew in New Zealand in the mid-nineteenth century only to be thwarted at every turn and estranged. Blah blah blah.

So if that WAS the story it might have been an ok read. The writing was nothing impressive, but the initial renderings of the characters was well done.

And then the author sort of goes beserk. She adds a da...more
Laura
I'm one of those very superficial people for whom the setting of a novel is critical. I don't like, or am bored by, the country/city/region where the characters are flung, I don't read the book.
I even have prejudices against whole eras. Take the Upper South in the twentieth century. Please.
So it was with incredulity that I found myself reading with snowballing fascination and joy 'The Colour.' It's set in New Zealand in gold rush times---a seeming nonstarter for me, to put it mildly. And yet. A...more
C.
Jul 28, 2012 C. rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to C. by: 1001
The saving grace of historical fiction is that thanks to the subject matter it is almost always interesting, despite the frequent lack of any literary merit.

It would be an unfair exaggeration to say that The Colour lacks any literary merit, but it wasn't great, to tell the truth. The plot was interesting enough: a Joseph Blackstone takes his wife, Harriet and mother, Lilian, to New Zealand at the time of the Gold Rush to start a new life. However, their small world of cows, trees and gardening c...more
Friederike Knabe
Strong women may not usually capture the centre of attention in a wild west survival story - it's a men's world after all. Yet, Harriet deserves her spotlight! Set against the background of New Zealand's gold rush in the 1860s, Rose Tremain has crafted a memorable, vividly coloured historical drama, that revolves around immigrants Joseph Blackstone and his new wife, Harriet. New Zealand's spectacular landscapes and the country's havoc creating extreme weather vagaries, powerfully evoked througho...more
Suzanne
“He stood without moving, waiting for the sun to come out again. It returned and sparkled on the water, dazzling him. He had to close his eyes for a second, and when he opened them again, he’d forgotten the precise spot where the colour had revealed itself. Then he saw it once more, a minute patch of shining yellow dust.”

In the year 1864, Joseph Blackstone, his new wife Harriet and his mother Lillian staked a claim in southern New Zealand, in the hopes of building a farm and a new life. They f...more
SilverRaindrops
When I first picked up "The Colour", I didn't know what to expect. I had only read one of Rose Tremain's short stories, I knew virtually nothing about New Zealand apart from what little I'd heard in the news, and I certainly did not understand the Gold Rush at all. In fact, I never knew there was one in New Zealand, too.

What first impressed me was the storybuilding. We get to know Joseph, his mother Lilian and his wife Harriet, who have come to New Zealand from England to start again. They seem...more
Edmole
A story of a grub of a man moving to New Zealand with a proper person of a wife, and never being satisfied. Be it by his Mother, his wife, his home, his work, or gold, or resolution. A really great book, compelling even when describing grinding work, throat clutching sadness or exhausting inevitables. You're in its world from the off, and there's enough clues to let you know where it's going, but the end is still rewarding.

The message I got from this book is that the permanently dissatisfied ar...more
Gauloises
An incredible story about the gold rush in Australia, beautifully written, the best Rose Tremaine I've read. Read it.
Ian Mapp
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Becky
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Judy Croome
Three generations of men in my family have been/are involved in the gold mining industry. When I found a novel by Rose Tremain, a favourite author, about the 19th century gold rush of New Zealand, I had to buy it. And I’m glad I did!

Whether she’s describing the harsh wilderness that awaits the newly-wed English couple, Harriet and Joseph Blackstone, and Joseph’s mother Lilian, on their arrival; the dangerous man-made wilderness of a mining camp, or the toll both take on the human psyche, strippi...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
The Colour is a well-written, engaging work of historical fiction, set in 1860's New Zealand. It reminded me of Allende's Daughter of Fortune and Smiley's The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton, which are set around the same time period (although in different parts of the world) and have some similar characters and situations, but without being so similar as to feel derivative. Like those books, it also has some plotting issues, but is good enough to be worth a read anyway.

Newlyweds...more
Abi
My mum raved about this, but I was not as gripped from the start as she was, but in the end I could not put it down. This is my fourth Rose Tremain and I'm amazed at how completely different each one is from the others. This one is set in New Zealand at the time of the Gold Rush. Joseph Blackstone takes his new wife Harriet and his mother Lillian to the New World to set up a farm. He gets a glimpse of 'the colour' in the water on his land and starts to pan for gold secretly. He then goes off to...more
JJ
I loved this book so much. This author writes in a fantastic way and the book is fantasical so that is maybe irony. There is nothing boring in this book on any single page. So much is going on and you can hardly keep breathing when you read which is a good thing in this case. When characters change, the changes seem real. Even though a lot of people on this website who comment on books call them beautiful, I usually wouldn't say that, but this book was beautiful to me. I hope someone who is in c...more
Jayne Charles
Plenty of things happened in this tale of the New Zealand gold rush, what with blue blancmanges, 19th century rentboys and fossicking. Lots and lots of fossicking. (Love that word: totally innocent but it sounds as if it ought to mean something rude).

Why, then, did it feel so slow?

It can’t be denied that this author has a way with words. She created the atmosphere of time and place beautifully and with great attention to detail. The aims, thoughts and feelings of her characters were rendered so...more
Chelinda
I enjoyed this book much more that I thought I would. Recommended to me by a relative, I really had no clue what it was about when she handed it to me. Turns out it takes place in the white colonization and mining frenzies of New Zealand in the 19th century. Definitely not a topic I knew anything about, despite my vast British history knowledge. Also not a topic I would have read on my own if not recommended strongly to me. The author does a good job of explaining things to readers who may not k...more
Bill
I read this book because it was the monthly choice of a Reading Group that I have just joined. I enjoy reading groups for many reasons, but mostly because they challenge me to read things that otherwise I wouldn't have read

For me this was a very good book with a great narrative and excellent characterisations. It's heartwarming and heart rending in equal measures. I would definitely consider reading more from Rose Tremain
Alesa
This is a richly satisfying book on many levels...

1. It's terrific historical fiction. I learned a lot about New Zealand during the Gold Rush.

2. It also works as literature. Characters are sharply drawn. Descriptions are elegant and thought-provoking. The plot has numerous unexpected twists and turns.

3. It's inspirational, in its own way. We learn about personal empowerment through example. We also see how some people refuse to evolve or learn from their mistakes -- just like in real life.

4. I...more
Jo
Loved it to the end!
Its great to read a novel that I can get so involved in that I can still feel that characters in my blood after the book is done. I am still angry and feeling spiteful to some, and cheering at the success of others.
Highly recommend this read!
Kj
I had read and enjoyed Music and Silence, so got very excited to find out that Rose Tremain had written a book set during the West Coast gold rushes.

However, I just couldn't get past all the inaccuracies - from the type of food that people were able to grow in the South Island, to the brand of spirituality practised by the Maori character. Obviously what Tremain has done is she has visited NZ, had a great idea for a story and gone home and written it without giving it a thought that some people...more
Paula
Harriet's character interested me until her infidelity but Joseph's character was unpleasant. The historical basis of early settlers in New Zealand was interesting.
Dreda Corlett
Loved this book and have read it twice. What amazing characters appear from this type of hardship, the stronger looking ones become weaker and the weak dependant ones become strong. Adversity +++. Settlers and how they live their lives never fails to amaze and impress me. The sheer guts and determination of most of them and the avarice of others is certainly worth a visit, as is the care shown by those who have already experienced and survived the hardships. The 'stealing' of land from aborigina...more
Laura
What a book!! Now I know how this book must be considered as a 1001-books.
non
i have just finished this. I have been painting for three days straight with this on as an audible recording. It is interesting that the paintings often become inseparable to the books i read as when I look at the brush strokes of my last painting, it reminds me of the landscape of New Zealand which is where this book is based. An English family go in search of a new life in the unchartered wilderness of mid 19th century New Zealand, where they must survive against the elements. Gold, or the 'co...more
Louise
When I started reading this book, I wasn't sure how much I was going to enjoy it; it was moving quite slowly, and I didn't feel I was going to be interested enough in the characters to want to keep plodding through the book to find out what happens to them. However, as I read on I found myself really enjoying it. Don't get me wrong, it is still quite a slow-paced book throughout, not really building to a climax at any point, yet at its own steady pace I started to find myself much more intereste...more
Renee Boucher
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kay
No question that this is an intelligently written book about a husband and wife (and his mother) who end up seeking their fortunes in gold and trying to build a meaningful life in New Zealand. I enjoyed reading the words and participating in the life of the characters. But in some respects it made me sad because there never seemed to be any sense of satisfaction or happiness - ever. It was actually fairly realistic of what it was actually like. I would have probably felt the same way about this...more
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Rose Tremain's best-selling novels have won many awards, including the Orange Prize (The Road Home), the Whitbread Novel of the Year (Music & Silence), the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Prix Femina Etranger (Sacred Country). Restoration, the first of her novels to feature Robert Merivel, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1989 and made into a film in 1995. She lives in Norfolk a...more
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The Road Home Restoration Music and Silence Trespass The Way I Found Her

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