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The Colour

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  4,019 Ratings  ·  299 Reviews
Joseph and Harriet Blackstone, along with Joseph's mother Lillian, emigrate from England in search of new beginnings and prosperity in New Zealand. But the harsh land near Christchurch where they settle threatens to destroy them almost before they begin. When Joseph finds gold in the creek, he guiltily hides the discovery from his wife and mother and is seized by a rapturo ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by Chatto & Windus
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Sep 13, 2011 Chrissie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Laura
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
Despite being a historical novel set in Victorian New Zealand at the time of the 19th century gold rush it has, even more than Music and Silence or Restoration a dreamlike atmosphere.

The book has a syrupy pace, any one moment full and rich but in no hurry to get to the next and a persistent strangeness - in a word, dreamlike.

On the downside I felt the revealed secret of the husband was weaker than I had been expecting, particularly after the advent of the male prostitute on the way to the gold-
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
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
Dec 12, 2013 Jeanette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of the New Zealand Gold Rush of the 1860's. The three main characters are intensely realized to their very thought patterns and perceptions. And not only to their goals of happiness, but to how they view the new world and the old.

Having read about 8 books set in Australia and N.Z. this year, I went back to this older Rose Tremain and was deliciously served. Good read, and also intense read- with mystical aspects in the plot of the child Edwin and his nurse maid. It's sad but comp
Description: Newlyweds Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from England to New Zealand, along with Joseph's mother Lilian, in search of new beginnings and prosperity, but the harsh land near Christchurch where they settle threatens to destroy them almost before they begin. When Joseph finds gold in a creek bed, he hides the discovery from both his wife and mother and becomes obsessed with the riches awaiting him deep in the earth. Abandoning his farm and family, he sets off alone for the new ...more
Yelena Malcolm
Oct 17, 2007 Yelena Malcolm rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Leoni Hofmeyr
Mar 05, 2008 Leoni Hofmeyr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 17, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
What a book!! Now I know how this book must be considered as a 1001-books.
“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
This was a mostly sad and sobering story. The writing was well done, but the storyline itself was rather depressing - life in New Zealand in the 1800s was difficult - for men and especially for women. Life was tough, love was rare, hope was deceptive, pleasure was taken in whatever form offered.

I quite liked aspects of it, but I took off half a star for its utter bleakness, so 2.5★

I’m undecided as to whether I would read more of Rose Tremain’s works or not - they do seem to have a similar bleak
Lynn L
Nov 30, 2016 Lynn L rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-challenge
Beautiful story. Easy read.
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
Nov 17, 2015 Kiwi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of hope. It starts with an English family immigrating to New Zealand: Joseph, a livestock auctioneer son, Lillian, his singing-loving mother, and Harriet, his new wife, arrive in Christchurch (on NZ South Island) and buy land with the dream of a developing a prosperous farm.

You would expect the small group, confronted with the challenge of rebuilding a new life in an unknown country, would stick together, but it is not so. Joseph is hunted by the memory of a past love, obsessed
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
Aug 22, 2008 C. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
I read this book some years ago and I didn't think it was especially good. I was annoyed about some descriptions I thought were inaccurate and I wondered at the confidence of someone coming to New Zealand briefly and then writing an historical novel about a less well known history ie the Hokitika Gold Rush. So when I re-read it I checked all the things I thought were wrong - beech trees on the Canterbury Plains, termite mounds in the bush, titoki trees in Canterbury, gold found in North Canterbu ...more
Mar 07, 2017 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second time I've read this and it was just as good. Perhaps having seen the Rings film I have a greater appreciation of the mountains and the New Zealand terrain. I think this novel is about obsession and loss, men and women and coping with adversity. Maori culture roots the novel in New Zealand rather than anywhere else that experienced gold rushes. Some parts just made me want to cry even though I had no time for the main man. I had forgotten why he was running and when the revelat ...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.

Julie Christine
Jun 18, 2008 Julie Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie Christine by: Bob
Little is known outside the South Pacific of New Zealand's mid-19th century gold rush that brought thousands of hopefuls to the Land of the Long White Cloud. The setting is as strong a character in this stark, beautiful and tragic novel as its human protagonists.

Tremain gracefully weaves a myriad of cultures- desperate and brave British immigrants, Maori mystics, hardy pakeha locals who watch with rueful humor at the missteps of the recently arrived, resourceful Chinese. These many characteriza
Jul 24, 2010 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-list-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Claire McAlpine
Harriet and Joesph and Joseph's mother Lilian have arrived in NZ from England to improve their fortunes, all three in need of a new start, for reasons that are slowly revealed throughout the novel.

They build a house of cob and try to adapt to the new conditions in this untamed country where nothing can be taken for granted. They will learn numerous harsh lessons and encounter challenges, temptations and people unlike those they have known in the past.

Joseph will be lured away by "the colour" whi
Nov 10, 2012 Edmole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ian Mapp
Jun 19, 2012 Ian Mapp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I picked this book up purely to add another country - New Zealand - to my Around the World in 80 Books challenge. Part of the reason I'm enjoying this challenge is that it makes me read books that I wouldn't necessarily pick up. This book is a prime example of that.

It covers the story of Joseph and Harriet Blackstone, who set out to make a new life in the harsh New Zealand wilderness at the time of the gold rush. Joseph is obsessed with finding "the colour" - or flecks of gold to hint at a burie
A husband and wife and the husband's mother move from England to New Zealand, with the hopes of starting a new life in a new land, but when things don't turn out as planned for them, and the happiness and peace that they're searching for remain elusive, the colour, or hunger for gold, infects first the husband, and then the wife.

This was a really dark and depressing book. I certainly wouldn't recommend it if you were looking for a happy read, with a happy ending.

I would, though, recommend it for
Jan 29, 2016 Arukiyomi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
This was removed from the first edition of the 1001 Books list and it’s not hard to see why. Although Tremain can write a decent yarn, there’s nothing here that I could see which has pushed the boundaries of the genre of the novel.

The story focusses on western settlers in New Zealand at the turn of the last century. To set the scene, there are the usual hardships mostly caused by the typical mistakes of someone in a completely alien environment assuming they know what’s what in the face of local
Judy Croome
Dec 13, 2011 Judy Croome rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Published in 2003, this book is set in the 1864 Goldrush of New Zealand. It is the story of Joseph and Harriet Blackstone and Lillian Blackstone, Joseph's mother who immigrate to New Zealand. For Joseph it is an escape, for Harriet it is an adventure and for Lillian it is loss of all her life was. I think the author's early chapters were the best. She used weather; the wind and rain to create context. We slowly are let into the secrets that Joseph harbors in his soul. We learn from Harriet that ...more
"For gold is deceitful; this he was beginning to understand. It is as duplicitous as a girl. It shows itself and beckons. Within its first gleam lies the promise of more, much more, and so men go forward, cajoling the earth, breaking their backs and their hearts, but very often they are rewarded with nothing – or almost nothing: just the very little needed to keep hope and longing alive."

Joseph Blackstone and his new wife Harriet and his mother, Lilian have immigrated to New Zealand. Joseph is r
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Play Book Tag: The Colour by Rose Tremain - 5 stars 4 13 Oct 22, 2016 02:02PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: The Colour by Rose Tremain 2 12 Mar 05, 2015 08:05AM  
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Rose Tremain's best-selling novels have won many awards, including the Orange Prize, the Whitbread Novel of the Year, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Prix Femina Etranger. Restoration, the first of her novels to feature Robert Merivel, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She lives in Norfolk and London with the biographer Richard Holmes.
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“River on the ferry, Billy swam beside it, and Harriet remembered the donkey and the donkey cart of her first” 0 likes
“When the news of the Scottish find reached Kaniere, forty or fifty miners who had been toiling there for weeks for poor returns decided to cut their losses, buy new licences and make for Kokatahi. In the time that it took them to get to the warden’s office at Hokitika and back, the Scottish strike had been talked up into a ‘homeward bounder’: a discovery so huge that it would change men’s lives at a stroke and enable them to return home as rich men. They came up the river in pairs and groups. They” 0 likes
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