The Road Home
An initially engaging story, The Road Home sees Lev, an unemployed 42-year-old widowed father, leave his economically dying village in Eastern Europe and travel to London, in the hope of finding work as a migrant labourer, only to suffer loneliness and a sense of isolation.
But then, as his life turns for the better, the story falls down badly and one feels very much as if Tremain lost her way while writing it, then resorted to a predictably feeble formula of ups and downs in Lev's fortunes to carry her through.
A novel needn't plumb the depths of the human psyche to make good reading, but this one disappointed me for how one-dimensional the people around Lev seemed. I'm aware that poverty still exists in parts of rural Eastern Europe, but its portrayal here struck me poorly researched and its associated characters very stereotypical. Many big themes are tackled here (immigration, isolation, loss, friendships, poverty), maybe too many for the author to really get her teeth into, and they can seem trivialised as a result.
Though this novel failed to reach any heights or depths in either content or prose, and the good fortune and opportunities that suddenly befell Lev were improbable, I did feel for him and enjoyed moments of his journey, along with sensing flashes of brilliance in the writing of some of the minor characters. An easy read, maybe to pack as part of your holiday reading.
Book-ish book group rating 6.8/10