Laura's Review - The Road Home

The Road Home
Rose Tremain
365 pages

Out of work and mourning the loss of his wife, Lev leaves his Eastern European homeland on a bus bound for London. Lev begins life in London homeless and nearly penniless. Lydia, a woman he met on the bus, uses her personal connections to help Lev secure inexpensive accommodation and employment in a restaurant. This is then a springboard for relationships both friendly and romantic, and he begins to develop expertise in food and the restaurant business. His journey is filled with hardship, ranging from typical "fish out of water" scenarios to more serious ethnic prejudice. Whenever trouble strikes, he turns to Lydia for support, but abuses this relationship by failing to realize how their paths have diverged during their time in England.

Lev is also plagued by worry about those he left behind. He is in frequent phone contact with his friend Rudi, a carefree contrast to the conservative and somber Lev. Lev's relationship with his mother is primarily about money, which he sends home regularly to provide for her and his young daughter Maya. One day, Lev learns that his home village is threatened and he must develop a scheme to save his family and friends. The Road Home recounts Lev's struggles as an immigrant, and the inner journey of coming to terms with his past, dispensing with demons, and establishing a new direction for his life.

I was instantly drawn into Lev's story. His loneliness and isolation were palpable. The important figures in his life, both at home and in England, were rich and believable. In some cases, it was a bit too obvious the purpose Tremain had in mind for each character; however, this did not diminish my enjoyment of this prizewinning novel. ( )
My original review can be found here.