TRESPASS by Valerie Martin

Here is a book that I’ve seen a bunch of reviews of: Trespass by Valerie Martin.


In Trespass, Chloe, a middle-aged New Yorker, eyes her 21-year-old son’s new Croatian-American girlfriend Salome with mistrust, believing her to be an opportunist looking to work her way into the family.  However, the book’s introduction of Salome’s mother, Jelena, and her horrific experiences in the war in Bosnia, makes the story more complicated. According to EW, “The reliably provocative Martin leaves her judgments of Salome, Chloe, and most of her other characters tantalizingly ambiguous. What begins as a catty domestic melodrama quickly broadens into a searching meditation on the limits of American inclusiveness, everyday xenophobia, and xenophobia taken to its genocidal extreme.”

From More: Martin is “wonderfully adept at teasing [] questions into real suspense, and every mother will sympathize with Chloe’s worries and baffled resentment…. Martin’s novel remains a smart and disturbing look at personal and political trespass.”

From the NYT: “There are many kinds of trespass, Martin suggests, some psychological, some physical and all disturbing. Still, it’s difficult to feel Chloe’s pain, because it lets loose her prejudices. In creating a character who is probably not unlike many of her readers, Martin is trespassing too, leaving hints that suggest our own self-righteousness, however well intentioned, may not stand up when tested, as Chloe’s won’t.”

From the San Francisco Chronicle: “Trespass provides a searing commentary on the human desire to set boundary lines against threats, perceived and real. It’s a testament to Martin’s skill as both storyteller and writer that her complex characters defy separation into two camps – those who accept and those who judge. Nothing in Trespass is quite as it seems, and that is precisely the point.”

Valerie Martin won the 2003 Orange Award for fiction in England for her book Property, about the relationship between a slave and her wealthy owner. I remember reading about that book when it came out, but I haven’t read it. Has anyone out there read anything by Valerie Martin before?

One comment

  • rhode island read
    November 17, 2007 - 3:30 am | Permalink

    I’ve loved Martin’s writing since MARY REILLY (great book made into a dismal movie); she just gets better with age.

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