Rose Tremain's novels and short stories have been published in 30 countries and have won several awards, including the Orange Prize (The Road Home) and the Whitbread Novel of the Year (Music & Silence). Her stories transport readers through time and space, and she has created some of contemporary literature's best-loved and most memorable characters.

To celebrate the publication of her latest novel, Islands of Mercy, we've created a guide to help you find your perfect place to begin.

For fans of Bernardine Evaristo, Elizabeth Macneal or John Boyne
If you like the above authors, and books about how we find ourselves, even in the most unlikely of places and circumstances, why not try:

Sacred Country

I am not Mary. That is a mistake. I am not a girl. I'm a boy.

Sacred Country tells the extraordinary story of six-year-old Mary Ward and her heroic struggle to change gender in 1952, Suffolk. Moving from the claustrophobic rural community of the 1950s to London in the swinging Sixties and beyond to the glitter of America in the Seventies, this is the story of a journey to find a place of safety and fulfilment in a savage and confusing world.

The Road Home

And Lev... would hold himself apart from other people, find corners and shadows in which to sit and smoke, demonstrate that he didn't need to belong, that his heart remained in his own country.

The Road Home is a wise and witty look at the contemporary migrant experience. Lev is on his way from Eastern Europe to Britain, seeking work and leaving behind the looming figures of his dead wife, beloved daughter and outrageous friend Rudi. But the deep strangeness of the British and their hostile streets and clannish pubs lies ahead. London holds the alluring possibility of friendship, sex, money and, if Lev is lucky, a new sense of belonging.

The Way I Found Her

It never really occured to me that ordinary people could be beautiful, here and now. And then I saw – that day in July – that they could be and that my mother was one of them.

This seductive novel revolves around Lewis Little, a precocious thirteen-year-old who is spending the summer in Paris with his mother, Alice. Alice is translating the latest medieval romance by a bestselling and exotic Russian émigré. Lewis is there to experience one of the greatest cities in the world; neither can foresee the momentous events that lie in wait for them.

For fans of Imogen Hermes Gowar, Sarah Waters or Hilary Mantel
If you like the above authors, and brilliantly narrated character-driven historical fiction to light up the senses, why not try:


And I was entirely held by my own words, as if my words had become a liquid and I immersed in them, like a drowning man in a rushing river.

The riotously funny, richly atmospheric Restoration introduces us to the young Robert Merivel and his rise and fall through glittering, seventeenth-century society, as he is given a position at the court of King Charless II. But by falling in love with the youngest of the King's mistresses, Merivel transfresses the one rule that will cast him out from his new-found paradise.


I note that when I first set down my Story, I speculated that there may have been more than one Beginning to it. I suggested indeed Five Beginnings. And now I see with equal clairty that a man's life may have more than one Ending.

The gaudy years of the Restoration are long gone and Robert Merivel, physician and courtier to King Charles II, sets off for the French court in search of a fresh start. But royal life at the glittering Palace of Versailles leaves him in despair, until a chance encounter allows him to dream of a different future. In this dazzling novel, Merivel finds his loyalty and skill tested to their limits.

The Gustav Sonata

At the age of five, Gustav Perle was certain of only one thing: he loved his mother.

This novel follows Gustav, who grows up in a small town in Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem a distant echo. His life is lonely until he meets Anton. An intense lifelong devotion develops, and a story unfolds of betrayal, the struggle for happiness and the healing power of friendship.

Music and Silence

And she did not want him to think her quite mad, only a little unique, only containing within her just that measure of the unexpected sufficient to make her irreplaceable.

This is a story of love and divided loyalties set in seventeenth century Denmark. Young English Lutenist Peter Claire arrives at the Danish Court to join the Royal Orchestra. From the moment he realizes that the musicians perform in a freezing cellar underneath the royal apartments, he understands that he's come to a place where the opposing states of light and dark, good and evil, are waging war to the death. Torn by the passions of love, how can Peter find the path that will realise his hopes and save his soul?

For fans of Bridget Collins, Maggie O'Farrell or Eleanor Catton
If you like these authors, and brilliant evocations of time and place that you can get totally lost in, then why not try:

The Colour

What human soul, bared to nakedness, does not look hideous – her own included?

This is a gripping drama of sacrifice and greed set during the mid-nineteenth-century gold rush in New Zealand, whereby newlyweds Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from England to New Zealand. They are in search of new beginnings and prosperity but what follows threatens to destroy them almost before they begin. The Colour is both moving and terrifying, a compelling attempt to mine the complexities of love and explore the sacrifices made in the pursuit of happiness.

Islands of Mercy

She was 'The Angel of the Baths', the one woman whose touch everybody yearned for. Yet she would do more. She was certain of that.

Rose Tremain's newest novel begins in the city of Bath, in the year 1865 where an extraordinary young woman renowned for her nursing skills finds herself torn between a dangerous affair with a female lover and the promise of a conventional marriage to an apparently respectable doctor. Meanwhile in Borneo, philanthropist Sir Ralph Savage finds himself undermined by his own fragility and innate greed. The two worlds eventually come together as this extraordinary story journeys across the globe from the confines of an English tearoom, to the rainforests of a tropical island via the slums of Dublin and the fancy-dress boutiques of Paris. A perfect read for fans of Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries...


Doesn't every love need to create for itself its own protected space? And if so, why don't lovers understand better the damage trespass can do?

Trespass is a thrilling novel about sibling love and devastating revenge, set in a silent valley in an isolated farmhouse in southern France. Its owner is Aramon Lunel, an alcoholic haunted by his violent past. His sister, Audrun, dreams of exacting retribution for the unspoken betrayals that have blighted her in life. But from the moment a wealthy but disillusioned antiques dealer from London, Anthony Verey, arrives, a frightening and unstoppable series of consequences are set in motion.

For fans of Diane Setterfield, Garth Greenwell or Evie Wyld
If you like the above authors, and if you enjoy short stories that get to the heart of everything from love, loss, status, friendship and span across magnificent locations, then you'll enjoy:

Evangelista's Fan

Salvatore Cavalli, the eldest son of a Piedmontese clock-maker, was celebrating his twenty-seventh birthday in the year 1815 when he learned that the King of Piedmont had decided to remove a large slice of time from the calendar.

The teasing and brilliant title story of Rose Tremain's short story collection, Evangelista's Fan, is set in a disturbing dreamlike version of Regency London. There are also stories set in Cornwall, Corsica, Nashville and Niagara, detailing heartbreak and humour as well as love in its many and varied forms.

The American Lover

Whatever self she'd had before she met him was invisible to her now. At certain moments in a life, this is what a person can feel. She was her lover's lover, that was all.

The American Lover is a diverse and seductive collection of stories: trapped in a London flat, Beth remembers a transgressive love affair in 1960s Paris. The most famous writer in Russia takes his last breath in a stationmaster's cottage, miles from Moscow. A father, finally free of his daughter's demands, embarks on a long swim from his Canadian lakeside retreat.

The Darkness of Wallis Simpson

She knows she's in Paris, city of dreams. Her companion in the shadowy room, who kisses her forehead, who strokes her hands, keeps telling her that she has a duty not to die, not now, not yet.

This is a masterful collection of short stories with the title character, a twice-divorced American named Wallis Simpson, on her deathbed in her Paris flat, closely guarded by her lawyer who will not allow her any visitors. In another of these brilliant stories a jilted man gets his revenge. A baby grows wings. A character in an impressionist painting escapes his 'frame' – or does he?

  • Islands of Mercy

  • A hell of a read' Sunday Times

    'Triumphant, and beautifully of the best novelists writing today' Sara Collins, Guardian

    All must gamble with their fate. But not all can win...

    In the city of Bath, in the year 1865 Jane Adeane, renowned for her restorative skills, is convinced that some other destiny will one day show itself to her.

    But when she finds herself torn between a dangerous affair with a female lover and the promise of a conventional marriage to an apparently respectable doctor, her desires begin to lead her towards a future she had never imagined...

    Discover the ultimate historical read. A perfect gift this Christmas.

    'Terrific' The Times

    'One of our most accomplished novelists' Observer

    'One of my favourite writers' Nina Stibbe

  • Buy the book

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