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Summary

Shortlisted for the Orange prize for Fiction, 2004.

Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from Norfolk to New Zealand 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 the creek he is seized by a rapturous obsession with the voluptuous riches awaiting him deep in the earth. Abandoning his farm and family, he sets off alone for the new gold-fields over the Southern Alps, a moral wilderness where many others, under the seductive dreams of "the colour", are violently rushing to their destinies. By turns both moving and terrifying, it is a story of the quest for the impossible, an attempt to mine the complexities of love and in the process discover the sacrifices to be made in the pursuit of happiness.

©2003 Rose Tremain (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"The sense of period is forcefully conveyed....Her new level of ambition makes it perhaps the author's most important book yet." (Amazon.co.uk)

What listeners say about The Colour

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Beautiful writing and reading, but melancholy

Tremain really is a lovely writer - clear, intelligent, interesting people and places. I completely recommend this. However, slight health warning, it is really tinged with sadness throughout. Depending what state of mind you are in at the time of reading, the effect of listening for a while can be a bit much I found. One for when you are feeling strong and wanting to be provoked into thinking!

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Gold is not the colour - discuss

The Colour: narrative on the human condition, the pursuit of happiness or running away from it all? You choose. For me it's all three rearing their somewhat dark heads through the lead character - Joseph Blackstone. The colour of the narrative, and the exceptional delivery and characterisation by the narrator, is what sets this audiobook apart - the reason I've given it 4 stars. However, I was left sad and pensive without really knowing why. Maybe I should join a book club and analyse it!

8 people found this helpful

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Beautifully written and narrated.

I loved this book but audible short sort out the editing. The chapters do not relate to the chapters of the book which can make navigation difficult sometimes. The audible announcement immediately after the last word at the end was horrible.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Lovely narration

I really enjoy reading or listening to Rose Tremain's novels- there's a real depth to the characters (whether you like them or not) which makes them seem very 3 dimensional and believable. The narration was beautifully done - serene and yet passionate when it counts. I've never read about gold panning before or very much set in New Zealand so both elements made it an absorbing read/listen.

5 people found this helpful

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Wonderful story, beautifully read but what a shame Audible couldn't be bothered to edit it properly

The whole experience of listening to this book is marred by the absence of any editing

3 people found this helpful

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Great story, beautifully read but Audible editing poor

A wonderful evocative and human story set in the context of the New Zealand gold rush. The story itself and the reading of it are both wonderful but the editing in the transcription from the CDs it has been taken from is ham fisted at best and shamefully spoils the ending

3 people found this helpful

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Good story but ruined by the editing

I enjoyed the story but I would recommend buying the book, as it's clear that the narration has been stripped from an original CD recording and edited together poorly, which is quite jarring when you're trying to get lost in the descriptions. Buy the book instead!

2 people found this helpful

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Amateurish editing

This is a compelling story beautifully read by Eleanor Bron. However the quality of the editing was atrocious and definitely detracted from the narration. Frequently had to “rewind” to listen again as it interrupted the narrator and the flow of the story.

2 people found this helpful

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what a dirge, badly edited too

When I got to chapter 12 I realized why the editing was so poor when a voice suddenly boomed "DISK TWELVE". There are no gaps between some chapters, not even a breath!! the editing is terrible!
I usually love Rose Tremain but this was slow and miserable.
It was read with no warmth.
Even Rose Tremain fans should save their credits rather than get this!!

1 person found this helpful

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NZ gold rush

I had read this when it was first published and wanted to revisit it having just read the Luminaries and had my interest in the gold rush renewed. Rose Tremain does not disappoint with the fascinating story of British settlers arriving in New Zealand to start a new life and then getting drawn into the gold rush, with all its hardships. Beautifully read by Eleanor Bron whose voice I could listen to for hours.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Alison
  • 10-06-06

An almost perfect experience

This is a beautifully-written and very engaging novel, very well-read by Ms Bron. The characters, particularly Harriet, are rounded and believable and the story builds well from the nature of the people and their relationships with one another. The only irritating flaw was the over-dramatised psychic connection between the young boy, Edwin, and his Maori nurse, Pare. This relationship and its consequences were the only part of the story which felt over-written, despite the length and sweep of the narrative. I didn't want the book to end.

7 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Cheryl R Hoyle
  • 20-09-07

13hrs and 29 minutes out of my life

First let me say I am a huge fan of Rose Tremain and was therefore excited about downloading and listening to this book. However, out of the 50+ audio books I’ve heard this is the first book I ever felt so disappointed about that I felt the need to write a review.

The first problem is the narrator, Eleanor Bron, and the production crew. I normally have no problem understanding even the heaviest English accent yet I found myself rewinding the book many times to try to understand what Ms. Bron had said. She sounds as if she is talking with a mouth full of marbles. On top of that there are volume changes between sentences where you can tell that she stopped and restarted later and even times where you can hear production cues that the listener is not supposed to hear.

As for the content of the book itself; the first two thirds of the book is tedium. I kept listening and plodding along because I thought “This is THE Rose Tremain, it’s going to get better”. It wasn’t until the last third of the book that anything substantial happened and even then it was a disappointment. Almost all of the main characters are very unlikable and delusional. The few likable/interesting characters are side characters whose stories are either not followed thru or meet tragic ends.

All in all this entire book was a major disappointment

12 people found this helpful

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  • Dr Sophie Henshaw
  • 27-06-19

I love Rose Tremain but...

I'm a big fan of Rose Tremain's work, I think she's an amazing writer and this is why I chose this book. However, there are many flaws in this story. The main character, Harriet, is interesting, but her husband Joseph Blackstone is about as unpleasant and uninteresting as you can get. The writer hints he has some form of autism and that he is in fact also extremely selfish.

About two thirds of the way through the book, I found hearing about him almost unbearable and at that point seriously considering stopping listening and asking for a refund. It was so miserable and long drawn out.

Also, too many side characters were introduced and details about their lives totally irrelevant to the plot - like what one miner would buy his mother if he found gold.

Overall I would say this is a harrowing tale, at times unbearably so. Not exactly riveting or entertaining.

I far prefer Rose's other books - most notably Restoration, which in my view is near perfect.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 16-03-18

beautifully read

disappointing that the audible tagline came almost on top of the last words spoken which took away from the ending.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • RM Simon
  • 21-01-11

A very disappointing Tremain

I give Eleanor Bron 4 stars but the book no more than 2. Uninteresting characters, who are mostly unpleasant to boot; somewhere around the middle a serious strain of the spiritual creeps in, primarily but not entirely in the relation of a child to a Maori. I found this, too, wearingly tedious.

1 person found this helpful

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  • TiffanyD
  • 01-03-17

Some problematic supporting characters

What did you love best about The Colour?

I thought the depiction of the New Zealand settler's life and then the gold rush was wonderfully written, especially scenes of how easily the weather can destroy everything human-built. Harriet, Lillian and even Joseph were all great characters with whom you could muster various degrees of sympathy. The reader was also quite engaging.

Any additional comments?

My biggest complaint was that Maori nursemaid and the Chinese farmer both struck me as a variation of that Hollywood trope, "the magical black man." Unlike some other supporting characters, who somehow still come across as the main characters in their own story, these two seem to exist more to provide character development for a "more important" (white) person.