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Rose Tremain’s new novel is a saga of love and greed set during the mid-nineteenth-century gold rush in New Zealand. Newlyweds Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from England, along with Joseph’s mother, Lilian, 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 hides the discovery from both his wife and mother and becomes obsessed with the riches awaiting him deep in the earth. Abandoning his farm and family, he sets off alone for the new goldfields over the Southern Alps, a moral wilderness where many others, under the seductive dreams of “the color,” rush to their destinies.
Harriet decides to pursue her own journey toward an uncertain future. But nothing has prepared her for what happens to her when she arrives at the gold diggings. Amid squalor and confusion, burning heat and icy flood, Harriet comes face-to-face with the true cost of desire.
Beautifully written, hauntingly evocative, and by turns both moving and terrifying, The Color is the story of a quest for the impossible, an attempt to mine the complexities of love and in the process discover what it is that makes men and women happy.
Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: Gold mines and mining Fiction, Married people Fiction, New Zealand Fiction, Immigrants Fiction