It is strange to think that Rose Tremain is always more concerned with outsiders than insiders. To those familiar only with her best-selling, prize-winning novels like Restoration, Music & Silence and most recently The Colour, she has acquired a lustrous Establishment sheen as the respectable face of historical fiction. Yet just as impressive, and interesting, are the fictions set in modern times. Tremain has explored the minds of batty old Marxists, property developers in France, transsexuals in America and a teenaged boy in love with a very much older woman. It is these works that have pushed her to develop most, although they are probably less commercially successful.
Lev, in The Road Home, is not therefore such a big change of direction, though he embodies what is surely one of the pressing problems of our time. Marina Lewycka has written two splendidly funny novels about immigrants, and a couple of years ago Sam North wrote The Unnumbered, a