Sacred Country, Rose Tremain's 1992 novel, has recently been released in paperback. It was pretty much ignored by the gay community when it first came out, which is too bad, because it's a beautifully written, moving and enormously compassionate story of an English girl's discovery that she feels more like a man that a woman. It's a quirky story, filled with odd and frightening characters - a butcher's son who sings himself mute trying to yodel, a gay dentist who lives with his mother on a cliff slowly crumbling into the sea, a woman driven insane by her violent husband - all of which add up to a piercing and insightful map of loneliness.
Tremain writes simple sentences, straight- forward language which changes subtly to reflect the passing of the 30 years the novel covers. It's a smart choice, the simplicity. Sometimes the novel is confident and direct, as when Mary, the protagonist, tells her pet