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Sacred Country

Rose Tremain

1992, Washington Square Press

321 Pages

From the Cover

On February 15, 1952, as England observes two minutes of silence in honor on the dead King, Mary Ward, age six, realizes with perfect clarity her true identity:  "I have a secret to tell you, dear, and this is it:  I am not Mary.  That is a mistake.  I am not a girl.  I'm a boy."

Mary's fight to become Martin, society's hypocrisy, and its abundant left-of-center characters are the core of this remarkable and intimate novel.  Sacred Country spans three decades, from the repressive English countryside of the fifties to the swinging London of the sixties and the rhinestone tackiness of seventies America.   Emotional yet unsentimental, as daring and inventive as Virginia Woolf's Orlando, Sacred Country inspires us to reconsider the essence of gender, and proposes new insights in unraveling that timeless malady known as the human condition - insights certain to touch and possibly even unmask the "sacred country" within us all.

"Sacred Country is . . . about the unexpected and its pleasures, the thrill of rounding a corner and finding something is not at all what you thought, even when that something is yourself . . . brilliant." - Carol Anshaw, The Voice Literary Supplement

"Sacred Country is a beautiful, knowing novel about isolation and loneliness . . . " - The New Yorker

"The writing in this novel is a sheer delight . . . skilled, intelligent storytelling at its best." - Lynn Freed, The Washington Post

"A stunning achievement. . . . Rose Tremain's purpose is to probe and illumine the mystery of identity with particular poignancy and rare compassion. . . . intricate and rewarding fiction." - Robert E. Hosmer, Jr., The Boston Sunday Globe

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