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The Chimney Sweeper's Boy
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The Chimney Sweeper's Boy

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  2,056 ratings  ·  185 reviews

A daughter setting out to write a biography of her author father uncovers deadly secrets in his past
After celebrated author Gerald Candless dies of a heart attack, his daughter Sarah sets out to write his life story. But Sarah soon learns that although Gerald passionately loved his two daughters, he had a complicated and mysterious private life. The more she uncovers, t

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ebook, 352 pages
Published February 22nd 2011 by Open Road Media (first published 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Chana
I had read this before some years ago but somehow it ended up on my to be read shelf once again. Following one of bookcrossings "theme of the month" threads, Jan was jobs and careers, I picked this one up and read it again.
I did not remember most of it, although it had left me with some impressions that I would only recognize had become part of my thoughts when I read those parts this second time around. It is a very unhappy book for nearly every character, if you are looking for happy endings
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Sue
Barbara Vine is rising to the top of my favorite authors list. Her psychological suspense novels are all so individual, so very well written with wonderfully developed characters that I want to know more about....after the novel has ended. This novel is no exception.

The Chimney Sweeper's Boy is peopled by an odd assortment of characters whose histories are the fabric of the novel. It's not a standard mystery, not a standard type plot, but you'll find yourself compulsively reading to find out how
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Barbara
Dec 07, 2010 Barbara rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barbara by: Cynthia/ Teresa
Shelves: mystery
It was a pleasure to discover Barbara Vine's gifted narrative on the pages of this book. It was no "standard", typical plot mystery. This complex tale is certainly character driven- and what an interesting lot these people are! Although it is not a small novel, it was compelling enough to cause me to yearn to continue my reading when occupied elsewhere. Vine was able to maintain the tension until the very last sentence on the last page! I shall certainly pursue more books by this author!
Carol
The surprise ending, or what Vine seems to have intended to be a surprise ending, is patently obvious even from glancing over the summary on the dust jacket. And, geez, will you ever have a trip in front of you if you decide to take the long road to getting there. This book plodded on and on and on.

Vine's prose offers no whimsy or originality; it's pretty much four hundred pages of simple declarative sentences. There is very little dialogue, and what little of it exists is scripted entirely by
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Sandra
This was a pretty good book. At times I felt it dragged on just a little bit.

I found myself feeling irritated by the two very selfish daughters who treat their mother like she doesn't exist, and I'm bothered that by the end of the book, they STILL don't realize what their mother went through. I would have liked to see some resolution. I would have liked to have an actual ending to the story. It seems as though the story ends before there is any closure for any of the characters. I wanted to see
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Ann
I'm a huge Ruth Rendell fan, and I love her Barbara Vine persona novels the best.

This one is classic Barbara Vine. You know the "mystery" right away. It's the way the mystery is solved and how the story unfolds that's intriguing. You can see it coming about 100 pages from the end, but the way she hooks you in is by making you want to know the exquisite details of the story. The details aren't just technical things like guns, alibis, idiotic and awkward explanations, and the rest that normal "mys
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Bea Alden
Psychological mystery about the life of a recently dead father and husband. Gerald Candless, a well-known author, is much beloved by his two daughters, although disliked and resented by his long-suffering wife. When one of his daughters begins to write her father's biography, she discovers that his antecedents were quite other than he had portrayed. In fact at some point he had changed his identity and begun a totally new life. The puzzle is: why?
P. D. James writes: "Ruth Rendell writing as Barb
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Jo
Finished 11th February 2009.

This was a strange book. Hard to put down. I did not find a single character that I could feel true sympathy with, Gerald was arrogant and domineering. I wanted to shake Ursula for being so submissive and accepting of his mental abuse. The daughters were spoilt and immature. What a family but a good read and I was intrigued to find what his secret was at the very end of the book! I can't see why the events would cause Gerald to become so unloving and hard, can somone
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Bruno Bouchet
An enjoyable unchallenging read but definitely not "one of the finest, most accomplished and chilling tales of psychological suspense ever written" as claimed on the cover. There was no suspense. A daughter discovers the truth about her father's false life after he dies while her mother enjoys the freedom of life without him. It is a good read, the wife of the author's blossoming is great but it wasn't chilling and there was no real suspense. The conclusion was pretty obvious from half way throu ...more
Stephen Hayes
I've just finished reading this book for the second time. I first read it about 10 years ago, and realised i could not remember a great deal about the plot, though I could remember particular scenes and places mentioned in the book.

It's a mystery novel, but not not a murder mystery. The daughter of a well-known author is asked to write a memoir or biography of her father after his death, but in spite of having enjoyed a close relationship with him as a child, she finds she knows very little abo
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J.R.
When respected novelist Gerald Candless dies of a sudden heart attack he leaves behind two stricken daughters and a neglected wife who is finally free to live her own life.

Candless’s narcissistic self-absorption and obsessive devotion to his daughters have left Ursula, his wife, puzzled and, eventually, estranged. Hope, the younger daughter, is shattered. But Sarah, the elder, decides to take on his publisher’s request and write a biography of her father.

Her research soon uncovers shocking revel
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Deanna Brown
I enjoyed this book for the most part, but the characters were utterly unlikable for me. Gerald's daughters Sarah and Hope (especially Hope) were pretentious, spoiled little girls who were nearly unbearable to listen to. I liked their mother Ursula quite a bit better, but I was still greatly bothered by how passively she endured Gerald's abuse. Without giving any spoilers, I do not believe that the revelation at the end accounts for how Gerald changed, and how much of a truly awful person he bec ...more
Celia Powell
Barbara Vine is Ruth Rendell's pseudonym for her more... literary? psychological?... mysteries. The Chimney Sweeper's Boy is about the very unattractive character of Gerald Candless, a novelist, who is devoted to his daughters and ignores his wife. When he dies suddenly, one of his daughters is commissioned to write a book about her father and suddenly realises what little she knows about her father's past.

Vine makes unattractive people into really absorbing characters, whom you care about almos
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Amanda Patterson
Gerald Candless, a successful revered author, dies of a sudden heart attack. Gerald is married to Ursula and has two daughters, Hope and Sarah. Sarah, his eldest daughter adored him. She wants to memorialise him but soon finds out that her perfect father was not who he pretended to be.
Barbara Vine writes in a way that gives you nightmares and sleepless nights. So, do you really want to know who he was? Do we really want to know the secrets that drove him to live his life as a lie? Yes. Vine is
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Lex Bijlsma
Barbare Vine is het pseudoniem dat Ruth Rendell, beroemd auteur van puzzeldetectives, gebruikt voor haar boeken buiten het genre. Dit boek is wel een mysterie, maar het gaat niet over het opsporen van een moordenaar.

Als een beroemd schrijver overlijdt, neemt een van zijn dochters de taak op zich zijn biografie te schrijven. Daarbij ontdekt ze echter dat haar vader in 1951 een valse identiteit had aangenomen. Wie hij in werkelijkheid was, en waarom hij het nodig had gevonden alle contacten met zi
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Kaethe
I've always enjoyed the Vine books. They're so brooding, full of spaces where people don't connect with one another. Hell to live in, but perversely fun to read (at least my life isn't that awful).
Debby
Rarely does it happen that I complete a book and come to the conclusion that I didn't like the book. I've tried to come up with reasons to give it the 2-star "it was OK", but I just con't get there.
I was going along fine as the story was being set up. Imagine your father is a famous author who adores his daughters and appears to tolerate his wife. Suddenly he dies of a heart attack. His publisher asks one of the daughters to write a biography of her father. So far so good.
As she begins doing r
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Karen Brooks
Having never read a Barbara Vine before, but being recommended this book specifically and by someone whose judgement I value, I looked forward to starting it and I wasn't disappointed. The Chimney Sweeper's Boy is an extraordinary, character driven book that tells the story of the Candless family following the death of the patriarch, the famous novelist, Gerard Candless. The hugely successful Candless leaves behind a remote and unhappy wife, Ursula, and two utterly bereft daughters, Sarah and Ho ...more
Nina
A fabulous book, probably Vine's best so far. Really made me think, was shocking but proved that people aren't always what they seem. Did not want to get to the end of this story because I was so involved in the characters.

Favourite quotes:

'She was staring at the couple like a pet car in front of an empty plate' p. 45

'She had come home and luxuriated in her solitude, drinking too much and falling asleep fully clothed on the hearthrug'. P. 289

'Robert has his own beliefs about those who were exce
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Marigold
I re-read this book to fit my book group's "puzzle" theme. Barbara Vine's novels are always good puzzlers - never "who done it", but "why was it done". The Chimney Sweeper's Boy opens with the death of Gerald Candless. Candless was a famous writer, both best selling & critically acclaimed, who spent 30+ years in a loveless marriage & raised his two daughters to worship him - to a point where they are quite dysfunctional. Now in the process of researching her father's biography, daughter ...more
Philip
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hiba
I don't consider myself as a big fan of contemporary novels regardless their genre. However, I started reading the Chimney Sweeper's Boy after reading some reviews and after reading a good short story by Ruth Randall. It starts very well and it was gripping and hard to put down. But that was not enough for me. I didn't like any of the characters and all my feelings towards them were quite negative. Even Ursula who seemed to suffer an oppression and verbal abuse seemed very passive. After finishi ...more
Alisa
Like an Iris Murdoch mystery. Gerald Candless, who is mostly dead for the bulk of the book, but around whom the plot revolves, is a prolific and respected author who writes books with titles like "Purple of Cassius" and "A White Webfoot." About half-way through I identified him as a mind-70s Murdochian sort of author. Then I realized all his awful family were Murdoch-styled characters. I wonder if it was homage, critique, or coincidence.

I was really fascinated at the beginning of the book, and w
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Melaszka
Possibly Rendell's finest, IMO.

As with the Blood Doctor, she takes the current fad for genealogy as her starting point for a sweeping multi-generational epic about secrets and lies, the nature of family, identity and its reinvention. A thumpingly good mystery novel that also explores serious themes in a complex fashion.

Downsides: it's never a good idea to write about a community to which you don't belong and I imagine RR/BV may be guilty of patronising stereotypes. Can't say anymore without giv
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Jane Odgers
This is the story of best-selling novelist Gerald Candless, whose sudden death from a heart attack leaves behind a wife and two doting daughters. To sort through her grief, one of his daughters, Sarah, decides to write a biography of her internationally celebrated father. Within hours of beginning her research, Sarah comes across the first of what will be many shocking revelations. As her life is slowly torn apart, a terrible logic finally emerges to explain her mother's remoteness, her father's ...more
Trish
It's got the intricacy that is Rendell's trademark -- this time there is a mystery without a crime.

Noted author Gerald Candless dies at 71, leaving an embittered wife and two adoring daughters, Sarah and Hope. Sarah is approached by her father's publisher with the suggestion that she pen a memoir of life with her father. When she begins to do research, however she finds that her father's very identity is a puzzle. The real Gerald Candless died when he was a small boy, so who was calling himself
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Amy
How much more awesome is Barbara Vine than her artsy alter-ego, Ruth Rendell? The witty dialogue, elegantly drawn scenarios, and melancholy themes in this book rank Vine with Muriel Spark and even Iris Murdoch. My only complaint about The Chimney Sweeper's Boy is that the payoff, as in many good psychological mysteries, is wimpy. I contend that there's nothing trashy about a nice grisly murder, but many of the higher-brow mystery writers (I'm looking at you, Laura Lippman and P.D. James) seem to ...more
kasia
I think I just don't like mystery novels very much. This one had a somewhat intricate plot, but I found it pretty predictable after the first 1/3 of the book - once the pieces are set up, you (or at least I) can pretty much see where they need to go. This in itself isn't such a problem, my real issue with the book was that I didn't really like any of the characters, so I wasn't all that invested in what was going to happen to them. The two daughters especially were basically unbearable. The only ...more
John
I think -- no, more than that, I'm pretty certain -- that this is the finest, most accomplished Vine/Rendell novel I've read. It's variously called a mystery and a psychological thriller, but really it fits into neither of those categories. What it is is a novel as gripping and absorbing as you could hope for in a mystery or psychological thriller.

When bestselling literary novelist Gerald Candless dies of a heart attack, he leaves behind the widow whom for decades he has ostracized from his affe
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Nancy
Normally, if I don't like at least some of the characters in a book I won't even finish it. This one, though the characters are all flawed, kept me interested. I cared about these people even if I didn't particularly like them.

The story revolves around questions of identity. Even though the essential mystery is solved as far as the reader is concerned, I was left thinking about the characters and wondering what happens next.
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  • Adam and Eve and Pinch Me
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A.K.A. Ruth Rendell.

Rendell created a third strand of writing with the publication of A Dark Adapted Eye under her pseudonym Barbara Vine in 1986. Books such as King Solomon's Carpet, A Fatal Inversion and Anna's Book (original UK title Asta's Book) inhabit the same territory as her psychological crime novels while they further develop themes of family misunderstandings and the side effects of sec
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More about Barbara Vine...
A Dark-Adapted Eye Fatal Inversion Anna's Book The Brimstone Wedding The Minotaur

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