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The Child's Child

3.06 of 5 stars 3.06  ·  rating details  ·  1,473 ratings  ·  349 reviews
When their grandmother dies, Grace and Andrew Easton inherit her sprawling, book-filled London home, Dinmont House. Rather than sell it, the adult siblings move in together, splitting the numerous bedrooms and studies. The arrangement is unusual, but ideal for the affectionate pair -- until the day Andrew brings home a new boyfriend. A devilishly handsome novelist, James D ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published December 4th 2012 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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Teresa
This may be the last book by Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell) that I read. Maybe she's changing, or maybe I'm just getting tired of her (as I did, at some point, of Anne Perry).

This started out promising -- I enjoyed the literary references the narrator mentions as part of her thesis -- but almost right away I had doubts about the novel-within-this-novel, as one character immediately seemed too familiar (stereotypical?) though I was ready to excuse it as a convention for the fictional fiction. But a
...more
Adri
The writing is good, as always. But I am in two minds about the story. I enjoyed getting to know the modern day characters, although they sometimes act in ways which are never fully explained, or understood (perhaps I am just too daft?). Ruth Rendell (by any name) is a fiercely intelligent writer, but some parts of the story are just plain perplexing.

The book within the book outstayed its welcome. I understand that it is meant to juxtapose 1930's attitudes and mores with contemporary attitudes,
...more
Sue
Well, I'm finished. And sadly I found there was little "there" there.

I decided to read this right away after reading friend Teresa's review. I've read far fewer of the Vine/Rendell cannon and wondered if that might impact my response to the novel. Simply put, apparently not. As usual, I am not going to rehash plot. What I am going to say is that there is something missing here and it seems to be a large dollop of suspense. There is a story and a story within the story. Yes. Are there any true m
...more
Nick
As I have said many times before, and will no doubt say again, even Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell writing at not her best, is still better than most. Sadly, this does fall into the "not her best" category. The premise is this: a woman working on her PhD about the representation of unwed mothers in British literature, who lives with her gay brother, becomes pregnant out of wedlock. At the same time she is given a never-published novel by an otherwise famous novelist about a 1930s brother and sister: ...more
Sharonm
I think I’ve read every one of Ruth Rendell’s books written as Barbara Vine, and I’ve truly enjoyed them all. THE CHILD’S CHILD does not break that trend. The book begins with a modern day researcher of single motherhood and her gay brother inheriting a house that they intend to live in together. Predictably, one of them (the brother) falls in love and brings a third character into the mix, producing a fatal triangle. The new lover argues with the sister over whether society treated homosexuals ...more
Amanda Patterson
I’ve always preferred reading Ruth Rendell when she writes as Barbara Vine. I read this book in a day. The Child’s Child is a novel within a novel. Siblings, Andrew and Grace Easton, inherit Dinmont House in London. They both love the sprawling property and decide to move in together. Grace is working on a thesis about unwed mothers in English literature when Andrew falls in love with the gorgeous novelist, James Derain. James moves in with Andrew but is dismissive of Grace’s work. He is only in ...more
Barbara
After reviewing others' opinions, I can see why they vary so widely. This Barbara Vine book is a story within a story, which often presents its own problems. For me, I found that I had lost track of the original characters and their tales when I became absorbed in the second, necessitating that I turn back to reestablish these facts.
As a result of the aforementioned, I felt that Vine's narrative suffered.

While this was certainly not one of Vine's best offerings, there were certain strengths whi
...more
Stephen Hayes
At first I thought this was going to be one of the better books by Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine, when a doctoral student writing a thesis on unmarried mothers in Victorial literature is given an unpublished novel on the same topic, but set in the 1920s and 1930s to read. At the beginning it showed promise of being something like Possession by A.S. Byatt, or, if not quite at that level, like a Robert Goddard novel, with a mystery in the past coming back to haunt people in the present. I k ...more
Kasey Jueds
Wow. I hate to give anything by Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine (one of my all-time favorite, favorite writers) anything less than five stars. And I usually don't feel the need to. But The Child's Child was disappointing, sadly. I agree with the other reviewers who wrote that it starts out well... in the beginning I was hopeful that I'd love it. But then (too quickly), the book jumps from its present day story (which contains characters I loved and wanted to keep spending time with) to a novel-within- ...more
Jennifer
For something so obviously attempting to come off as steeped in 19th century literature, The Child's Child feels awfully rushed - character introduction is fairly slapdash, contrivances of plot jumbled together such as to feel forced, and then just when there might actually be a little honest dramatic tension building we cut to the narrative-within-the-narrative, where the story proceeds...well, nowhere, really.

Structurally the novel echoes the fictions it references so frequently, aping someth
...more
Doreen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Philip
A new novel by Barbara Vine is something to cheer about. This is Ruth Rendell's first Barbara Vine novel since 2008's THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT, and for me is her best since 2002's THE BLOOD DOCTOR (a book that many of her readers are divided on). She revisits two themes she has touched upon in previous Vine novels, the stigmas of illegitimacy and homosexuality.

The book is summarized on its publisher's website thus:
"When their grandmother dies, Grace and Andrew Easton inherit her sprawling, book-fill
...more
Laura
This is the first book I've read by Ruth Rendell and it may well be my last. The summary of the story sounded so appealing to me--a brother and sister who have just inherited an old home in England, the discovery of an unpublished manuscript written by a famous author, and a mystery that links the two. I always enjoy past and present parallel storylines and any book that has a story within it is usually a hit with me. But I thought Rendell spent so much time on the story set in the past (over tw ...more
Audrey Driscoll
I was disappointed with this book. The present-day and past stories are *not* "intertwined," as others have said -- it's more like a sandwich, with two thin slices of 2011 on either side of a lumpy chunk from 1929 into the 1950s. I liked only a few of the characters in this part of the book and didn't really care much about any of them. The 2011 story has little substance or character development, despite considerable potential. I kept thinking how much more I liked Vine's book A Dark-Adapted Ey ...more
Lobstergirl
Apr 22, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Rosa Klebb
Shelves: fiction

In the dictionary there should be a picture of this book next to "phoned-in." Truly a sad effort. The writing was at about a third grade level. The novel begins in 2011, with what I guess could be called a frame story. A youngish woman is writing her dissertation on unwed mothers in literature. She lives with her gay brother and his new lover in the house they have just inherited from a grandmother. Although she and the gay lover strongly dislike each other, one day he suddenly and, need it be s
...more
Rick Urban
A surprising disappointment, Barbara Vine's new novel reads like a first draft, or even worse, a work in progress that needed to be re-thought. The book is comprised of a story within a story, with the tale in the past being a novel based on real events that the main character in the framing story is reading. Both narratives deal with an unwed mother, her brother, and the brother's male lover. The framing narrative takes place in the present, with the historical story taking place between the wo ...more
Stephen Evans
Apr 21, 2013 Stephen Evans rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers of historial fiction and LGBTQ readers
Recommended to Stephen by: interview in Manchester Guardian
I've only just finished reading The Child's Child and, unlike many of you, I quite enjoyed the middle, historical section. On the other hand, like many of you, I do agree that most of the shortcomings of the book were in the modern setting-- incomplete character development and, especially, the jarringly abrupt ending! The value of the mid-section, in my GLBTQ opinion, was its "familiar" presentation. By that, I mean author Rendell (as Vine) comfortably interwove many of the accepted social teac ...more
Josephine Pennicott
Loved this book which I devoured whilst my daughter was having an operation and it kept me engrossed at a difficult time so hats off to Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell for that.
Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell is one of my favourite writers and this book was just as gripping as all her previous. I tend to favour the Barbara Vines more although sometimes the RR do seem to be very similar as well.
I found the book to brilliantly evoke the era of late 1920’s/50’s where fathers did disown their daughters or sen
...more
Patty
The Child's Child
By
Barbara Vine

My " in a nutshell" summary...

A sister and brother inherit a house. The brother invites his gay friend to stay. The gay friend is a not so nice person. Something happens between the gay friend and the sister.

My thoughts after reading this book...

This book is almost a story within a story...one that happens now and one that happened in 1929. One story involves a brother and a sister and his boyfriend. The other involves a family that has things to hide...quite a few
...more
Mary
I have loved Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell since I stumbled across Anna's Book in a library in Rancho Penasquitos, CA back in the early 90s. Once I discovered this fabulous and, thankfully, prolific author I scoured the shelves of every public library in San Diego County looking for more, more, more. Happily, or sadly perhaps, I have read everything she has written and am now reduced to an occasional re-read while I wait for her next offering.

Unfortunately...The Child's Child disappointed me. I st
...more
Shona
2.5 stars

The Child's Child is a framed narrative built around the experiences of homosexual men and unwed mothers in the early to mid-twentieth century, and then again in a current time frame. In each case, the central dynamic of the narrative revolves around a woman facing an unexpected pregnancy and her relationship with her gay brother.

The female characters in this book are fashioned around a core of selfishness, the brothers, naivete. The contemporary storyline is underdeveloped and weak, an
...more
Steve
This is an exceptional novel about love and prejudice and about changing social values. As other reviewers have noted, the novel is a story within a story, both dealing with attitudes concerning homosexuality and children born out of wedlock. The embedded story, which covers the period 1929-1947, focuses on three generations of an unloving family and the consequences to its members when they violate the mores of the period. In that era, homosexuality is a crime and an illegitimate child brings s ...more
Cleo Bannister
In The Child’s Child we meet siblings, Grace and Andrew who have inherited their grandmother Verity’s large London house. Deciding they want to keep it they decide to live there together, but, as the blurb reveals, they hadn’t considered what would happen when one of them moves their partner in, particularly if they didn’t get on. Tensions are soon revealed and the reader is party to the amount of introspection that Grace struggles with when she should be writing her dissertation.

Grace is explor
...more
Jo
I found this an enjoyable and intriguing read. Admittedly, the novel gets off to a slow start and I wasn't overly keen on the parts set in 2011. I didn't find the 'seduction' scene particularly believable. Few of the characters in this novel are particularly sympathetic and this has a distancing effect. That said, I found them intriguing enough to keep reading to the end. My favourite character was John Goodwin and I was upset at the way his lover treated him and how he ended up. The scenes depi ...more
Gina
Book Cover Description- From three-time Edgar Award-winning mystery writer Ruth Rendell, writing here under her Barbara Vine pseudonym, an ingenious novel-within-a-novel about brothers and sisters and the violence lurking behind our society's taboos.

When their grandmother dies, Grace and Andrew Easton inherit her sprawling, book-filled London home, Dinmont House. Rather than sell it, the adult siblings move in together, splitting the numerous bedrooms and studies. The arrangement is unusual, but
...more
Joy
Once Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine was one of my favorite authors. I read everything she wrote and thoroughly enjoyed the reads. But in the past ten years or so, that has changed, and I have been disappointed in the wordy, lengthy novels that never seemed to get to the point or end. Although The Child's Child still suffers from being too wordy, reading it was more enjoyable for me.

It is a novel within a novel, and really is not a mystery at all. It is, instead, the author's ruminations on being gay
...more
Stephanie Patterson
I love Ruth Rendell no matter under what name she writes. I had some reservations about this book but it was as a whole so compelling that I have to give it 5 stars. My bit of regret has to do with the contemporary story that frames the manuscript that Grace, it's main character is reading as she is working on her dissertation about the portrayal of unwed mothers in Victorian novels. I thought the story of Grace, her brother Andrew, and her brother’s lover who impregnates her after a single enco ...more
Felix Hayman
Haven't you noticed that as Ruth Rendell gets older her story lines get longer and as P.D James get older her story lines are getting shorter?Both writers seem to have come to a point in their writing where they wish to tackle slightly more "difficult" subjects in their own way.In "A Child's Child" Rendell tackles the themes of homosexuality and bisexuality in a way reminiscent of John Fowles (but not as effective).Her story of the gay guy who gets a woman pregnant and the gay guy who marries to ...more
Carolyn
Ruth Rendell has been renowned for her psychological mysteries. She also writes under the name of Barbara Vine.The Child's Child is more a study of how society's attitudes, prejudices and laws have evolved from those of the 1930's and 1940's. As a teenager in the 1950's they were not much changed from those portrayed in earlier decades. There are several killings in the book, but these are not a mystery as we know at once who committed them.
We are introduced to Grace, a modern woman in her 20'
...more
Jo
'The Child's Child" is a novel within a novel, two individual but interlinking entities and for me, two seperate but interlinking opinions. For the outer layer which introduces us to Grace, her brother Andrew and his lover James in present day London, only two stars seemed appropriate. The dialogue for three thirty somethings, and I speak as a fellow thirty something, seemed antiquated and awkward. Perhaps this was because the interior novel is set in the 1920-50's and a further link was being m ...more
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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
...more
More about Barbara Vine...
A Dark-Adapted Eye The Chimney Sweeper's Boy Fatal Inversion Anna's Book The Brimstone Wedding

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“By the age I was then I ought to know the truism that things always look different in the morning. As the night comes on and the deeper it gets, the more mad we are, the more prone to dreadful fears and fantasies. In the morning, not when we first wake up but gradually, things begin to look unlike what they looked like at eleven, at midnight.” 1 likes
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