7/24/13: It's always interesting to get other readers' 'take' ...more
Ruth Rendell (writing as Barbara Vine) is one of the most masterful storytellers of contemporary times. This novel is so carefully plotted, so meticulously -- and dare I say perfectly -- crafted that the sheer magnitude of what it must have taken Rendell to work out every small piece of the puzzle is just ...more
Anyway, I had long forgotten why the book was recommended, but I do know I shared a similar literary sensibility with the long ago list-provider, so I added it to the roster of requests. Kitty, you were absolutely right, it's a book worth recommend ...more
The first Vine book I read was The Blood Doctor and while I could figure out where the book was going, it was still compelling.
This book is great. You think you have it figured out, then you're wrong. Then you think "aha", but still no.
My only quibble is that three of the chapters were rather, well, dry. I understand why they were dry (it was trial transcripts), but still.
Awesome. Vine does a really good job with the character of Ann. The behavior fits and so ...more
I won't let this stop me from trying more Vine stories on for size as I've ...more
I just feel compelled to ask why on earth was Asta's name changed ??? And was some one employed to go through the whole book editing the change ? Or did American readers open the first page and then find out the name was wrong ? What a perfectly senseless thing to do...I do not believe that American Barbara Vine readers, or anyone else for that matter would not buy a book because the ...more
On the surface, they are the same kind of book, which prompted the comparison. It is a genre that has been made popular by Robert Goddard -- a mystery in the past that has repercussions for people in the present. I found The child's child unsatisfactory and unsatisfying. I had started if with the hope of finding something as good as Asta ...more
The main character, Asta, puts the lie to the idea that all people (especially women) in the olden days were nice, sweet, submitted willingly to their husbands, and wanted lots of children. Asta was pretty cool - in ...more
'Hope is a horrible thing, I don't know why these church people call it virtue, it is horrible because it is so often disappointed'. P.13
'Hope deferred may make the heart sick at first; later it leads only to boredom...Pleasire came later.Inquiring about ...more
the advantage of being the 'best mystery writer in the english speaking world' - as no less than three of the review quotes in this book tell me - is that you can persuade people to read about six chapters of a book before even giving them a hint as to what the mystery is. i can see that there is plenty of ground work laid in the beginning but if i hadn't known the author or read the praise for this book would i have read this far?
something about this book just didn't grab me. i just don't know...more
It is 1905. Asta and her husband, Rasmus, have come to East London from Denmark with their two little boys. With Rasmus constantly away on business, Asta
keeps loneliness and isolation at bay by writing a diary. She keeps up this journal writing from 1905 until almost the time of her death in the late ‘60’s. These diaries, published over 70 years later, reveal themselves to be more than ...more
It presents as historical -- excerpts from diaries written by a Danish woman living in London in early 1900s. I keep wanting to know what it is based on! [a real person? real diaries?:] Seems impossible to invent all that, though that seems to be something many novelists are doing these days -writing fiction parading as history.
I enjoyed reading it, and trying to imagine living in that time and place. Interesting asides on ...more
This is a many leveled mystery taking place over nine decades and the lives of three generations of women. While a murder occurs, the central mystery is one of identity, not who-done-it. (Of ...more
I'm pretty good at figuring out "who-done-its" before the ending, but this one came as a complete surprise.
Just a diary, an unromantic women, an old murder and a great story.
I really enjoyed the flow of this story - Barbara Vine is able to so easily flow from time period to time period in the telling - I thought I had the plot figured but, alas, the author had me till the end to solve the mystery (s).
This is one of my favourite books of all time, I must have read it 6 or 7 times (possibly more, I haven't counted). I love how Asta's story is slowly told alongside the 2 mysteries to which it is key. Asta is a great character who personality shines through from her early 20s in the diary entries, to her last years. It is a book which more than stands up to re-reading, you can try and pick out the clues o ...more
I started out feeling sorry for the main character of Anna, but soon discovered her true character of cruel mother who only loves one of her children and makes a point to show favoritism to that one child. While the others weren't abused, they certainly were overlooked. I grew to dislike Anna immensely and felt zero sympathy for her even though I am also the mother of ...more
The book contains excerpts from 60 years of diaries that, according to the narrator, have been publi ...more
Thanks to the library at home, I got to finish. This is a strange, interesting book. Anna, the diary-keeper, is enigmatic, unlikeable, and frustrating. She takes long walks on Hampstead Heath, lies to her children, and bullies her maid. But hers is only half the story.
Though a grisly murd ...more
The book does such a great job at letting you forget it's fiction , it comes off as almost non fiction in the recollection of the past. The trial in the end can drag on a bit but it was an excellent book and told through so many different perspectives, in such a fascinating way only Ruth could've done.