A famous diary that may provide clues to a brutal murder, a present-day narrative by the diarist's grand-daughter, and a trial transcript - from these elements Rendell weaves toget...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
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
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
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
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
'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
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
A mistery that was uncovered like the cleaning of a painting. Along the way you can see that more parts came to the surface and you understand more about the whole picture. The ending annoyed me a little, like when you see a wonderful pose and you wonder ho...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
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
Not much to say about this one. As usual, Vine's characters seem to pop off the page. In this case, Anna was so realistic, in such an unlike-able, but human way, that I felt like I knew her. The historic mystery was good; though I figured bits out, I didn't get it all until just before the main character. The ending tied up all the loose ends a bit too neatly, but that was a minor quibble.
Out of Vine's novels, I think this one ranks up there with The Minotaur for me.
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
Anna's book is a diary of her life, and has become a wildly popular novel. Her granddaughter finds part of it was cut out - a part that would substantially change the family history. It alternates between Anna's telling of her life and her granddaughter's investigation into the past. I loved it.
Just a diary, an unromantic women, an old murder and a great story.
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...more