Marigold's Reviews > The Chimney Sweeper's Boy

The Chimney Sweeper's Boy by Barbara Vine
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Apr 13, 10

bookshelves: set-in-england, psychological-mystery
Read in April, 2010

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 discovers her father was not who he claimed to be. Prior to his marriage, he'd left his family of origin behind, changed his name, & faked the details of his early life to maintain the cover-up. Why did Gerald leave his family & take on a new identity? Why did he marry Ursula & stay with her for over 30 years - when he clearly didn't love her? Why did he need his daughters to love him so desperately? Now that he's gone, will they survive?

Characters - Mostly supremely unattractive. I liked Ursula. Setting - England/London, probably 1970s. Writing - This is what keeps me coming back to B. Vine. Because she's a skilled writer, you want to keep reading & you want to find out what will happen - in spite of yourself. Overall feeling at end of book - glad that icky Gerald is dead; hopeful of daughters being dead; hopeful that Ursula will escape to some tropical island with a new love. Hard to believe anyone would do what Gerald did - so I'm glad things have changed over the years.


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