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Preview — Asta's Book by Barbara Vine
In the early 1900s Rasmus Westerby moves his wife Asta and their two young boys from their native Denmark to London.
Rasmus parks his family in the middling neighborhood of Hackney and leaves for long stretches of time, trying to become a business success.
For her part Asta doesn't like Hackney, disdains English people, has little interest in her sons, and has no love for her husband - who she thinks only married her for the dowry of 5,000 kroner. As it happens Asta is pregnant again (characters ...more
7/24/13: It's always interesting to get other readers' 'take' ...more
I won't let this stop me from trying more Vine stories on for size as I've ...more
The book begins as the diary of Asta, a Danish woman whose husband's work has brought their family to ...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, it hasn't changed my mind about the writing. I find Rendell somehow uninvolving a ...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
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
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
“But perhaps she told Hansine…”
“This presumably refers to the fact…”
“It’s possible, you know…”
“Suppose Florence was different…”
I did a couple of word searches. The word “perhaps” appeared 126 times, and “suppose” was used 131 times.
The entire time I was reading this I was thinking “Where is this story going, and when will it ever end?”
NOTE: The story opens very promisingly and I enjoyed Chapter ...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
My major problem with Anna's Book is that it is just too long and rambling. Because of this ...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
Just a diary, an unromantic women, an old murder and a great story. ...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
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
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
It's the story of a niece telling the story of her Aunt and her grandma Asta's years in England. It has a couple of mysteries, and a missing person and a death or two.
My favorite book in 2010. ...more
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