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The Brimstone Wedding

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,956 Ratings  ·  164 Reviews
Jenny's marriage is loveless, and she is having an affair. She works at an old people's home, where she is especially fond of Stella, a gracious, dignified woman dying of cancer - whose own secrets parallel Jenny's - with the difference that she may have been involved in murdering her lover's husband . . .

Both a finely crafted mystery and a disturbingly honest depiction of
Paperback, 312 pages
Published January 30th 1997 by Penguin (first published December 19th 1995)
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There is something very addictive about this story of love affairs and bad marriages set in the past and the present. Vine certainly knows how to keep her reader interested even as she slowly feeds out more plot details and that reader begins to see the inevitable conclusion. Stella is a 70 year old woman who has come to a residence home to die, having late stage cancer. She forms a bond with Jenny who she calls Genevieve, who is her caregiver, or carer as they are called.

The two form a bond, bo
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You can't go wrong with Ruth Rendell. The late great Baroness Rendell has left behind a hugely impressive body of work when it comes to psychological thrillers. Barbara Vine is slightly trickier. Rendell has used that pseudonym for her more serious, more dramatic work and some of the books lack the delicious dynamic of her other ones. This one was definitely a winner, though. A story about affairs, specifically affairs of married individuals, different players, different timelines, invariably we ...more
Jun 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, gothic
What makes ordinary people do creepy, psychologically disturbing things, and then retreat to a life of the ordinary, covering up the events of their past?

Jenny works at a retirement home and becomes close to Stella, one of the patients. They both have their secrets, and this brings them closer as they reveal to the other. Jenny is just beginning her secret life, but dreams of being close to the unordinary, in touch with superstition and the macabre. In the unfolding events of the story she loses
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am loss for words at the moment as I try conclude this book for a review. Right now I just want to savor what I just read.
First of. all I love the title. Very fitting after learning the meaning of it.
Secondly, I love how the author took her time presenting the stories especially with two women whose lives seem somewhat similar.
Third of all, I'm very well pleased how well it was written in order to bring English county, characters. and etc come alive and vividly. I also love how the author was
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Barbara Vine, aka Ruth Rendell, book that I've read. It is a total departure from Rendell's other books; that's what a brilliant writer she was. There will never be another like her, as she had her own unique style and literary talent.

The story was very detailed and drew me in immediately. There are two main characters. Genevieve "Jenny" is the thirty-two-year-old who works at an upscale retirement home and sees to the needs of the tenants. Stella is 72 and is suffering from l
It's official now. Ruth Rendell is now one of my very favorite authors.

At first blush, the premise of this story is a bit hokey. THE BRIMSTONE WEDDING is about a seemingly reserved and proper housewife, Stella Newland, who begins to confide in her carer, Geneieve Warner, about her secrets. They are both women of secrets: Stella's 30 year old love affair and Geneieve's brand-new one. Stella reminsence of the past, however, isn't all roses: she hints that she knows about the disappearance of Gild
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Vine (Rendell)at her very best. Unputdownable.
Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Barbara Vine (and alter-ego Ruth Rendell) often starts her books at the end.* It's a brilliant device in her hands, making her novels whydunits rather then whodunits. The dark stories become darker as the narrative unfolds.

My favorite Rendell opening line, from A Judgement in Stone, is: "Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write." There's the ending, right there. But as you read on, not only do you have even more questions (Why is she going to kill them? Why
Lina Simoni
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Before I share my opinion about this book, I must confess that I did not read the actual writing at first. I listened instead to the audiobook. It is read by Juliet Stevenson, a fantastic British actress. In fact, I found The Brimstone Wedding on Audible as I was looking for recordings by Stevenson. Her rendition of the book is so fantastic that I bought the book afterwards and went through it again. This is the first story by Barbara Vine I took on, so I did not quite know what to expect. I was ...more
Oct 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not the typical Barbara Vine, nevertheless an enjoyable read.
A story about dull marriages, uninterested husbands and philandering wives.
A story of2 marriages separated by at least a score of years, the connecting thread being the same house used for rendezvous by the wives with their married lovers.
The older lady is now a terminal cancer patient in an institute being taken care of by he younger lady.
the events take time to untold, as conversations between the two,as well as soliloquy by the you
Dec 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
This is a new author for me and I'm torn between a 2 and 3 as a rating. It's a charming mystery that will appeal to anglophiles & I foresee an addiction to Rendell shortly despite the rating. I won't classify this as a "beach" read, as this author is so highly enjoyable & readable & perceptive it seems to be more than that. She knows human nature, all right. I see a few similarities with Iris Murdoch who was, I vaguely recall, darker.
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Deeply revealing and personal. Totally absorbing.

Favourite quotes:

'Love is a frightening thing. I realise that I'm frightened so much of the time, afraid of losing him, afarid of discovery...infear of not being his equal, of not matching up to what he wants, of him changing because he is disillusioned'. p.185
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Chilling and tragic. The story teller drops many hints of the tragedy that changed her life. And even though you know what will be finally revealed, you are not prepared for the detail and description of it. A haunting tale told masterfully.
Elizabeth Elwood
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is the type of quiet, slow read that Ruth Rendell, in her Barbara Vine persona, excels at. It is easy for the reader to see where the book is heading, but its predictability has a kind of gripping intensity. It takes an exceptional writer to create a story where the reader knows what the outcome will be and is still compelled to read on, and The Brimstone Wedding fell into this category for me.

The likeable narrator, Genevieve, is an assistant in a care home, and one can tell right awa
Todd Ackerman
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not my usual....was beautifully slow, revealing the main characters slowly and almost as an after thought. It's a mystery....kind of. A romance...kind of. A glimpse into two peoples' lives who had secrets upon secrets. Highly recommend.
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
I did enjoy this...but was not happy about Ned. The writing at the end left me a bit disappointed. But overall I do like her writing.
Mar 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my very favorite Vines, one I seem drawn to re-read every two or three years - I just re-read it this past January - it "called" to me whilst I was in the midst of reading another book, and I couldn't resist!

As with many Vines, there are parallel stories - Jenny is in the thrall of her first extra-marital affair, when Stella Newland, one of the patients in the nursing home where Jenny works, reveals a secret to Jenny that not even her children know: she owns a house a few miles aw
Kirsty Darbyshire
Feb 01, 2011 rated it liked it
This is probably the least mysterious and least psychological story I've read from Vine/Rendell. The action takes place in a small Norfolk village where Jenny Warner is caring for Stella Newlands who is dying of lung cancer in a residential home. It's the kind of gradually unfolding story that Vine is good at where you aren't quite sure what the real mystery is going to turn out to be. Only in this case I didn't think that there was really anything discovered that was worth the build up.

I enjoye
Amanda Lukacs
Sep 17, 2012 rated it did not like it

I never write reviews but this book sucked. I read it because I was out of books and it came up on an Amazon list for the week or month's lower priced books for my Kindle. The summary seemed interesting enough but the book was written in such a confusing way.

There are 2 points of view throughout the story- Stella and Jenny. Normally, that's not a problem in a book if its made clear when the POV is changing but with this book, I found myself rereading sections because I'd realize that I had bee
James Barnard
Mar 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
The uninitiated may wonder what the difference was between Ruth Rendell and Barbara Vine. The answer can be found here.

The Rendell books are firmly set in the real world, usually feature an antagonist who can’t quite function in the real world, and there’s a rational explanation for everything, even apparently supernatural elements. There’s no such certainty in ‘The Brimstone Wedding’. This is a rural environment where the story is told from the point of view of someone who is very much in char
Oct 31, 2013 rated it liked it
I love reading Barbara Vine books but I knew there was a reason it has been awhile. That reason is that they are so ultimately grim!
The ending on this one was just awful, more awful than I could have predicted. Not badly written of course, just devastating as a story. It was enough to make me go off the idea of romantic love. This is a very sad and disturbing story!
An old woman in a nursing home and a young woman who cares for her become friends, sharing confidences as time goes on. The older w
Marie France Asselbergh
May contain spoilers if you intend to read, but I wouldn't recommend wasting the time.

After reading 2-3 books by Barbara Vine and thoroughly liking them, expectations were high but ultimately doomed.
After some fifty pages into the story the outline of the tale and unfortunately even its outcome were all too clear and no real surprises in store.

Two female protagonists, contemporary, drab Jenny and the more sophisticated... already her name escapes me?! share a certain naiveté towards life, love a
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, 2015
Though the bulk of this book takes place during the 1970's and 1990's, as I listened to it, I kept picturing it in the style of a 1940's film noir, like "The Postman Always Rings Twice" or "Suspicion". And that's the point, isn't it? There's a bitter former film star, lovers plotting against their spouses, and speeding cars. A film noir always has speeding cars.

And the book ends shockingly. I was doing dishes as I listened to the end of the book and actually swore in surprise. I'm still shocked.
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book about the parallel life stories of caregiver and elder took some time to get into but sticking with it was worth it! Vine (really Ruth Rendell) crafts an amazing, slow-paced story about the line between love and obsession as she slowly invites the reader in to Genevieve's present and Stella's past. Each woman experiences the challenges of a consuming love affair as they struggle to keep their sense of self and right and wrong afloat. Getting into Genevieve's character was a bit difficu ...more
Jayne Charles
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read on the back of Barbara Vine's books (Grasshopper I think it was) that she 'writes very well about young people'. I thought they had that the wrong way round - I'd say she writes very well about old people. Both in this and in Asta's Book she creates very credible, interesting elderly characters. This has two stories - Stella, the old lady in a nursing home and what happened to her in her youth, and the story of Jenny who works in the nursing home, unravels the mystery, and has an affair w ...more
Mar 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find as I read more of Rendell’s “Vine” thrillers the more I like them. This one is one of my favorites. The only one I could not get into was The House of Stairs, which I will try again someday. I found this book a little slow in parts but did not mind because I knew there was something, that when revealed, would make it worthwhile. Probably because of the way I read, each word, I was able to figure out the mystery of Gilda’s disappearance but there was still one thing I had not anticipated - ...more
Apr 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This turned out to be a Vine that worked for me quite well (unlike The Birthday Present: A Novel, which I'd just read). Jenny Warner is a caregiver at a retirement home, where she comes to know Stella Newland, who is dying of lung cancer. Stella has long held on to secrets about her life, which she eventually reveals to Jenny, secrets which resonate with Jenny's own life. Vine intertwines her narrative threads masterfully, slowly uncovering the truth behind Stella's past and Jenny's present and ...more
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
It had been quite some time between drinks for me and Barbara Vine. Despite many paperback culls over the years, I could never quite bring myself to recycle the Vines/Rendells. I was drawn to this book because it was narrated by the awesomely gifted Juliet Stevenson. Had I read it myself, I would have enjoyed it, but having it read to me by Juliet made it a sublime experience. I'd forgotten how deftly Vine captures her characters. Every utterance and action is absolutely authentic, and the writi ...more
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
I buy a lot of Kindle Daily Deals on Amazon. I check out the synopsis and reviews before I buy them....but I have over 50 books to read on my Kindle. I like it this way because when I choose a book to read on my Kindle, I almost never remember what it's about.

And that's how it was with this one. I went in blind and I enjoyed the ride. It's not an action driven, it's definitely dialogue driven, but that was enough for me.

I wish it had been about 50 pages started to drag
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-fiction
I really enjoyed this book, even though I found it a bit predictable in places. The way Stella's and Jenny's stories weave together was great, and the descriptive writing really brought it all alive. Despite the ending not being all that happy - in that the characters didn't get all the wanted - I thought it was the best ending it could have. I'm sure it will stay with me for a while. My Mum read it too and she liked it just as much.
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  • The Bridesmaid
Pseudonym of 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
More about Barbara Vine...

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