Friday, July 24, 2020

FFB-The Chimney Sweeper's Boy, Barbara Vine

(from the archives) Ruth Rendell but writing as Barbara Vine in this case.

Gerald Candless is a famous British writer who dies suddenly much to the sorrow of his daughters and puzzlement of his wife. Their marriage has always been odd to say the least. She has functioned more as a typist and sometimes muse than a wife. However the girls adore him and the oldest decides to write a biography about him.

This proves to be a difficult task as there are many blind alleys in his life. Is he even Gerald Candless?

And the reader is left with mysteries of her own at the book's end. Why did a man so mistreated by society mistreat his wife. Why did he undermine his daughter's relationship with their mother. Yes, we feel sorry for Gerald, but we also loathe many things about him.

This is a complex, complicated book, which I could not put down. Rendell does a wonderful job of showing what life was like in various time periods. Not one character is a cliche. Truly a terrific book. And she integrates his writing wonderfully into both his life and that of his wife's.


Jeff Meyerson said...

I've only read a few of the "Vine" books by Rendell, but I should probably catch up with the others, like this one.

pattinase (abbott) said...

For me, she is one of the best under any name.

George said...

I've read a number of "Barbara Vine" books, but not this one. I'll have to track down a copy. I'm a fan of Ruth Rendell and enjoyed the conversation I had with her at a BOUCHERCON where she revealed that her favorite U.S. author was...Henry James!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I would imagine she likes his psychological examination. Her work does that too.

Margot Kinberg said...

Oh, this is a good 'un, Patti, and I haven't thought of it in ages. Rendell/Vine did such a good job with exploring psychology in her work, didn't she?

pattinase (abbott) said...

THat was her great strength for me.