Anna's Book

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Anna is a young Danish woman living in London at the turn of the century. Homesick and lonely for her husband, she keeps her innermost thoughts in a diary. When she dies, these memoirs, spanning sixty years, will be published to international acclaim and huge commercial success. But as Anna's granddaughter discovers many years later, one entry has been cut out of the original journals, which may shed light on an unsolved multiple murder - the stabbing death of an elderly woman and her daughter - and the ...
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1994-10-01 Mass Market Paperback Good Mass market (rack) paperback. Glued binding. 384 p.

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1994 Paperback Very good Nice clean copy. Family owned since 1989. Selling online since 1995. Exceptional shopping experience, 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed!

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1994 Paperback Our goal with every sale is customer satisfaction, so please buy with confidence. Every order is shipped the same day or the next day. This is a used book, in ... good condition, that may show some signs of use or wear. Read more Show Less

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1993 Paperback Grade: C Catalog: Mystery General Synopsis: 383 pages. Anna is a young woman living in turn-of-the-century London, confiding her rebellious thoughts and ... well-guarded secrets only to her diary. Y... Read more Show Less

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Paperback Good ISBN 0-451-40549-8.

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reprint Good [ No Hassle 30 Day Returns ] [ Edition: reprint ] Publisher: Onyx Pub Date: 10/1/1994 Binding: Paperback Pages: 384.

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Overview

Anna is a young Danish woman living in London at the turn of the century. Homesick and lonely for her husband, she keeps her innermost thoughts in a diary. When she dies, these memoirs, spanning sixty years, will be published to international acclaim and huge commercial success. But as Anna's granddaughter discovers many years later, one entry has been cut out of the original journals, which may shed light on an unsolved multiple murder - the stabbing death of an elderly woman and her daughter - and the mysterious disappearance of an infant child. Vintage Vine, this novel alternates between passages from Anna's best-selling memoirs and the thoughts of Anna's granddaughter, recent heir to Anna's estate. With unforgettable characters and a plot rich in complexity, the mystery unfolds like a dark flower, petal by petal. Another tour de force from Barbara Vine.

The memoirs of a young Danish woman living in London at the turn of the century are published to huge commercial success. Many years later, the woman's granddaughter discovers that one entry has been cut out of the original journals--an entry that may shed light on an unsolved multiple murder.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From the pen of Edgar-winner Ruth Rendell's suspense-writing doppleganger Vine ( A Dark-Adapted Eye ) comes a sixth adroitly fashioned novel of insidious psychological dimensions. Anna, an uncompromising Danish wife stranded by her husband in 1905 London, slyly scribbles tales of her hateful neighbors, boorish servant and absentee spouse while awaiting the birth of a baby. Half a century later, prompted by a poison pen letter, Anna tells her favorite daughter Swanny a half-riddle about her true parentage, but refuses to reveal the whole story, which is entangled with the murder of two women and the disappearance of a toddler. After frantically searching Anna's many diaries for clues to no avail, Swanny publishes them to great acclaim; after Swanny dies, her niece Ann picks up the thread binding three generations and families and follows it to a neatly executed conclusion. Vine skillfully braids the lives of the three women, but it is Anna's voice--puckish, angry, mysterious--that commands attention as fat red herrings are dangled, then tossed. While not as taut and chilling as Vine's--or Rendell's--best books, a mordant eye and textured accounts of turn-of-the-century London lend this novel a sharp edge. (July)
Library Journal
Vine's most recent tale of psychological suspense revolves around a woman's discovery that the published memoirs of her deceased grandmother hid evidence of an elderly woman's murder and the disappearance of a little girl. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/93.
Emily Melton
Vine (aka Ruth Rendell) has already won the Edgar and the Golden Dagger, but her latest novel deserves both those awards and more. Brilliantly plotted and engrossingly told, "Anna's Book" is the story of three women whose lives are linked not only by their familial ties but also by their strong characters. Anna, a young Danish immigrant living in London at the turn of the century, records every aspect of her life--her loveless marriage; stories of her children, her neighbors, and her past; observations about fashion, politics, and society--in a set of diaries spanning more than 60 years. Anna's daughter, Swanny, born in 1905, discovers the diaries after Anna's death and decides to publish them. She has no idea they will make her famous. But despite her celebrity, Swanny is an unhappy woman who is convinced she's not Anna's real daughter. Ann is Swanny's niece, a child of the 1990s, and it is from her perspective that most of the story is written. Swanny is dead, and Ann has inherited not only the legacy of the diaries but a consuming curiosity about Swanny's true identity. The diaries hold the key to the strange and shocking secrets that shroud Swanny's past. Vine's story is utterly riveting, rich and multifaceted in its complexity. Her characters are wonderfully real and fascinatingly unconventional, and the clues to Swanny's identity will keep even the most adept mystery buffs guessing. "Anna's Book" only proves what most mystery readers have known for years: Ruth Rendell's psychological suspense novels, whether written under her own name or as Barbara Vine, are as good as crime fiction gets.
Kirkus Reviews
For her sixth Barbara Vine novel (King Solomon's Carpet, 1992, etc.), Ruth Rendell returns to the formula of the earliest Vines: the unfolding investigation—through the interpretation of contemporary accounts aided by memory—of a crime in the past. For over 60 years, Anna Westerby, a Danish ‚migr‚ trapped in London with her unloving husband Rasmus, has unburdened herself to a diary that is published after her death to acclaim and wide sales. It isn't until after Anna's daughter Swanny's death in 1988 that Anna's granddaughter Ann Eastbrook, acting on a suggestion from her onetime friend Cary Olver (who stole, married, and divorced Ann's former lover), wonders whether the hints of Swanny's illegitimacy—hints Anna placidly refused to confirm or deny during her lifetime—might be connected to the 1913 trial of her neighbor Alfred Roper for the murder of his wife Lizzie. Does Anna's diary hold the key to Roper's innocence or guilt? Does it reveal whether his baby daughter Edith, who vanished on the day of the murder and hasn't been seen since, is actually Swanny? Once Ann accepts Cary's theory that a brief, crucial section of Anna's entries for 1905 is missing from the diary, she decides that only these missing entries can clear up the mystery of Swanny's birthright. But the mystery, as Vine's fans will expect, takes several unexpected turns in past and present before Ann finally solves the puzzle of her family's history. Vine's character drawing—from grimly independent Anna to the luckless Roper family—is as firm as ever, and there's the bonus of an unusually intricate plot. Despite an anticlimactic ending, then: the best Vine since A Dark-AdaptedEye.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451405494
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/1994
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 4.22 (w) x 6.78 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Ruth Rendell
Ruth Rendell
From the start of her illustrious career, Ruth Rendell's novels have blurred the distinction between literature and commercial fiction. Although Rendell is classified as a writer of mysteries and crime thrillers, her elegant prose and superb literary skills elevate her far above the conventions of those genres.

Biography

From the start of her illustrious career, Ruth Rendell's novels have blurred the distinction between literature and commercial fiction. Although Rendell is classified as a writer of mysteries and crime thrillers, her elegant prose and superb literary skills elevate her far above the conventions of those genres.

Born Ruth Barbara Grasemann in London in 1930, she attended the Loughton County High School for Girls in Essex, then went to work as a features writer for the Essex newspapers. In 1950, she married her boss at the newspaper, journalist Donald Rendell. (They divorced in 1975, remarried two years later, and remained together until his death in 1999.) For the next decade, she juggled marriage, motherhood, and part-time writing. She produced at least two unpublished novels before hitting pay dirt in 1964 with From Doon with Death, the first mystery to feature Chief Inspector Reginald 'Reg' Wexford of the Kingsmarkham Police Force. An immediate bestseller, the book launched Rendell's career and marked the beginning of one of the most successful and enduring series in detective fiction.

In 1965, Rendell published her second novel, a deft crime thriller (with no police presence) entitled To Fear a Painted Devil. For 20 years, she was content to alternate installments in the Wexford series with a steady stream of bestselling standalones that explored darker themes like envy, sexual obsession, and the tragic repercussions of miscommunication. Then, in 1986, she began a third strand of fiction under the name Barbara Vine. The very first of these books, A Dark-Adapted Eye, earned a prestigious Edgar Award.

From the get-go, the pseudonymous Vine novels had a separate DNA, although Rendell has always had difficulty pinpointing the distinction. In an interview with NPR, she tried to explain: "I don't think the Barbara Vines are mysteries in any sense. I must say that. They are different, and that is partly how I decide. The idea would come to me and I would know at once whether it was to be a Barbara Vine or a Ruth Rendell ... The Barbara Vine is much more slowly paced. It is a much more in-depth, searching sort of book; it doesn't necessarily have a murder in it. It's almost always set partly in the past, sometimes quite a long way in the past. And I think all these things come together and make them very different from the Ruth Rendells."

Under both names, Rendell has garnered numerous awards, including three American Edgars and multiple Gold and Silver Daggers from England's distinguished Crime Writers' Association. In 1996, she was made a Commander of the British Empire; and in 1997, a Life Peerage was conferred on her as Baroness Rendell of Babergh. Although, in her own words, she was "slightly stunned" by the peerage, she takes her responsibilities quite seriously, writing in the mornings and attending the House of Lords several afternoons a week.

Praise for Rendell is lavish and seemingly unqualified. John Mortimer once proclaimed that she would surely have won the Booker if she had not been pigeonholed as a "crime writer." Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison has identified Rendell as one of her favorite authors. And Joyce Carol Oates has called her "one of the finest practitioners of the craft in the English-speaking world."

Good To Know

While working as a journalist, Rendell once reported on a local club's annual dinner without actually attending. Her story omitted the crucial fact that the after-dinner speaker had dropped dead at the podium in the middle of his speech! She resigned before being fired.

The pseudonym Barbara Vine derives from the combination of Rendell's middle name and her great-grandmother's maiden name.

"I wouldn't keep my age a secret even if I had the chance," Rendell has said. "But I don't have the chance. Regularly, on February 17, the newspapers tell their readers my age."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Barbara Vine
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 17, 1930
    2. Place of Birth:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      Loughton County High School for Girls, Essex

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