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.

Product Details

Viking Penguin
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Meet the Author

Barbara Vine is the pen-name of Ruth Rendell. She has written fourteen novels using this pseudonym, including A Fatal Inversion and King Solomon's Carpet which both won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Award. Ruth Rendell sits in the House of Lords as a Labour peer. She lives in Maida Vale, London.

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Asta's Book 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
BookCore More than 1 year ago
You could say that I would HAVE to like this book. It's Ruth Rendell. It takes place in the UK. It starts in the Edwardian period, a historical setting I just love. And many of the characters are from Denmark. (I had a Swedish great-grandmother, so Scandinavian countries interest me.) 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 her diary, she admits that she didn't want to have so many kids, and her husband wasn't her choice. Asta is smart and thinks for herself. She isn't always a nice person - she plays a cruel trick on the child who is supposedly her favorite. But other than that, I like her. I also like the narrator, Ann; and kudos to Rendell for having a character in her late 40s/early 50s who has a serious romance leading to a first marriage. The story also has 2 female friends who have a falling out over a man, then later reconcile - having figured out that they like each other better than either one of them liked him. All in all, very good story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The reader is drawn ever more deeply into an obcession to find the genesis of Swanny. Threaded through the quest is a decades old murder case. Top notch writing. Germaine