The Chimney Sweeper's Boy [NOOK Book]


A daughter setting out to write a biography of her author father uncovers deadly secrets in his past
After celebrated author Gerald Candless dies of a heart attack, his daughter Sarah sets out to write his life story. But Sarah soon learns that although Gerald passionately loved his two daughters, he had a complicated and mysterious private life. The more she uncovers, the deeper Sarah’s fascination grows for a man who was always present in her life but was never what he seemed....

See more details below
The Chimney Sweeper's Boy

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$7.49 price
(Save 6%)$7.99 List Price


A daughter setting out to write a biography of her author father uncovers deadly secrets in his past
After celebrated author Gerald Candless dies of a heart attack, his daughter Sarah sets out to write his life story. But Sarah soon learns that although Gerald passionately loved his two daughters, he had a complicated and mysterious private life. The more she uncovers, the deeper Sarah’s fascination grows for a man who was always present in her life but was never what he seemed. If Sarah can get to the bottom of her father’s past, she stands a chance of healing her family and saving her own divided soul. An ingeniously plotted mystery, The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy tells of the secrets we keep hidden even from those we love.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781453214985
  • Publisher: Open Road Media
  • Publication date: 2/22/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 303,826
  • File size: 481 KB

Meet the Author

Ruth Rendell

Edgar Award–winning author Ruth Rendell (b. 1930) has written more than seventy books that have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (London), she is the recipient of the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Crime Writers’ Association. Rendell’s award-winning novels include A Demon in My View (1976), A Dark-Adapted Eye (1987), and King Solomon’s Carpet (1991). Her popular crime stories featuring Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford were adapted into a long-running British television series (1987–2000) starring George Baker.

Edgar Award–winning author Ruth Rendell (b. 1930) has written more than seventy books and sold more than twenty million copies worldwide. A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (London), she is the recipient of the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Crime Writers’ Association. Rendell’s award-winning novels include A Demon in My View (1976), A Dark-Adapted Eye (1987), and King Solomon’s Carpet (1991). Her popular crime stories featuring Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford were adapted into a long-running British television series (1987–2000) starring George Baker.


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."

Read More Show Less
    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

Read an Excerpt

The Chimney Sweeper's Boy

By Ruth Rendell


Copyright © 1998 Kingsmarkham Enterprises, Ltd.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-1498-5


It is an error to say the eyes have expression. Eyebrows and eyelids, lips, the planes of the face, all these are indicators of emotion. The eyes are merely colored liquid in a glass.


"NOT A WORD to my girls," he had said on the way home from the hospital. My girls, as if they weren't also hers. She was used to it, he always said that, and in a way they were more his. "I'm not hearing this," she said.

"You're going to have major surgery and your grown-up children aren't to be told."

"'Major surgery,'" he said. "You sound like Staff Nurse Samantha in a hospital sitcom. I won't have Sarah and Hope worried. I won't give them a day of hell while they await the result."

You flatter yourself, she thought, but that was just spite. He didn't. They would have a day of hell; they would have anguish, while she had a little mild trepidation.

He made her promise. It wasn't difficult. She wouldn't have cared for the task of telling them.

The girls came down as usual. In the summer they came down every weekend, and in the winter, too, unless the roads were impassable. They had forgotten the Romneys were coming to lunch, and Hope made a face, what her father called "a square mouth," a snarl, pushing her head forward and curling back her lips.

"Be thankful it's only lunch," said Gerald. "When I first met the guy, I asked him for the weekend."

"He refused?" Sarah said it as if she were talking of someone turning down a free round-the-world cruise.

"No, he didn't refuse. I wrote to him, asked him for lunch, and said he could stay at the hotel."

Everyone laughed except Ursula.

"He's got a wife he's bringing."

"Oh God, Daddy, is there more? He hasn't got kids, has he?"

"If he has, they're not invited." Gerald smiled sweetly at his daughters. He said thoughtfully, "We might play the Game."

"With them? Oh, do let's," said Hope. "We haven't played the Game for ages."

Titus and Julia Romney were much honored by an invitation from Gerald Candless, and if they had expected to be put up in the house and not have to pay for a room at the Dunes, they hadn't said so, not even to each other. Julia had anticipated eccentricity from someone so distinguished, even rudeness, and she was pleasantly surprised to encounter a genial host, a gracious, if rather silent, hostess, and two good-looking young women who turned out to be the daughters.

Titus, who had his naive side, as she well knew, was hoping for a look at the room where the work was done. And perhaps a present. Not a first edition, that would be expecting too much, but any book signed by the author. Conversation on literary matters, how he wrote, when he wrote, and even, now the daughters had appeared, what it was like to be his child.

It was a hot, sunny day in July, a few days before the start of the high season at the hotel, or they wouldn't have gotten a room. Lunch was in a darkish, cool dining room with no view of the sea. Far from discussing books, the Candlesses talked about the weather, summer visitors, the beach, and Miss Batty, who was coming to clear the table and wash up. Gerald said Miss Batty wasn't much of a cleaner but that they kept her because her name made him laugh. There was another Miss Batty and a Mrs. Batty, and they all lived together in a cottage in Croyde. "Sounds like a new card game, Unhappy Families," he said, and then he laughed and the daughters laughed.

In the drawing room—so he called it—the French windows were open onto the garden, the pink and blue hydrangea, the cliff edge, the long bow-shaped beach and the sea. Julia asked what the island was and Sarah said Lundy, but she said it in such a way as to imply only a total ignoramus would ask. Coffee was brought by someone who must have been Miss Batty and drinks were poured by Hope. Gerald and Titus drank port, Julia had a refill of the Meursault, and Sarah and Hope both had brandy. Sarah's brandy was neat, but Hope's had ice in it.

Then Gerald made the sort of announcement Julia hated, really hated. She didn't think people actually did this anymore, not in this day and age, not grown-ups. Not intellectuals.

"And now we'll play the Game," Gerald had said. "Let's see how clever you are."

"Would it be wonderful to find someone who caught on at once, Daddy?" said Hope. "Or would we hate it?"

"We'd hate it," said Sarah, and she planted on Gerald's cheek one of those kisses that the Romneys found mildly embarrassing to witness.

He caught at her hand briefly. "It never happens, though, does it?"

Julia met Ursula's eye and must have put inquiry into her glance. Or simple fear.

"Oh, I shan't play," Ursula said. "I shall go out for my walk."

"In this heat?"

"I like it. I always walk along the beach in the afternoons."

Titus, who also disliked parlor games, asked what this one was called. "Not this Unhappy Families you were talking about?"

"It's called I Pass the Scissors," said Sarah.

"What do we have to do?"

"You have to do it right. That's all."

"You mean we all have to do something and there's a right way and a wrong way of doing it?"

She nodded.

"How will we know?"

"We'll tell you."

The scissors were produced by Hope from a drawer in the tallboy. Once kitchen scissors had been used for the Game, or Ursula's sewing scissors or nail scissors, whatever came to hand. But the Game and the ascendancy it gave them afforded so much pleasure that, while his daughters still lived at home, Gerald had bought a pair of Victorian scissors with handles like a silver bird in flight and sharp pointed blades. It was these that Hope now handed to her father for him to begin.

Leaning forward in his armchair, his feet planted far apart, his back to the light, Gerald opened the scissors so that they formed a cross. He smiled. He was a big man, with a head journalists called "leonine," though the lion was old now, with a grizzled, curly mane the color of iron filings. His hands were big and his fingers very long. He handed the scissors to Julia Romney and said, "I pass the scissors uncrossed."

Julia passed the scissors to Hope as she had received them. "I pass the scissors uncrossed."

"No, you don't." Hope closed the scissors, turned them over, and put them into the outstretched fingers of Titus Romney. "I pass the scissors crossed." Titus did the same and handed them to Sarah, saying with a glance at Gerald that he passed the scissors crossed.

"Wrong." Sarah opened the scissors, held them by one blade, and passed them to her father. "I pass the scissors crossed, Dad."

He closed them, turned them over twice clockwise, and passed them to Julia. "I pass the scissors uncrossed."

Dawning comprehension, or what she thought was dawning comprehension, broke on Julia's face. She sat upright and turned the scissors over twice counterclockwise, handed them to Hope, and said she passed the scissors crossed.

"Well, well," said Hope. "But do you know why?" Julia didn't. She had guessed. "But they're crossed when they're closed, aren't they?"

"Are they? You have to pass them crossed and know why, and everyone has to see. Look, when you know, it's as clear as glass. I promise you." Hope opened the scissors. "I pass the scissors crossed."

So they continued for half an hour. Titus Romney asked if anyone ever got it, and Gerald said yes, of course, it was just that no one ever got it at once. Jonathan Arthur had gotten it the second time. Impressed by the name of the winner of both the John Llewellyn Rhys and the Somerset Maugham prizes, Titus said he was really going to concentrate from now on. Sarah said she wanted another brandy and what about everyone else.

"Another port, Dad?"

"I don't think so, darling. It gives me a headache. But you can give Titus one.

Sarah replenished the drinks, then sat down again, this time on the arm of her father's chair. "I pass the scissors uncrossed."

"But why?" Julia Romney was beginning to sound irritated. She had gone rather red. Signs of participants beginning to lose their tempers always amused the Candlesses, who now looked gleeful and expectant. "I mean, how can it be? The scissors are just the same as when you passed them crossed just now."

"I told you it was unlikely you'd get it the first time," said Hope, and she yawned. "I pass the scissors crossed."

"You always pass them crossed!"

"Do I? Right, I'll pass them uncrossed next time."

As Titus was receiving the scissors, opening them and turning them clockwise, Ursula came in through the French windows. Her hair, which was fair but graying, and very long and wispy, had begun flopping down out of its pins and she was holding it up with one hand. She smiled, and Titus thought she was going to say, "Still at it?" or "Have you found the secret yet?" but she said nothing, only passing on across the room and through the door that led into the hall.

Gerald looked around and said, "Shall we call it a day?"

The way the girls laughed, Sarah leaning over to look into her father's eyes, told Titus this must be the phrase, rather dramatically delivered, he always used to terminate a session of the Game. Probably the injunction that followed was also requisite at this point.

"Better luck next time."

Gerald rose to his feet. Titus had the impression, founded on nothing that he was truly aware of, that the old man (the "Grand Old Man," he almost was) had been disturbed by the return of his wife, deflected from his pleasure in the Game, and was displeased. His face, though not as gray as his hair, had lost its color and grown dull. The daughter, Sarah, the one who looked like her mother, saw it, too. She glanced at her sister, the one who looked like her father, and said, "Are you all right, Dad?"

"Of course I am." He made a face at his glass but smiled at her. "I don't like port, never have. I should have had brandy."

"I'll get you a brandy," said Hope.

"Better not." He did something Titus had never before seen a grown man do to a grown woman: He put out his hand and stroked her hair. "We stumped them again, my sweethearts. We boggled them."

"We always do."

"And now"—he turned to Titus—"before you go"—a bright gleam in his dark eye—"you said you wanted to see where I work."

The study. Did he call it that? The room, anyway, where the books had been written, or most of them. It was stuffy in there and warm. You could see the sea from here, too, and more of the long, flat half-mile-wide beach, the water's edge almost invisible in the distance. Sky and sea met in a blurred dazzle. The closed window was large, stark, with black blinds rolled up, and the sun poured in. It flooded the desk and his chair and the books behind him and the book in front. Gerald Candless used a typewriter, not a word processor, quite an old-fashioned one, and had a bunch of pens and pencils in an onyx jar.

Proofs of a new novel lay to the left of the typewriter. A stack of manuscript about an inch deep sat to its right. Several thousand books filled the shelves ceiling to floor, dictionaries and thesauruses and encyclopedias and other reference works, and poetry and biography and novels, hundreds of novels, including Gerald Candless's own works. The sun bathed their leather and cloth and colored-paper spines in brilliant light.

"Do you feel all right?"

Titus had echoed Sarah's words, because the grayness was back in Gerald's face and his big gnarled right hand was gripping the upper part of his left arm. He made no answer to the question. Titus thought he was probably the sort of man who never said anything unless he had something to say, made no small talk, answered no polite questions as to his health.

"Are you really called Titus?"

The abrupt inquiry disconcerted him. "What?"

"I didn't know you were deaf. I said, Are you really called Titus?"

"Of course I am."

"I thought it must be a pseudonym. Don't look so peevish. Not all of us are really called what we're called, you know, not by a long chalk. Now take a look around. Look your fill. Have a book. Help yourself, and I'll sign it. Not a first edition—I draw the line at that."

One of the things Titus looked for was a copy of his own book. It wasn't there, or if it was, he couldn't see it. He stood in front of the row of Gerald Candlesses, wondering which one to pick, then finally chose Hamadryad.

"Read Finnish, do you?"

Titus saw that he had chosen from the section of translations, so he made a second attempt, but was forestalled by being handed a book club edition of the same novel.

Gerald signed it. Just his name, no good wishes or kind regards. Sunlight fell on his hands, which, if they didn't tremble, weren't quite steady.

"And now that you've had your lunch, seen my room, and gotten a book, you can do something for me. One good turn—or rather, three good turns—deserves another, wouldn't you agree?"

Assent was expected. Titus nodded. "Anything, of course, if it's in my power."

"Oh, it's in your power. It would be in anybody's who happened to be here. You see that stuff?"

"The page proofs?"

"No, not the page proofs. The manuscript. I want you to take it with you. Just take it away. Will you do that for me?"

"What is it?"

Gerald Candless didn't answer. "I'm going away for a few days. I don't want it left here in the house while I'm away. But I don't want to destroy it, either. I may publish it one day—I mean, I may finish it and publish it. If I have the nerve."

"What is it, your autobiography?"

The sarcastic reply came: "Of course. I haven't even changed the names." Then he said, "It's a novel, the start of a novel, or the end—I don't know which. But he is not he and she is not she and they are not they. Right? I don't want it left here. You were coming, I'd met you in wherever it was ..."


"Right. You were coming, and it came to me that you'd do. Who else is there down here?"

"I wonder you didn't put it in a safe-deposit box somewhere."

"Oh, you wonder that, do you? If you don't want to take it and look after it for me, just say. I'll give it to Miss Batty, or I'll burn it. Come to think of it, burning might be best."

"For God's sake, don't burn it," said Titus. "I'll take it. How do I get it back to you? And when do I?"

Gerald picked up the pages and held them in his hands. Underneath them, on the desk, was a padded bag already addressed to Gerald Candless, Lundy View House, Gaunton, North Devon, and stamped with £1.50 postage.

"Do you ... Do you want me to ... Do you mind if I read it?"

A gale of laughter greeted that, a strong, vigorous bellow, incompatible with those tremulous hands. "You'll have a job. I'm the world's lousiest typist. Here, you can put it in this."

"This" was a cheap-looking plastic briefcase, the kind of thing that, containing the requisite brochures and agenda, is given to delegates at a conference. Titus Romney wouldn't have been seen dead with it normally. But he had only a short distance to carry it to the hotel. They found Julia in the drawing room, carrying on a stilted conversation with Gerald's wife. Titus had already forgotten her name, but he didn't have to remember it, because they were going. It was 3:30 and they were leaving. The daughters had disappeared.

"I'll walk with you to the hotel," Gerald said. "I'm supposed to walk a bit every day. A few yards."

Julia gushed, the way she did when she had had a horrid time. "Goodbye. Thank you so much. It's been lovely. A lovely lunch."

"Enjoy the rest of your stay," Gerald's wife said.

They set off across the garden, Titus carrying the briefcase, at which Julia cast curious glances. The garden extended to about ten yards from the cliff edge, where there was a gate to the cliff path. From this path, all the beach could be seen, and the car park, full of cars and trailers. The beach was crowded and there were a lot of people in the sea. Somewhere Julia had read this described as the finest beach on the English coast, the longest, seven miles of it, with the best sand. The safest beach, for the tide went out half a mile and flowed in gently over the flat, scarcely sloping sand, a shallow, limpid sea. It was blue as a jewel, calm, waveless. "You must love living here," Julia said politely.

He didn't answer. Titus asked him if he didn't like walking. The way he talked about it implied he didn't like it.

"I don't like any physical exercise. Only cranks like walking. That's why a sensible man invented the car."

A gate in the path bore a sign: THE DUNES HOTEL, STRICTLY PRIVATE, HOTEL GUESTS ONLY. Gerald opened it, then stood aside to let Julia pass through. The hotel, Edwardian red brick with white facings, multigabled, stood up above them, its striped awnings unfurled across the terrace. People sat at tables having tea. Children splashed about in a swimming pool that was barely concealed by privet hedges.

"Your children enjoying themselves?"

"We haven't any children," said Julia. "Really? Why not?"

"I don't know." She was very taken aback. That should be a question people didn't ask. "I … I don't necessarily want any."


Excerpted from The Chimney Sweeper's Boy by Ruth Rendell. Copyright © 1998 Kingsmarkham Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)