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The Child's Child [Hardcover]

Barbara Vine
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
RRP: £18.99
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Book Description

7 Mar 2013

The Child's Child is the new crime novel by bestselling, prize-winning author Barbara Vine

What sort of betrayal would drive a brother and sister apart?

When Grace and her brother Andrew inherit their grandmother's house in Hampstead, they decide to move in together. It seems the obvious thing to do: they've always got on well, the house is large enough to split down the middle, and neither of them likes partying or loud music. There's one thing they've forgotten though: what if one of them wants to bring a lover into the house? When Andrew's partner James moves in, it alters the balance - with almost fatal consequences.

Barbara Vine's is the pen-name of Ruth Rendell, and The Child's Child is the first book she has published under that name since The Birthday Present in 2008. It's an intriguing examination of betrayal in families, and of those two once-unmentionable subjects, illegitimacy and homosexuality.

A taut, thrilling read, it will be enjoyed by readers of P.D. James and Ian Rankin.

'The Rendell/Vine partnership has for years been producing consistently better work than most Booker winners put together' Ian Rankin

'She deploys her peerless skills in blending the mundane, commonplace aspects of life with the murky impulses of desire and greed.

Ruth rendall has published fourteen novels under the Vine name, two of which, Fatal Inversion and King Solomon's Carpet, won the prestigious Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Award. Also available in Penguin by Barbara Vine: The Minotaur, The Blood Doctor, Grasshopper, The Chimney Sweeper's Boy, The Brimstone Wedding, No Night is Too Long, Asta's Book, King Solomon's Carpet, Gallowglass, The House of Stairs, A Dark-Adapted Eye.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (7 Mar 2013)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 067092220X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670922208
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.6 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 132,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ruth Rendell has won many awards, including the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for 1976's best crime novel with A Demon in My View; a second Edgar in 1984 from the Mystery Writers of America for the best short story, 'The New Girl Friend'; and a Gold Dagger award for Live Flesh in 1986. She was also the winner of the 1990 Sunday Times Literary award, as well as the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer.

Product Description


Probably the greatest living crime writer in the world (Ian Rankin)

Cracking stuff. The Vine continues to flourish . . . (A) miracle of storytelling with her customary aplomb and cool composure (Express on THE CHILD's CHILD)

Vine is not afraid to walk down the mean streets of the mind and can build up an almost tangible atmosphere of menace and unease (Daily Telegraph) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Barbara Vine is the pen-name of bestselling crime writer Ruth Rendell. This is the fourteenth novel written under the Vine name. Ruth Rendell sits in the House of Lords as a Labour peer, and lives in Essex and in Maida Vale, London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite vigorously entangling Vine 24 Mar 2014
By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
I far prefer Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine, where she explores dark psychology and even pathopsychology, often without the aid of detective exploration.

Personally, I use a couple of her own books, Asta's Book, and The Chimney Sweeper's Boy, to measure her other writing by.

Unfortunately, whilst the Child's Child interested, it didn't insidiously strangle and confine my attention onto itself like those two did.

This is a double time line book, with the central part, an unpublished fictional book, based on a `real' (fictional real) case, from the late 1920s, bookended by the reader of that book in 2011.

The central `real' which the unpublished book called `The Child's Child' is based on, concerns a homosexual couple, back in the time when homosexuality was illegal, and a young middle class girl who becomes pregnant (unmarried) at a time when abortion was illegal, dangerous, and to be pregnant, unwed, a dreadful slur and disaster, blackening the entire family of the unmarried pregnant girl or woman, with shame and social ostracism. The young girl is the sister of one of the men. This central book explores hiding secrets deemed too shameful to be known, violence and betrayal.

The wrap-around involves a gay couple of the present day, and the sister of one of the men. Although homosexuality is legalised, violent anti-gay prejudice still exists, and to be gay can still feel differently dangerous. The present setting also deals with violence, living a lie, and betrayal, albeit the change in social mores presents very different choices.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In The Child’s Child we meet siblings, Grace and Andrew who have inherited their grandmother Verity’s large London house. Deciding they want to keep it they decide to live there together, but, as the blurb reveals, they hadn’t considered what would happen when one of them moves their partner in, particularly if they didn’t get on. Tensions are soon revealed and the reader is party to the amount of introspection that Grace struggles with when she should be writing her dissertation.

Grace is exploring the lives of unmarried mothers in literature when she picks up what for me is the best part of this story, a book written but not published, which follows the life of Maud, an unmarried mother. Digging deep into family life starting in 1929 this is a great examination of how disgrace was dealt with at that time. Vine has a knack of making everything believable, I knew Maud, I may not have liked her but I could see how her character, her views and her circumstances lead her to become the woman she was at the end of her story. Although a little jumpy, you do suddenly realise the story-line has moved on a few years, this part of the book gave me a fascinating look into the mores of the times; this was the part of the book that resonated, Grace and Andrew’s story appearing a little forced for my tastes but providing a mirror of siblings living eighty years apart.

After waiting years for another Vine book, I opened the page and felt soothed by the instantly recognisable style, these books are great for nosey people, those who want to know what goes on behind closed doors and Vine writes in a way that allows the reader to do this. There is often character introspection, plotting and picking over events so that you really understand their thought processes, their hopes and their fears.

This is a slow-paced thoughtful book but not one that I would recommend to readers who haven't read some of Vine's earlier work.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love and Prejudice 3.5 Stars 4 Feb 2013
Writing as Barbara Vine, Ruth Rendell's 'A Child's Child' begins in 2011 where we meet Grace, a university lecturer working on her PhD thesis on illegitimacy in English fiction, who is living with her gay brother, Andrew, in a large, book-filled house in Hampstead, which they have inherited from their grandmother. Andrew and Grace live together quite happily until Andrew falls in love with a writer, James, and asks him to move in. Unfortunately, Grace and James do not really get along with each other, especially after they have a heated disagreement about the treatment of gay men compared to that of single mothers; however, when James is shocked and upset at the murder of a gay friend outside a Soho nightclub, and goes to Grace for comfort, they find themselves in a situation which surprises both of them considerably. Whilst Grace tries to concentrate less on James and Andrew and to focus instead on her PhD, she begins to read 'The Child's Child' an unpublished manuscript written in 1951, given to her by a friend and based on a true story about a young, unmarried mother and her gay brother, whose story, Grace realises, has some uncomfortable parallels with her own situation.

The story then moves to 1929 where, in a novel within a novel format, we learn about brother and sister, Maud and John Goodwin, and their unusual life together. When Maud is fifteen she becomes pregnant, and when her shocked parents plan to send her away, John offers to take Maud to live with him, ostensibly as his wife, so that she can keep her child.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Could have been better
As an avid reader of BV, I was excited about starting this book. It reminded me a little of "No Night is Too Long" and "The Chimney Sweeper's Boy" - and, to be... Read more
Published 26 days ago by Alison Hart
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I enjoyed this book very much,but then I always love Barbara Vine
Published 1 month ago by pam webb
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
Good but not her best
Published 1 month ago by philippa cuttell
4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful story of the power of prejudice and persecution.
This book was recommended to me for its treatment of the persecution of gay men in the 1930s and that aspect certainly resonated with me as a gay man who grew up in the 50s. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Steve
3.0 out of 5 stars Very week ending
I am usually riveted by Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell novels, and this one has disappointed me a bit.

The 'John and Maud' story was the better part, in my opinion - the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Brummom
3.0 out of 5 stars The Child's Child
Oh dear, being a fan of all of Vine's other psychological thrillers I really wanted to enjoy this book but it fell far short of expectations. Read more
Published 1 month ago by SilentSinger
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good read good value
Published 2 months ago by colin fitzjohn
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic
absolutely brilliant, fantastic story, very moving
Published 2 months ago by Pat F.
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A great read for fans
Published 2 months ago by Charlotte
2.0 out of 5 stars Little details like that and several others further weaken an already...
Although it was a pleasure to read a well written book, the story itself was hugely disappointing. After a few pages of the modern day tale, most of the book is taken up with what... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jacqueline
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