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The Child's Child [Hardcover]

Ruth Rendell , Barbara Vine
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)

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Hardcover, 4 Dec 2012 --  
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Book Description

4 Dec 2012

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.

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

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

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.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner Book Company (4 Dec 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145169489X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451694895
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 16.2 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,311,686 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

This is the fourteenth novel by Barbara Vine, the pen-name of bestselling crime writer Ruth Rendell. Her books include: THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT, FATAL INVERSION, KING SOLOMON'S CARPET, A DARK-ADAPTED EYE and THE BRIMSTONE WEDDING. Ruth Rendell sits in the House of Lords as a Labour peer, and lives in Essex and in Maida Vale, London. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 23 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars First book of hers that I didn't like 23 May 2013
I can't believe (and am disappointed) I'm scoring this a 2 as I'm a big Barabara Vine/Ruth Rendell fan but I didn't like this book at all. When I finished it my feeling was what was the point of it? None of the characters are appealing so you don't care what happens to them - and they all end up miserable. The novel within a novel didn't work - the middle one on its own could have been developed into a much stronger book. The ending is abrupt and not credible.

What it does achieve though is to bring to the fore how much attitudes to illegitimatcy and homosexuality have advanced over the decades - and how much needless anguish and pain those old attitudes caused to so many people.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the wait? 16 Mar 2013
It's been five years since the last Barbara Vine novel; I had begun to think Ruth Rendell had abandoned her alter ego but at last we have The Child's Child, her fourteenth Vine book. After such a long gap, I wondered if this new title would live up to the high standards of so many previous Vine novels.

My initial impressions were not all that favourable; I must agree with another reviewer that the part of the story set in 2011 is pretty weak. I understand that the point is to compare the change in attitudes between illegitimacy and homosexuality since the 1930s - the former has lost it's stigma altogether while the latter still has a way to go - but I still think the book would have been better set entirely in 1929, or using some other framing device. The 2011 characters are not convincing, especially James, and are often little more than mouthpieces for some rather stale arguments about sexuality.

Thankfully, as soon as the focus switches to 1929, it improves immeasurably and becomes a proper Barbara Vine novel - and fortunately this section is 200 pages, making up the majority of the book. This is Vine back on form, and my only regret is she didn't make this section a little longer and abandon the 2011 part altogether.

So was it worth the wait? Yes, I think so - but be prepared to slog through the first 60 pages or so to get to the real story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed 19 May 2014
A novel that compares the attitudes towards single parents and gay people in the present day to those of the 1930s. The structure of the book doesn't really work, with the modern section sandwiching the 1930s story, but not developed enough to allow any affinity with the three characters, the ending seems especially rushed.

The 1930s story, which forms the majority of the novel, is much stronger, focusing on the problems of Maud, a single mother and her gay brother John who are masquerading as a married couple. This theme does not sustain the 200 odd pages and about 80 pages of that introduces a murder, a brief investigation, the backdrop of the Battle of Britain, an assortment of minor characters that we don't care about and a synopsis of Maud's daughters story line.

I usually enjoy Barbara Vine /Ruth Rendell novels, but this one was a bit of a slog. Instead, i would recommend "The Keys to the Street", "Portobello" or "A Sight for Sore Eyes".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Rattling Good Yarn 30 May 2014
I really enjoyed this, especially the story of Maud and John (set in the late 1920s onwards) Maud's gradual transformation from young hard done by 15 year old girl to a virtual reclusive embittered, graceless woman was excellently conveyed; in fact she appears to end up being as cold and judgemental as the parents she despised for their attitude and conduct to Maud herself at 15 when newly pregnant; although my sympathies were fully for Maud at the beginning I found her brother John a far nicer and sympathetic character; the present day story didn't interest me as much although I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it highly as something different from the usual 'scary' Barbara Vine. Nothing too scary at all!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 18 days ago by Jacqueline
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful plotat read Great book
Greertly written, wonderful plotat read

Great book, fantastic read and page turner.Plot was amazing and one of Ms Vine's best. Read more
Published 18 days ago by Mrs phoebe a coleman
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Barbara Vine
A classic Barbara Vine - parallel stories, sublime characterisation and a gripping and utterly original plot. Unputdownable.
Published 23 days ago by Kim
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, but not up to previous caliber
Being an avid Barbara Vine reader, I am always excited to read a new story. As expected, this novel delivered a story well-told and with the familiar tension and mystery. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Izzy C
5.0 out of 5 stars Vine at her best
this was simply Barbara Vine at her best, describing people and their relationships and how they develop and can turn from rather nice person into a rather not nice. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sigrun Huld Thorgrimsdottir
4.0 out of 5 stars very good
i thought i had read all of Rugh Rendall/Barbara Vine but i had overlooked this one - a very satisfying read
Published 2 months ago by ea cairney
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Sadly I only read a few chapters of this before I gave up. Sorry but I just found this one too slow and boring.
Published 2 months ago by Sharon
3.0 out of 5 stars Usually a fan
I usually enjoy Barbara Vine books but I am sorry to say that I found this one a touch slow moving and sometimes predictable.
Published 2 months ago by anon 337
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping from first to last
This book is the usual high standard of writing anyone who has been a fan of Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine is used to. Read more
Published 2 months ago by scruffyrabbit
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to Barbara Vine's usual standard
The central theme of this novel is the contrast of attitudes to births "out of wedlock" at different periods. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Christopher J. Napier
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