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The House of Stairs [Kindle Edition]

Barbara Vine
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: £6.02 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Book Description

The House of Stairs - an unputdownable crime classic from bestselling author Barbara Vine

Lizzie hasn't seen her old friend, Bell, for some fourteen years, but when she spots her from a taxi in a London street she jumps out and pursues her despite 'all the terrible things' that passed between them. As Lizzie reveals those events, little by little, the women rekindle their friendship, with terrifying results ...

'This is the third psychological thriller by Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine and when I say it surpasses the first two that's really saying something ... Vine has not only produced a quietly smouldering suspense novel but also presents an accurately atmospheric portrayal of London in the heady 60's. Literally unputdownable' Time Out

The House of Stairs is a modern masterpiece of the crime genre and will leave you gripped from the first page to the last. If you enjoy the novels of P.D. James, Ian Rankin and Scott Turow, you will love this book.

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

'A superb and original writer' Amanda Craig, Express

Barbara Vine is the pen-name of Ruth Rendell. She has written fifteen novels using this pseudonym, including A Fatal Inversion and King Solomon's Carpet which both won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Award. Her other books include: A Dark Adapted Eye; The House of Stairs; Gallowglass; Asta's Book; No Night Is Too Long; In the Time of His Prosperity; The Brimstone Wedding; The Chimney Sweeper's Boy; Grasshopper; The Blood Doctor; The Minotaur; The Birthday Present and The Child's Child.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 449 KB
  • Print Length: 283 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0140114467
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (31 Oct. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DZA0D1I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #32,399 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the kind of story that really draws you in. 3 Jan. 2004
By S. Hapgood VINE VOICE
What I like about Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell is that she has revolutionised modern mystery writing. She takes her time with her plots and her characters, and as a consequence is able to weave a complicated web that is rich in texture. "The House of Stairs" largely concerns a middle-aged lady called Cozette, who has lived her life in a state of middle-class respectability. When her husband dies though she decides to throw caution to the wind and have some of the fun she should have had when she was young. She rents a house in London, the House of Stairs of the title, and fills it with offbeat people to put the colour into her life that she craves. Naturally not all of them have her best interests at heart. Not only is this a first-rate psychological puzzle in the best Vine tradition, but it gives an evocative insight into the world of Swinging Sixties London. I read somebody describing Vine as a modern-day Wilkie Collins, and I can't argue with that. Away from the mysteries though she also makes me think in other ways too, such as when she mentions that the best sunsets are often to be found in cities. Strangely, that's true!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to remember it's fiction... 28 July 2004
I love Vine's books, but whilst I am reading one,I do nothing else. A friend first recommended The House of Stairs and I virtually didn't speak again for three days when I finally finished it. The descriptions are so evocative and detailed, it is almost impossible not to think that the house in Archanagel Place is real. The plot revolves largely round the pampered, but generous,Cosette, a middle aged widow seeking her lost youth. A tender love story unfolds, and the descriptions of the London social scene and the bright young things that populated it in the sixties, make you feel as if you are in the room. The whole story is narrated by Cosette's friend, Elizabeth, who is like a surrogate daughter to her, and whose own secret colours the way she looks at life. So far so good, but throw into this mix the lawless and beautiful Bell, who we know from the start is a murderess and your heart is in your mouth throughout the book. You know someone dies, but who is it? and how? and when? By the time you get attached to a character you think "is it going to be them?" "is she going to do it now?" and the whole book becomes a breathtaking triumph in suspense, atmosphere, tragedy, and love. Buy it, you won't forget it.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creepy 20 Feb. 2003
By A Customer
One of the reasons that I prefer Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine (rather than under her own name) is that there is always an underlying 'creepiness' in all Barbara Vine's books, rather than out-and-out murder. The House of Stairs is no exception. The story portrays raw evil in the form of the grey, steely, 'Belle', a woman able to fool both the unsuspecting Elizabeth, and also the sweet, innocent, kind-hearted Cozette. The author builds up the suspense in this story until I found that I was unable to put the book down, actually feeling compelled to read on until the truth about Belle was finally revealed. This story is one of love and betrayal, friendship and deceit;, four factors that work independently to change forever the lives of all involved. Brilliant!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Vine's best 7 Oct. 2000
By A Customer
I think Barbara Vine is one of the greatest novelists working today-- never mind her lofty status as a mystery writer. "The House of Stairs" is,like her other books, tremendously but unobtrusively literary. The plot involves an ingenious twist on Henry James's "The Wings of the Dove." But "The House of Stairs" is much more than an adaptation of James; it's a very modern thriller with an extremely original cast of characters-- definitely one of Vine's most interesting works.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "You can't judge a sausage by it's overcoat." 26 Mar. 2013
By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Barbara Vine always sets her novels up very carefully, revealing just so much and no further in order to keep her readers poised on the verge of discovery. Though she sometimes lingers too long on this setting up, she is grand mistress of her genre. Where some might rush through this essential part of the novel, she takes her time. In one sense she has to do this because there are a characters that will move in and out of the action, providing a complex narrative, each with a part to play.

It is the sixties and a house where the host, Cosette, allows a great deal of freedom to her guests who come and go as they like. Elizabeth is the narrator through whom we are given access to much that happens. But then Elizabeth doesn't know everything, and some things she thinks she knows are distinctly wrong. Most of the details relating to what happens in this sixties novel are spot on. The candles which became de rigueur at a sixties party, the spliff smoked in the garden, passed round on a pin. Occasionally one wonders how well things might really have gone with such a mixture of ages in a house, but Cosette's largess rings true, especially after she finds love with a much younger man. Bell, who everyone thinks is his sister (Bell's lies haunt the novel's development) is not who she says she is, and slowly the backstory unravels, bringing a chilling end for one person, and the ruin of betrayal for another.

This is a chilling story altogether, another of Ruth Rendell's alter ego's profound successes.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A compelling read with enduring characters, especially Cosette and Bell. The author keeps you guessing right until the end.
Published 2 months ago by Malyn
4.0 out of 5 stars Captivating story which is beautifully written.
Great story which encompasses two stories in one and addresses the different attitudes to homosexuality previously and now. Read more
Published 2 months ago by maeve kennedy
3.0 out of 5 stars Obviously...
I found the style of writing very pedestrian. Normally I enjoy the twists and turns of the Barbara Vine books but, I am sorry to say, this did not live up to my expectations. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Shirley Thomas
4.0 out of 5 stars A creative masterclass
The long slow revealing of plot is extremely suspenseful and mysterious but underpinned by clarity most of the time. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. P. Carter
4.0 out of 5 stars Barbara Vine slowly, surely, effortlessly turning up the tension knob
"I seemed to see Bell as she was almost the first time I ever saw her, walking into the hall at Thornham to tell us that her husband had shot himself"

From the first... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Lady Fancifull
4.0 out of 5 stars Barbara Vine at her best - on a par with Ruth Rendell
When Ruth Rendell writes as Barbara Vine her aim is to be more "literary" than she is when she writes under her own name. Read more
Published 7 months ago by C. E. Utley
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful. Excellent seller
Wonderful. Excellent seller.
Published 8 months ago by Lois Neal
5.0 out of 5 stars House of Stairs
I enjoyed this book as I do all of Barbara Vines that I have read. It kept me gripped until the end.
Published 8 months ago by Pauline Westbury
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Ok - but it's the usual Rendell/Vine - a depressive and hopeless loner - fed up with this nnow
Published 10 months ago by Bella
5.0 out of 5 stars Back on form.
Back on form. Well crafted and with plenty of her trove of arcane words and facts
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
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