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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprised
I purchased this book (via Amazon) about three months ago having vowed to complete my devouring of all Ms Rendell's oeuvres. I was put off from starting it a)by the sheer number of pages and b)by the negative reviews on the Amazon site. In desperation I started it, having now exhausted all other Rendell titles.

After two days I am on page 300 and dread the day...
Published on 26 Jun. 2009 by R. Scrivener

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Less than vintage Vine
I am generally a fan of Barbara Vine's work, so I was delighted to find that Grasshopper was rather longer than her books usually are. This was my first mistake, as bigger does not necessarily mean better.

The plot appears at first sight to be classic Vine - a London flat inhabited by various oddball and misfit characters, some of them on the edge of or...
Published on 2 Mar. 2012 by CJ


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprised, 26 Jun. 2009
By 
R. Scrivener (colchester) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I purchased this book (via Amazon) about three months ago having vowed to complete my devouring of all Ms Rendell's oeuvres. I was put off from starting it a)by the sheer number of pages and b)by the negative reviews on the Amazon site. In desperation I started it, having now exhausted all other Rendell titles.

After two days I am on page 300 and dread the day when I finish it because there'll be nothing left.

It is totally absorbing (OK slightly cookey with climbing on roofs) but the point is that it burrows into the minds of its protaganists and lets us see where they're coming from and where eventually they might be going. At this stage I WANT to know where the characters are going - yes, I'm hooked! This surely is the basis for any good novel.

I might change my mind when I get to page 528, who knows, but in the meantime it's 5*.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Less than vintage Vine, 2 Mar. 2012
By 
CJ (Cheshire) - See all my reviews
I am generally a fan of Barbara Vine's work, so I was delighted to find that Grasshopper was rather longer than her books usually are. This was my first mistake, as bigger does not necessarily mean better.

The plot appears at first sight to be classic Vine - a London flat inhabited by various oddball and misfit characters, some of them on the edge of or actively engaged in criminality, some with dodgy pasts. Having assembled this motley crew, Vine then takes them out onto the roofs of London, intimating to us that there is something nasty in the offing. The forthcoming 'nasty' is hinted at again and again, until rather than raising tension, it simply has the effect of annoying an already bored reader. No reader of psychologial thrillers minds being toyed with, in a subtle, tension building way, but if done in a heavy handed way these constant intimations of 'something bad is just around the corner' merely irritate, while the narrator's coy refusal to tell us who she had eventually married was also a device about as subtle as a sledge hammer.

My second mistake was to stick with the book, on the assumption that the ending would be worth it. However like the entire book, the denouement relied on improbable coincidences and sloppy plotting.

What has happened to the genius who penned A Dark Adapted Eye?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Revisited After Ten Years, 29 Feb. 2012
I first read this book about ten years ago. Barbara Vine books can generally be read more than once, and between library visits, I took this one down from my shelves. I could not remember any real detail about it, so it was in some ways like reading it for the first time. The reviews here are on the whole negative, and one can fully see why: the irritating characters, no one ever has a job, the silly roof climbing, the lack of any real explanation for the characters actions.
Yet I still wanted to follow the story- despite the endless Vine habit of "But that was then. Later I found out....", despite the boringly dull, utterly tedious roof climbing- most of which I recommend skimming, it does not bear detailed reading-despite the many drawbacks, well signposted in reviews here, I found it interesting, and the ending, when at least I felt the irritating Clodah had grown up and become less stupid, was in its way moving.
As with Vine/Rendell, the descriptions of districts of London, and the various dwellings the characters inhabit were well drawn, and vivid. The motley and wholly unbelievable cast of young people did at least remind me of student days.
The book is far too long, (roof climbing could be cut by 70%) and the events all most unlikely.
But still worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Vine absolutely off form, 11 Aug. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Grasshopper (Hardcover)
How can it be that the aurhoress of such masterpieces as "A Dark-adapted Eye" or "A Fatal Inversion" has completely lost that initial power of storytelling? I'm a great admirer of Rendell's work but since "No Night Is Too Long" she hasn't published anything worth reading. Is it perhaps because she publishes too much? (Something which affects most of the mystery writers). If you are already a Rendell reader then reread her early work (especially the 2 novels mentioned above and also the masterful "The House of Stairs"). If you intend to read something by her 4 the first time buy her early novels. Believe me when I say that "A Dark-adapted Eye" and especially the character of Vera Hillyard stay in your mind for a long time.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good story. Good characterisations., 27 Oct. 2001
By 
John Maddock "Terry Maddock" (Blackpool, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This was my first Barbara Vine and I was worried before I started it to learn of the Ruth Rendell connection. I shouldn't have worried. The story, characters and descriptive narrative held me all the way through. I have read some of the other reviews and must disagree regarding one suggestion that the roof top situation was unreal. I speak from personal experience although to a more limited degree.
I must go back and try some Ruth Rendell. Maybe they were better than I thought.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Slower than an asthmatic ant with some heavy shopping, 7 Aug. 2001
By A Customer
What a joy it was, at the completion of this book, to read other reviews in Amazon and realise I was not alone in being baffled by this turgid tome. I almost cannot say why I finished it - I read 3 other books in the interim as relief; only the hope that the revelations at the end might make it worth while kept me going. It is so long and so slow and so dull. None of the characters seem remotely plausible - or, rather, they might have been if they had been fleshed out with more comprehension. The author seems to sense that various plot twists and relationships seem artificial and often has sections desperately trying to explain them away - all adding to the inordinate length. It is also desperately wearing when every chapter ends with hints as to the excitements ahead - this starts wretchedly early in the book and when nothing of note has happened by page 400 even the most long-suffering of readers must despair. A sad decline in form - and a lesson to me to read reviews BEFORE I buy a book !
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A great writer just going through the motions, 28 Jun. 2001
By 
Norman Housley (Leicester United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
I have found it fascinating reading through the posted reviews of Grasshopper. I love many of her earlier books, which are psychological thrillers at their very best. Books like A Dark Adapted Eye, The Chimney Sweeper's Boy and The Keys to the Street have plot twists which blow you away but at the same time create an atmosphere which lingers in your mind for weeks afterwards. With such masterpieces behind her, I just couldn't believe how poor Grasshopper was. There is, in effect, no plot. Of course BV is a brilliant writer but at times even her incredible skill cannot disguise the fact that she is, simply, word-spinning -- creating background and events which contribute absolutely nothing. There is literally page after page of concocted and pointless detail. The characters are not just thin, they are also positively irritating, esp. the dumb Liv: God, one just wants her to go roof-climbing so that she will fall off! The Johnny character is laughable -- Graham Greene meets The Young Ones. As for Prof. Max and his Ladies... words fail me.
By about p. 200 I started skimming because it was pretty clear it was going nowhere. Like others who have posted, I *sort* of finished it to see what happened. One problem is the grotesque length -- I do think BV at her best is concise, 250-300 pp. max. Like many other contemporary novelists, she seems to be writing more and more, which is not a good idea. Recently I abandoned Martin Amis's London Fields, another massive vol. which was also going nowhere, another attempt to 'get under the skin' of present-day London, and like Grasshopper comprising nothing but thinly portrayed and disagreeable characters.
This was a truly awful book and one must hope that BV gets on form again -- shorter books would surely be a good start.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as others by her, 16 May 2001
By A Customer
The reviews of this book are fascinating in their variation. What comes across strongly is the feeling I had - one of disappointment or let down. A new Barbara Vine is a much anticipated treat to be devoured with great enjoyment. I did finish this one, but only just...I can't help wondering whether Ms Vine didn't have a very exciting life as a young adult because once again we have a cast of young adult characters living free of parental restrictions, with private incomes, in a very hot summmer...sound familiar? Also the recurring interest in all things scandanavian (Astas Book, No Night is Too Long)and with "unnoticed" London (King Solomons Carpet). So no really new themes, a character who is both unreal/unbelievable and irritating beyond belief (Liv), the lifting from real life of the story of the family not allowed to adopt, all those constant allusions to "ah, but that was later"...is it any wonder that we are a little disappointed?
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I normally read books quickly..., 3 Sept. 2000
By 
G. J. Oxley "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Grasshopper (Hardcover)
I normally read books quickly but this one took me two weeks to finish. Why? The narrative hook just isn't strong enough, and all the time you're reading it you're thinking "What the hell is the point of this tedious novel?"
Like the other reviewers I found the passages where characters climb onto roofs as unlikely and frankly rather stupid. I also found it impossible to empathise with such an unattractive cast of people.
I kept on questioning just which particular audience Vine was attempting to entertain. It does read like a "young adults" book most of the time but it's themes are more adult.
Reading this book is a total waste of time. I at least expected a great denouement to redeem the previous 400 pages of utter tosh preceding it. However, when the twist of sorts did arrive it turned out to be an insult to the intelligence...
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars All a bit of a mess really, to say the least, 30 July 2000
By 
finna (LONDON, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Grasshopper (Hardcover)
Considering this was penned by the great Barbara Vine this was really trashy! Somewhere in all that rubbish there's the hint of an interesting plot about a group of misfits who climb on roofs for...well no reason at all, as far as I could make out. However the characters are truly putrid-unlikeable, uninteresting and wafer thin. The main part of the plot is utterly ludicrous - Vine never explains WHY they get caught up like they do, it's almost as if she just couldn't think of another way to advance the plot. Several times I thought we were getting somewhere interesting, but no, just more tedium and nonsense about walking on roofs and getting involved where there's no reason to in ridiculous and bizarre situations. I couldn't believe the book was headed in that direction and by the end I just couldn't believe I'd read a Barbara Vine at all. Unbelievable tosh from a normally fantastic writer
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The Grasshopper
The Grasshopper by Barbara Vine (Hardcover - 1 Jun. 2000)
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