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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two stories combined, fascinating look how actions in the past have consequences far into the future!
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...
Published 6 months ago by C. Bannister

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite vigorously entangling Vine
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...
Published 5 months ago by Lady Fancifull


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two stories combined, fascinating look how actions in the past have consequences far into the future!, 8 Feb 2014
By 
C. Bannister (Jersey, CI) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Child's Child (Kindle Edition)
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
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Child's Child (Hardcover)
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. Although John is genuinely concerned for Maud in her predicament, his offer is not totally altruistic, for John has been having a passionate sexual relationship with a feckless, but very attractive young man named Bertie and, disgusted by his homosexuality and fearing imprisonment, he wishes to end the relationship. However, although things initially go as planned, once Maud's baby is born and John meets up with Bertie again, a whole series of events begin, leaving no one in the story unscathed... (No spoilers, we learn most of this fairly early on in the novel and there is a lot more for prospective readers to discover).

The 'novel within a novel' covers almost two hundred pages and forms the main part of this book, with the present day story forming the first and last few chapters and, in this way, the author examines how the judgemental attitudes of the 1930s compare with those of the present day, and how those attitudes affected the lives of the people involved. It is interesting to read how, although John empathises with his sister in her situation and offers to help, when Maud discovers John's homosexuality, she is disgusted and her reaction reflects the same attitude as those in society who would have condemned her as an unmarried mother. Although I found this novel an entertaining read, with a rather old-fashioned feel to it, it did seem as if the modern day chapters had been tacked onto the main part of John's and Maud's story - so this is not a dual time frame novel where the story moves between the two periods of time throughout the entire book, keeping the reader interested in both stories at the same time. Also I should perhaps just add that if you are expecting a psychological thriller of intrigue and suspense, in Ruth Rendell's/Barbara Vine's trademark style, then this may disappoint; that said, I found 'The Child's Child' an interesting story of love, prejudice and betrayal, and of how self-righteous moral judgements can cast a shadow over the lives of not just those immediately involved, but also those who follow afterwards.

3.5 stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling but uneven storytelliing, 6 May 2014
By 
Jl Adcock "John Adcock" (Ashtead UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Child's Child (Paperback)
'The Child's Child' is saved from mediocrity by the brilliant piece of storytelling that Vine delivers for the majority of the book. It's this inner story - a book within a book - that tells of what it was like to bear a child out of wedlock in Britain in the late 1920s, and what it was like to be a homosexual - that rivets the reader. As both social history and an an unfolding drama it is superbly done.

But bookending this story is a wraparound story set in 2011 - which contains reference to the same themes - and this just doesn't work. The characters are curiously unlikeable and unbelievable - and Vine writes this part of the book in a very odd, clanky style that is at odds with the pace and engagement she achieves with the section set in earlier times.

Whilst not really a crime novel in the traditional sense of the word, Vine has always explored the darker side of human nature in her books, and this one is no exception. Parts of the story set in the blinkered, judgemental world of Britain in the early-mid twentieth century have a ring of Hardy about it, with its sense of unremitting bleakness and closed down options for those unfortunate enough to be on the wrong side of what society considered respectable and normal.

This one seems to have divided Amazon reviewers, and I too wasn't expecting much after the opening couple of chapters, which were very hard going and disappointing. But, the book blossoms into a powerful and quite disturbing story, of what alienation and judgement can bring upon people, and for that alone it deserves to be read as a powerful and well-constructed piece of writing. Certainly thought-provoking.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite vigorously entangling Vine, 24 Mar 2014
By 
This review is from: The Child's Child (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.

Its very vintage Vine territory in many ways, yet the `bookend section' which like a distorting mirror reflects the 1920s and 30s section, feels a little artificially constructed, in its mirror, whilst some characters in the earlier section feel either painted as almost unreal in kindness (Elspeth and Guy) and others descend too quickly into extreme unlikeability, so that there seems no real sense to the kind people, however kind, being so friendly with such a very selfish and rigid moaner as one of the central characters turns out, remarkably quickly, to be.

This was.........okay but a little like a fair copy of Vine, rather than her dark original best form
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Little details like that and several others further weaken an already weak ..., 13 July 2014
This review is from: The Child's Child (Paperback)
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 quickly turns into a very pedestrian story of social prejudice and almost pantomime-like goodies and baddies. This is already a well trodden path and perhaps the author did not feel able to sustain it over so many chapters without a lot of padding, such as historical references and a number of short lived characters and unlikely happenings, particular the sheet saga. As has been said, why didn't he just wash it? In any event, it added little or nothing to the tale. Why didn't the over active policeman manage to put two and two together over the head injury and the oar? Little details like that and several others further weaken an already weak story, and Maud as a character, is so obnoxious, one wonders how anyone could tolerate her for a second. I suppose to some degree she gets her due.
Then we are immediately brought back to the present, which by then I had largely forgotten. I had to flick back to the beginning to remind myself who these people were. The ending is all rather contrived and rushed and I found it hard to believe this book was by the same author who could come up with stories such as A Fatal Inversion or A Dark Adapted Eye. These tales are truly multi-layered, full of well drawn characters and genuine suspense and intrigue.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the wait?, 16 Mar 2013
By 
M. D. Smart (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Child's Child (Hardcover)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to Barbara Vine's usual standard, 12 May 2014
By 
Christopher J. Napier (Egham, Surrey, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Child's Child (Kindle Edition)
The central theme of this novel is the contrast of attitudes to births "out of wedlock" at different periods. I thought, though, that the structure of the novel was clumsy, with the main character working on a thesis examining women giving birth to illegitimate children in 19th century fiction, a "book within the book" - a supposed novel from the mid-20th century where two female characters of different generations conceive out of wedlock, and a similar situation arising in the early 21st century. I thought that the "book within the book" was unconvincing (unless the rather poor writing style and the clunky insertion of background material about events and situations at the time of the narrative was intentional to suggest that the book was a first draft that needed to be edited). The overall novel finished rather abruptly, and in the end I felt that Barbara Vine was trying to juggle too many plot lines and themes. unfortunately, I do not think that this book can be put in the same rank as some of her classic novels, such as "A Fatal Inversion" or "The House of Stairs".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, 19 May 2014
This review is from: The Child's Child (Paperback)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing but still unsettling.........., 9 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Childs Child (Paperback)
I have always admired the dark plotting of RR writing as Barbara Vine and "Asta's Book" is one of my all time favourites. I did not like "The Child's Child" at all. The parallels between1929 and 2011 were very laboured but at least we were constantly reminded that people had their horrid bigotries at every period of time. The book was peopled with unpleasant characters; obviously the deeply amoral Bertie, but I was also shocked at how the adult Maud was portrayed. The modern day characters were thin and under developed and I agree with other reviewers who commented on the weakness of the ending. (For me, both endings were unsatisfactory. I had to reread the last chapter of the Maud section as I thought I'd missed something.). However, there was something in the atmosphere that the writer creates that made it all deliciously creepy and that has always been Barbara Vine's greatest talent.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hugely disappointed, 5 July 2013
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This review is from: The Child's Child (Kindle Edition)
Two interlinked stories, one set in the modern day and the other in 1929 reflecting on the same issues, illegitimacy and homosexuality. In the past I have been a big BV/RR fan but the modern part of this story just didn't ring true and the dialogue and actions were pretty toe curling at times. The 1929 story was better but still there was no real mystery or twist in the tale which used to make BV's novels so addictive.

I hate to say this but I think it would be easier on the reader if BV stopped writing about the younger generation and concentrated totally on times past which we know she can excel at. I would love to see her back to her finest, but sadly for me this was poor.
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