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The Chinmey Sweeper's Boy Hardcover – 1 Jun 1998

3.5 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 Jun 1998
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony Books; First edition edition (Jun. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 060960287X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609602874
  • Product Dimensions: 23.7 x 16.1 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,155,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Joyce Carol Oates "The New York Times Book Review" One of the finest practitioners of her craft in the English-speaking world. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Barbara Vine is Ruth Rendell. Twelve novels have been published under this pen-name, including A Dark-Adapted Eye, which won the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger Award. Ruth Rendell sits in the House of Lords as a Labour peer. She lives in Maida Vale, London. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
With the death of successful author and Booker Prize nominee Gerald Candless, his family, living on the fog-shrouded coast of England, has a variety of responses. His wife Ursula, who has suffered his sexual rejection since the birth of their two daughters, now in their twenties, is at last free of his domination. His daughters, both of whom have been doted upon by their father, are devastated, and resentful that their mother, whom their father ignored, seems far less bereaved than they are. When older daughter Sarah, a college professor and writer, has her proposal for a biography of her father accepted by a major publisher, she expects this to be a healing experience. After all, her father kept journals and drew on his experiences for plots for his books--the raw material for a memoir is all there.

When Sarah begins her research, however, she discovers that her father's identity is as dark and fog-shrouded as the coast on which they live, that his name, parentage, upbringing, early work experiences, and entire past life may not be what she and her family have always believed. As Sarah delves into the past, this novel by Barbara Vine (the pseudonym used by Ruth Rendell for her most "psychological" novels) becomes a genealogical investigation into the life of a most mysterious man. Sarah's discoveries often come with a hard price, emotionally, affecting the memories she and her sister have of their revered father but, in many ways, liberating their mother and allowing the sisters to know her in new ways.

Vine reveals the mysteries of Gerald Candless in slow increments, her careful construction allowing the reader to share in the discoveries as information comes to Sarah through her research and that of an assistant she hires to act as a detective.
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By A Customer on 17 Jan. 2003
Format: Paperback
This is the first book I've read by Ruth Rendell writing under the pseudonym of Barbara Vine. However, judging by the other reviews, it is a little different from her usual format. I really enjoyed this story and became more interested in the secret past of Gerald Candless and by the time I reached the last couple of chapters, I was really gripped as the truth about Gerald was revealed. I can understand how some reviewers may have lost interest in the story, as they were probably expecting a thriller, but I must admit that this is my kind of book. I will still try other books by Barbara Vine as I like detective and thriller books as well and, if this novel is anything to go by, I really enjoyed her style of writing.
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By A Customer on 14 May 1999
Format: Hardcover
Vine is one of my favourite authors but this was immensely disappointing. The "mystery" was predictable, the characters unlikeable and uninteresting, the plot unbelievable. Vine writes brilliantly about jealousy, obsession, and the psychology of relationships and she evokes places and atmosphere beautifully, but her weakness has always been endings. They have always seemed too neat, too contrived. The absurd (and completely predictable) ending of this book, however, must be one of her worst.
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By Rotgut VINE VOICE on 14 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
This slow, evenly paced book reminds me quite a bit of one of Josephine Tey's excellent character-driven mysteries. Unfortunately, unlike, say "The Franchise Affair",Vine's novel really does drag and, fatally, it is hard to sympathise with any of the main characters. The ending removes any chance of the reader taking the preceding story seriously.
In fact, the frankly bizarre denouement could be read as a very bad taste joke, rather a homophobic one at that, a silly and unbelievable way to end a rather lengthy book for the long suffering reader.
The best part of the book, in my opinion, is the convincing depiction of the loveless marriage between the successful author and his naive wife. Her constant hurt at his excluding her from their own marriage rings horribly true.
An unusual book, with an imaginative narrative structure, undermined by the "crime" revealed at the end. Maybe a more traditional storyline, where a murder or another serious misdemeanour is uncovered, would have worked better?
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Format: Paperback
The Chimney Sweeper's Boy was the first Barbara Vine novel I'd read, although I have read several Ruth Rendalls (Vine's true persona). I found the same problem with this as with the others I'd read - a thin, stilted plot played out by two dimensional, unsympathetic characters. The story is of Gerald Candless, beloved father yet cruel, distant husband, whose daughter discovers some disturbing facts about his past while researching her memoir of his life and their relationship. The perspective switches between Sarah, the daughter, and Ursula, the neglected wife, whose memories and discoveries combine to draw a picture of the man.

So far, so thrilling. But I felt the story never really got off the ground. The plot lacked pace and, as with so many of Rendall's novels, the characters were by turns irritating and deeply unpleasant. There was no real examination of their feelings and motivations and, crucially, no satisfying conclusion - although the mystery of Gerald's past is revealed (after a clue so enormous you wonder how his apparently intelligent daughter missed it), several major issues, including Ursula's relationship with her daughters, were left frustratingly unresolved.

But for me, one of the biggest let downs was the excepts from Gerald's novels and descriptions of his plots. For someone who was supposed to be an excellent, Booker-nominated novellist, these were simply not up to scratch, which utterly destroyed the illusion.
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