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The Minotaur Paperback – 2 Mar 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Paperback, 2 Mar 2006
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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (2 Mar. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141020725
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141020723
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 3 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,543,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'The reader is kept in suspense throughout... vintage wine from the Rendell vine' Independent 'The Cosway family is a mesmerizing creation... I rushed through the last pages' - Penelope Lively, Sunday Times 'Stealthy, credible, ingenious and addictive' Literary Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Barbara Vine is the pen-name of Ruth Rendell. Viking have published her eleven previous novels, including A Dark-Adapted Eye, which won the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger Award, and most recently Grasshopper and The Blood Doctor - both bestsellers. Ruth Rendell sits in the House of Lords as a Labour peer. She lives in Maida Vale, London.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As with the previous reveiwer, I cannot praise Barbara Vine's latest work enough. As is often the case with Vine's books, this ia a true slow-burner, and the real action does not occur until the latter parts of the book, but the build up and characters are so compelling you are gripped from the outset, feeling, perhaps like Kerstin that you are an outsider given a privileged but disturbing vantage point to observe the family in the Hall. The Cosways are a superb creation, sinister, grotesque, comedic and pitiable by turns, certainly a dysfunctional family to rival the dynamics of the Hilliard/Longley family in A Dark adapted Eye (One of my favourites from her earlier works). The clues and pointers are placed strategically from the start, from the characters reaquainted with Kerstin at the start and those they mention, to the Roman vase, the library and Lydstep Old Hall itself, leading you compulsively onwards to the shattering conclusions. I was slightly concerned at one point that developments toward the end would result in a cheap pastiche of events in Jane Eyre and Rebecca, but Vine creates her own set of circumstances, and by references to both, she deftly avoids this.
I have thoroughly enjoyed and wholeheartedly reccommend The Minotaur
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Format: Hardcover
I so agree with one of the previous reviewers that Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell is the best writer in her genre. She is streets ahead of anyone else in the field. The plot has been dealt with by several reviewers so will not repeat it here. What is so marvellous about Vine's writing is her building up of the story to a great (and usually unexpected climax). True, the plot was fairly obvious but it was the way she approached the story that made it so interesting. I also have the problem of wanting to gallop ahead and yet rationing myself so that I don't finish the book too quickly. I have read all her books and most of them twice. Her ability to deal with and develop the characters in her books is just amazing. Each and every one of the Cosway children as well as Mrs. Cosway and the outside characters were made so human and so believable. This book deserves 6 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Magnificent. This is a family with severe and serious relationship problems which seem to me to be caused solely by the mother's dark and obsessive possessiveness, coupled with her very dark and unguessable secret. Vine's imaginative powers have no end to their depth - she's supreme. This book has sex - one character sleeping with 2 sisters at the same time, a vicar,a very dodgy doctor, a family feud simmering mostly in silence but which occasionally raises itself above the parapet to be quoshed rapidly;intigue in spades;collusion in spades; a creepy library. This is juxtaposed with an idyllic country setting.

Vine is amazing. Long may she write such chilling novels which stop us in our tracks and prevent us from doing anything except turning the pages. I can only think in superlatives about this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kersten Kvist comes to live in the poisonous, suffocating Lydstep Old Hall, as nurse/assistant for the Cosway family. Kersten is Swedish, worried that she will lose the right to stay in the country if she gives up her job, which explains why she remains in a situation that would have any sane person running for cover. Her job is to help care for John Cosway, the adult son of the family who is regarded as mad, in need of perpetual watching and medication. In reality, although John is clearly autistic, it is his mother and sisters who are the real basket cases, malevolent, selfish, and horribly absurd. Shades of Brontë and Frankenstein set in 1960s Essex. I drowned in it.
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Format: Hardcover
I always enjoy Ruth Rendell/Barabra Vine and this was no exception. The book was totally addictive although I don't think the plot was particularly difficult to work out but it wsn't meant to be. The building up of the dark atmosphere, the frustrations of the characters and their unpleasant personlaities (apart fromt he narrator) was gripping. One of her best.
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By S. Hapgood VINE VOICE on 9 Jan. 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As soon as I heard about the plot outline for this I knew that this would be Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell on tip-top form. We're back in the 1960s, and Kerstin Kvist, a young Swedish girl, arrives at a remote country house in the wilds of Essex, to act as nurse/companion to John Cosway, a man in his late thirties, who Kerstin is led to believe is suffering from schizophrenia. Kerstin soon realises that her duties aren't exactly arduous. She has to accompany John on his afternoon walk, and oversee his medication at bedtime. It is with this medication that Kerstin soon realises that something is very wrong at the Hall. Kerstin is up against John's mother, a truly monstrous and thoroughly detestable old lady, who rules the household with a rod of iron. There is absolutely nothing likeable about Mrs Cosway, but she is not a pantomime villain, she's all too believable. Also in the household are John's three spinster sisters, Ella, Winifred (both of whom are obsessed with the same man, an arrogant artist called Felix), and downtrodden Ida, who acts as a maid-of-all-work for everyone. As the book unfolds the lack of any human feeling or normal emotions exhibited by the Cosways becomes truly disturbing. Eventually Kerstin feels she is becoming as cowed and downtrodden as Ida.
Both Kerstin and the author's great compassion for John is what lifts this book above what could have been just any other Aga saga thriller, or a spoof of the Victorian Gothics, at which the author pokes some gentle fun at times. Kerstin's growing affection for John, and the way he tries to reach out to her in the limited way he knows how, are heart-rending. The final pay-off is done simply and low-key, but it will horrify you.
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