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3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
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on 12 July 2017
As above i found it easy to get into and i was able to dip in and out without getting lost.
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on 28 June 2001
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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on 26 June 2009
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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on 2 March 2012
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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VINE VOICEon 2 April 2006
Normally I can't wait to read any book by Barbara Vine (aka Ruth Rendell), so perhaps it was secretly telling me something that I had had this one sitting around at home for several months before I started it. There ARE moments of vintage Vine in this. The incident on the pylon, around which the whole book hangs has a marvellously haunting, dreamlike quality to it, and the descriptions of the gloomy basement flat where Clodagh goes to live are emphatically in the very best of the Rendell/Vine tradition. But after 200 pages of this book I simply couldn't stand any more of it. The characters doggedly refuse to come to life. The younger ones in particular just don't seem at all plausible. Johnny the cat-burglar is more like a Bill Sykes clone from Victorian London than a young thug in the post-Millennial city. And the piously irritating Goody Two-Shoes Silver isn't remotely real.
But what I really simply couldn't stand was the character of Clodagh herself. I'm not saying it's essential for you to actually LIKE the central character in a novel to enjoy it by any means, (and most of us prefer a flawed central character anyway), but it does help also if you don't find them boring, cold-blooded, ungrateful, selfish, miserable, and just generally downright depressing! Which is unfortunate as it is Clodagh herself telling the story. At the beginning of Chapter 3 she says, "I don't suppose you want to know the details of the trapped-in-the-underground-cell dream I had early the next morning and from which I woke up screaming" .... too right I don't! This book is already boring enough without that as well!!! And instead of being excited, my heart just sank when the characters set off for yet another rooftop ramble. A sort of "oh no, how long's this one going to go on for?!" And would young adults really get so excited about climbing over roof-tops that they make it the focal-point of their entire existence??? I mean, it's more the sort of thing a little child would get thrilled about, like camping out in the garden! Sorry. Rendell/Vine is normally one of those authors I just want to praise, praise and praise, I usually think she's brilliant, but I can't do it here. If you're new to this author's work then I personally recommend you start with "The House Of Stairs", "Gallowglass" or the more recent "The Minotaur", as an introduction to her.
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on 7 August 2001
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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on 24 May 2001
I did enjoy the story, and was surprised by the twists.
My only criticisms would be that I found it a little hard to follow in the first half of the book. The story of where she was now in her life would cut in a little too abruptly, and too often for me, to the story of the past.
However, it did keep me interested, and as the story went on, it flowed far more smoothly. The first part can be a pit off putting as it doesn't flow very well, but it does get better, and I found myself glued to it once I was half way through. I became very intrigued as to what had happenned to these people in the future - and couldn't put the book down towards the end.
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on 29 February 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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on 11 August 2000
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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on 27 October 2001
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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