I recently downloaded 'Asta's Book' on my Kindle, and have just finished re-reading it after a gap of many years. I think it may be my favourite BV/RR, and that's saying a lot. I agree with the opinion of some other reviewers that the pace is quite slow, but for me this is an advantage, allowing the atmosphere within the various houses, and the tensions and mysteries within the family, to develop properly. In addition, the author gives herself room and time to present a thorough and highly informative picture of both Britain and, to an extent, Denmark in the early decades of the twentieth century. I'm fascinated by family history, and, apart from being a first-rate story, there's much to interest those with a similar obsession. Incidentally, I'm not sure I agree with the shout line claiming it's a 'psychological thriller' since this really implies something more ruthlessly paced and with a lot more dramatic action.
Highly recommended to those with the time to relish the slow unfailing of a truly satisfying mystery set against a thoroughly and lovingly created background.
When I discovered Asta's Book (actually, the first one was a birthday present), I immediatley fell in love with this intrigueing story that unrevels ever so slowly. I have re-read it a couple of times over the years and it lost nothing of it's charm. A wonderful mystery, beautifully drawn characters and an excellent read!
The blurb sounded intriguing and I love mysteries/thrillers and I was looking forward to settling down and reading this. Oh dear it was a long read. I can appreciate the main character's plight; 1905 London's east end, a Dutch lady struggling with being in a strange country, struggling with the language and with the locals' perception of her as a foreigner, two children, one about to drop and husband back in the Netherlands. But the story is so depressing. She hates her husband, the people (too pretentious) the country, the weather (the sun sets too early despite being summer), her house (it's too small), her furniture (too ugly). She has a servant despite having no money, she refers to her servant's friend as 'this' Christine. It could have been better.
I am a huge fan of Barbara Vine, aka Ruth Rendell, so this book was a huge disappointment to me. In fact it is the first book of hers, that I have actually NOT finished! I tried, but it just did not grip me, as her usual books do, and I am sorry to say I did not enjoy the half that I did read.
Having just read "A Fatal Inversion" and "Live Flesh" (two superb psychological thrillers), I could not have been more disappointed in "Asta's Book". It was wordy, extremely long (the author could have easily removed at least 50-100 pages without it adversely affecting the plot), and just not that interesting. I did finish it, but almost gave up several times due to boredom. "Asta's Book" is without a doubt the worst Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell book I've read so far and I do not recommend it. It pains me to say this as I do really enjoy most Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell books...but this one simply wasn't worth my time.