I have placed this book on my shelf of books about books because Rendell here under her pseudonym borrows her main story line, events that are recalled, from The Wings of the Dove by Henry James In fact, the narrator admits she has caused events to unfold because she tells another character the plot of the classic The narrator begins her story seeming surprising sane despite the burdens she bears, but somewhere in the last chunk of the book her vision, as it were, narrows as we understand she is either becoming ill or is suffering from a mental breakdown What s interesting is that we ll never know what does happen to her because the book ends on a ringing phone, which creates a deep seated fear in the reader Or at least it did the first time I read it Now, I see that the author does let us know many times before the end what the real end of the story will be.
This did not read at all like a thriller, or what is usually considered a thriller.
Character, and clever storytelling techniques were as much to be savoured as the plot.
And some people complain about the number of characters in a Russian novel Here they are all tumbling out in the early chapters, names galore and who might you be I was continually asking myself.
Not only Characters but Father Timeone is being constantly shunted backwards and forwards.
And YES, we know so and so is a murdererbut who s the victim and just how many are there and when and where Oh, so it s X is a victim, we are toldbut X has never even featured yet and we re halfway through the novel.
But it s really a delight, because one knows that one is in the secure hands of a deft storyteller and it is safe to relish ALL her goodies to the last mouthfuland then some It reminded me of the excellent writing of the TV series Foyle s War all along the way unfinished business or loose ends that you had to acknowledge, tuck away in your Memory Box,and trust that the storyteller would explain, resolve or whatever at some pointand still, trusting as the last chapters or minutes were upon you, and then without any awkwardness they found their logical resolution, like shaking a box of loose chocolates and they all roll around and settle comfortably into the proper cavity except for one niggling piece that is stuck in an upper molar and which you will have to contend with for the remainder of your Reading Life But not through author s negligencesweets are to savour Savour this Great read is my advice.
A most intriguing book Beautifully written as I have come to expect by Ms Vine aka Ruth Rendell.
I love her use of the English language, her grammar is perfect and she uses some lovely unusual words that you do not hear very often any I was fascinated by Bell she was abrupt to the point of rudeness and a consummate liar, the reason for which we find out later in the book Elizabeth is in my opinion a little gullible, she believes Bell and gets the blame for her wrong doings Cosette is a sad lady, she is very rich and very sweet natured but also dreadfully afraid of being left alone and lonely and she tries to buy friends She fills her huge house with waifs and strays but most of them are just there for a hand out and not truly fond of Cosette I was so impressed by the portrait of Bell that the author painted with words I had built up a picture of what I thought Bell looked like and then when she was compared to the painting of Lucrezia by Bronzino I looked it up and I was so surprised that she was just as I had imagined her I thought that I knew how the story would evolve and what would happen at the end Elizabeth tells us right at the beginning about certain events but don t be put off as it is not a giveaway and there are other dramas and traumas that are totally unexpected.
I was pleased to find a book by this author that I had not read before I think I have read most of Ruth Rendell s books, they are always a joy to read.
This was one of the first three Barbara Vine novels I d been an avid fan of Ruth Rendell since my early teens even before she came to our school to chat to us in the sixth form common room she was a friend of our form teacher When I found out she d written three novels under another name, I was incensed Why hadn t anyone told me I devoured all three books immediately, and loved them the daily commute from Colchester to Liverpool Street had never been so enjoyable The books have been in storage for over five years, and I ve missed them I m enjoying reading them all over again The storytelling is superb She mentions things that you don t know yet and it s not until later that you think, oh right, I get it Re reading it, I ve picked up things I missed first time round in my haste to find out what happened Delicious.
I do have a quibble with the story, however I understand why Lizzie is driven to see Bell again and to try to get Bell to explain her behavior but after the first encounter, why continue the relationship, given Bell s history If Lizzie rejected Bell after the initial meeting, I guess we wouldn t have the entire story, but I belive a writer as clever as Rendell could have found a way to finish the narrative without this rather odd relationship.
Other than that, a smart read from Rendell.
I am back to the same dilemma, choosing the appropriate rating.
It seems to me that works of fine, literary merit should stand apart from those of a untried worth There is no debate in my estimation, that Barbara Vine is a skilled, even brilliant author but this novel was dark, often plodding and very depressing I liked it least of those I have read by Vine So here I am with an internal dispute Do I rate this book in the same class as someone who has slim talent and grinds out new popular books constantly These abilities cannot compare with Vine s Ruth Rendell gifted prose, unusual imagination and superb, vivid character development She even imparts clever devices with allusions to other novelists and artists, such as Henry James Wings of the Dove, a constant reminder in this suspenseful psychological tale.
The House of Stairs An Unputdownable Crime Classic From Bestselling Author Barbara VineLizzie Hasn T Seen Her Old Friend, Bell, For Some Fourteen Years, But When She Spots Her From A Taxi In A London Street She Jumps Out And Pursues Her Despite All The Terrible Things That Passed Between Them As Lizzie Reveals Those Events, Little By Little, The Women Rekindle Their Friendship, With Terrifying Results This Is The Third Psychological Thriller By Ruth Rendell Writing As Barbara Vine And When I Say It Surpasses The First Two That S Really Saying Something Vine Has Not Only Produced A Quietly Smouldering Suspense Novel But Also Presents An Accurately Atmospheric Portrayal Of London In The Heady S Literally Unputdownable Time Out The House of Stairs Is A Modern Masterpiece Of The Crime Genre And Will Leave You Gripped From The First Page To The Last If You Enjoy The Novels Of PD James, Ian Rankin And Scott Turow, You Will Love This Book The Rendell Vine Partnership Has For Years Been Producing Consistently Better Work Than Most Booker Winners Put Together Ian Rankin A Superb And original Writer Amanda Craig, ExpressBarbara Vine Is The Pen Name Of Ruth Rendell She Has Written Fifteen Novels Using This Pseudonym, Including A Fatal Inversion And King Solomon S Carpet Which Both Won The Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger Award Her Other books Include A Dark Adapted Eye The House of Stairs Gallowglass Asta S Book No Night Is Too Long In The Time Of His Prosperity The Brimstone Wedding The Chimney Sweeper S Boy Grasshopper The Blood Doctor The Minotaur The Birthday Present And The Child S Child I m frustrated with this book I enjoyed reading it, but the ending irritated me Why does Elizabeth take Bell into her home and her Will She is such an awful person with no redeeming qualities Why take care of her after everything Also, why does Elizabeth allow Cossette to go on thinking she was betrayed by everyone she loved I think Elizabeth owes it to Cossette to explain that she was not the mastermind of the plot so Cossette knows at least one person in the world loved her just for who she was.
The banality of evil Shocking.
Splendid psychological suspense novel in my Rendell Vine Top 5 This book sent me to the web to look up Bronzino s portrait of Lucrezia Panciatichi and to the bookstore for James Wings of the Dove Vivid portrait of hedonistic mod 1960s London Bell is one of many female sociopaths in Rendell s works, and I think one of the best Is this Rendell s only novel featuring a lesbian relationship No Night Too Long and Chimney Sweeper s Boy both feature gay bi I can t think of any other off top of my head I found the role of Huntington s Disease in the novel to be very original, plausible and fascinating.