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The Chimney Sweeper's Boy Hardcover – 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Harmony Books; First Edition edition (1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 060960287X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609602874
  • Product Dimensions: 23.7 x 16.1 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 703 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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First Sentence
"NOT A WORD TO MY GIRLS," HE HAD SAID ON THE WAY home from the hospital. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joel Jacobsen on March 6 2001
Format: Paperback
It is evident that people have strong reactions to this book. I liked it more than any other Rendell/Vine book, with the possible exception of "Dark Adapted Eye." One of the most fascinating features of the book is the way in which forms of sexual pathology get repeated, with variations, through three generations of a family. Gerald's mother's relationship with her second husband gets echoed in Gerald's relationship with his wife, and Gerald's two daughters act it out in their own peculiar ways, until the very end, when one of them wakes up. There's great insight into what might be called the erotic lives of families, and the writing is first rate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MOVIE MAVEN on June 17 2000
Format: Paperback
A friend gave me her copy of "The Chimney Sweeper's Boy" and I was hooked from page 1. The numerous characters are all complex and fascinating--even the minor ones; the plot, although I guessed the "mystery-surprise," unfolds beautifully--I certainly do not want to tell you any of the twists and turns (& there are plenty)of this "psychological mystery;" the writing is graceful, but never calls attention to itself. This is a truly terrific story told wonderfully. I have already purchased my second Barbara Vine book and cannot wait to start it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Emilia Palaveeva on Feb. 26 2001
Format: Paperback
I have a very high opinion of Rendell/Vine and enjoyed every single book I read. This one was one of the best with fully developed characters, a strong story and the spicy unexpected turns.
What distinguishes this author's mysteries from the rest out there is a depth in exploring what motivates people's behavior and acts, no matter whether these are acts of love and loyalty or hatered and shalowness.
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Format: Hardcover
Ruth Rendell, writing as Barbara Vine, once again uses her razor-sharp scalpel to dissect a dysfunctional family in "The Chimney Sweeper's Boy." She has done this many times before. "A Sight for Sore Eyes" comes to mind as an example. Rendell shows how our "loved ones" have the power to destroy us and how families are the battlefield of humanity. This book is about Gerald Candless, a successful and famous novelist who has a wife, Ursula, and two daughters, Hope and Sarah. He treats his daughters like goddesses and he is indifferent and, at times, vicious to his wife. Sarah begins to do research for a biography about her father's life, and she finds that Gerald had hidden a secret identity from the rest of the world. Rendell makes the gradual revelation of the truth about Gerald's past extremely suspenseful. She brilliantly interweaves bits of Gerald's writing into the book to show how he used the creative process to deal with his personal demons. Gerald cannibalized the lives of those around him for the sake of his art. Rendell delves into the psyches of each member of this unhappy family expertly, and I felt empathy for these people who had been manipulated by a master of deceit.
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Format: Paperback
Barbara Vine is arguably one of the most prolific of contemporary writers and her creative genius is never more obvious than in "The Chimney Sweeper's Boy." (Vine is the pseudonym of author Ruth Rendell.) And in this novel, Vine departs from her "regular" thrillers and embarks on a different route from what we've come to expect from her. Granted, Vine's ability to capture her reader totally, as in her thrillers, is once again to the fore. In this book, famed writer Gerald Candless early on suffers a fatal heart attack and one of his daughters, Sarah, is persuaded to write a biography, a memoir of what it was like to be the daughter of such a famous writer. Thus begins the odyssey: she quickly discovers that Candless is not her father's real name. And what she unearths is at once chilling, emotionally trying, sentimental, and tragic. Sarah is in for a long haul. And Vine is at her best as she lays bear the souls of her principle characters. Perhaps what keeps the book alive--and the reader so absorbed--is Vine's penchant for capturing her audience completely. And while "Chimney's Sweeper's Boy" is not a Rendell-mystery, complete with police procedural revelations, it is a book that is compelling, almost impossible to put down. That is the beauty of the work, the genius of Vine's writing ability. Vine scores easily in this scholarly, sophisticated, yet readable, missive. The characters, in addition to Sarah, are complete and believable. Early on, Candless and his Girls play The Game, an esoteric, snobbish parlor contest. No rules are explained but the object is for the players to pass a scissors a certain way and to be able to explain the move, thus the "solution" to the riddle.Read more ›
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By A Customer on July 6 1998
Format: Hardcover
Earlier this summer I read Irving's A Widow for One Year in which most of the characters write novels that help them deal with their emotional traumas and fixations. Now with Vine's latest I have been treated to another tale of life becoming fiction and the consequences of continually re-inventing oneself. Although, at times this novel does begin to defeat itself in its presentation (the chapter epigrams with their allusions and big hints ruin many of the twists) I was completely hooked from beginning to end. Who cannot sympathize with Ursula's heartbreak and wish for her to have a second chance? Who cannot want her daughters to finally be free of their near hypnotic adoration of their father's memory and finally realize how their mother was cheated, deceived and abused? I don't find these characters predictable and disagree with the reader from Ohio that Vine's previous books are populated with unlikeable characters. I must say I don't understand people who read novels looking for people to like all the time. Good novel writing presents us with characters that are flawed and complex. I am continually surprised when people mistake dimension for the lack of it, that shallowness, stubbornness, pettiness, meanness for all the criticism they bring are actually character traits found in real people.
In conclusion, I think that gay people will find this novel fairly transparent (the excerpt from Less Is More on the very first page is unfortunately too obvious), however incredibly insightful and true to life. Barbara Vine books always contain at least one gay character (sometimes gay and lesbian) and present gay people as human beings and not objects of ridicule or disgust. There is nothing "sensational" or "tabloid" in writing compassionately.
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