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The Chimney Sweeper's Boy [Hardcover]

Barbara (pseudonym of Ruth Rendell) Vine
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Book by Barbara Vine

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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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

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Huge Disappointment June 29 1998
By A Customer
To put it bluntly, this is a mystery without mystery, a thriller without thrills. Like "Anna's Book" and "No Night Is Too Long" it is populated by obnoxious and predictable people. Two thirds of the way through you have everything figured out and there are no surprises left. The typical Barbara Vine twist at the end that shocks, surprises, and delights is totally lacking here. What I find most dismaying is that a writer of Vine's stature has sunk to using gimmicks to spice up an otherwise pedestrian plot. I hope she waits until she can come up with some decent characters and a plot that that has more to offer than tabloid sensationalism before publishing another book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific novel March 6 2001
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
5.0 out of 5 stars MY FIRST BARBARA VINE! June 17 2000
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
4.0 out of 5 stars More than a mystery Feb. 26 2001
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, dramatic and disturbing work. Feb. 20 2000
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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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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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but ultimately disappointing
A disappointing Barbara Vine book is still quite an accomplishment. The characters in this one are very interesting, well-drawn and three-dimensional. Read more
Published on Aug. 21 2001 by "tsarantos"
3.0 out of 5 stars Great but not my kind of ending......
I love Rendell/Vine books and this one was incredible! I couldn't wait to see how it ended..... and then it ended in a way that wasn't really appealing to me. Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2000 by bostoni
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time
This was my first Barbara Vine book, and I was disappointed. The plot unfolded painfully slowly, and I almost put it down. Read more
Published on July 12 2000
This was my first Barbara Vine book and I must admit that I hated the first 50 pages and almost put it down. I could not find one redeeming quality in any of the characters. Read more
Published on April 25 2000 by Nancy Martin
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Vine's novels usually leave me breathless with admiration, but I found this positively tame compared to most of her earlier work. Read more
Published on April 15 2000 by finna
This was my first Barbara Vine book and I must admit that I hated the first 50 pages and almost put it down. I could not find one redeeming quality in any of the characters. Read more
Published on April 15 2000 by Nancy Martin
2.0 out of 5 stars Her heart wasn't in it
I am also a big fan of Barbara Vine. I loved both A Dark-Adapted Eye and A Fatal Inversion. I almost didn't finish this one, but ploughed through only out of a sense of loyalty... Read more
Published on March 31 2000 by A reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding...
I don't think this was a perfect novel -- but it was fascinating and very well written. I agree with previous reviewers that the was the plot was wrapped up was not completely... Read more
Published on March 29 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Mystery!
This was a really great mystery! I was absolutely hooked by page 5. I have not read a real page-turner in quite a long time. Read more
Published on March 24 2000 by Denise Martin
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