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Publisher's Summary

Like most families, they had their secrets...
...and they hid them under a genteelly respectable veneer. No onlooker would guess that prim Vera Hillyard and her beautiful, adored younger sister, Eden, were locked in a dark and bitter combat over one of those secrets. England in the '50s was not kind to women who erred, so they had to use every means necessary to keep the truth hidden behind closed doors - even murder.
©1986 Kingsmarkham Enterprises Ltd (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

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By Jennifer on 08-20-11

Even better in audio form

This has long been one of my favorite books. I've read it many times and recommended it to many other people. But it has been a few years since I last read it, and the narration, which I listened to while driving to and from NYC is wonderfully excellent.

This book requires a lot of thought, and is a perfect match for the audio format. Having the extra time to really appreciate the subtleties, mysteries, and deep character development is the strength of this format. You'd miss much of this when only reading. The narrator is top knotch, nailing the nuances and exploring the maturation of the main character over time. I can't recommend this one enough.

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15 of 15 people found this review helpful


By Bonny on 02-08-15

Well-written, absorbing psychological mystery

I bought this on the basis of audible reviews and was not disappointed. This is not an edge-of-your-seat mystery. It unfolds slowly and moves deeper and deeper into the characters, their histories and their motivations. It is beautifully narrated by Harriet Walter. If you're looking for something to lose yourself in and spend some time with, I recommend it.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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By Kirstine on 07-06-15

Compelling exposure of a family’s secrets

The author’s forte is in her depiction of human relationships whether writing detective fiction as Ruth Rendell or in her more psychological novels as Barbara Vine. This book is not a detective story and from the beginning we know that Vera has killed her sister Eden. The whole book is a detailed unravelling of why this occurred through the voice of Faith: the niece of the victim and perpetrator. Most of the characters are flawed and not particularly likeable but the narrative is utterly compelling and I was drawn into a hot-house of emotions among family members and their their dysfunctional relationships.

This is justifiably rated as one of the author’s best books and made a great listen.

Harriet Walter is an accomplished narrator and skilfully portrayed both young and old, male and female.

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful


By Jack87 on 12-03-15

Brilliant story, with dark and complex characters

A brilliant, dark, thought-provoking story with some of the most well-realised and complex characters I’ve ever come across. Whatever ‘crime’ novels or ‘detective fiction’ or ‘thrillers’ are usually supposed to be, for me this utterly transcended those genres. As the narrator comments, we know from the start who the killer is and how the murder was done. Instead of focussing on that, Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell) unfolds the psychology of the Hillyard family with a perceptiveness that sometimes takes your breath away. It made me think that other books I’ve read with supposedly ‘deep’ or ‘complex’ characters are quite flat and obvious by comparison. There are lots of twists in the plot, but they never felt like contrivances or clever tricks. They come about as Faith, the character who narrates the story, grows gradually wiser and more perceptive about the secretive ways of her two aunts – as her ‘eye’ adapts to understand their dark behaviour, to paraphrase the title. Harriet Walter was an excellent reader, appropriately understated in her delivery but giving distinctive, memorable voices to the characters, many of whom are painfully repressed and reserved. This is the first Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell I’ve read or listened to, and I’ll certainly read more now.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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By Paddington on 05-12-14

Spellbound to the end

I loved this book. The characters and behaviour were fascinating set in a time when pretence of social position was vitally important to many people. It left me wondering who indeed was the real mother of the child. I am definitely going to read more by Barbara Vine. Highly recommended.

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