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This is not Ruth Rendell aka Barbara Vine’s best work.
It kept promising to ratchet up the suspense, but just didn’t deliver on that promise.
Other reviewers have mentioned the terms melodramatic and soap-opera, and I have to agree. The performers delivered their lines as if sedated on Lithium, which really didn’t help matters.
Very near Nabokov. Brilliantly executed. Entirely deep and real characters. The love and pain drives their stories. Have always preferred BV to RR.
Was surprised how sexual this was, but the story has lust as its focus. All the twists and turns of some not very nice people, but keeps you interested. Recommended.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I think I'd be happy listening to Alex Jennings reading a shopping list, and I originally saw this book because I was looking for anything new he had narrated that I fancied. I have not read any Barbara Vine before so I have nothing to compare it with. But I did enjoy it a lot.
The story is a slow-burn, though the pace really picks up in the last part of the book. It is a complex plot too but cleverly mapped out, if a little (a lot really!) convoluted. You really do have to suspend belief and just accept the contrived elements. I had begun to sort out the probable ending about half-way through but I was only partly right, so it did keep me guessing right to the very end.
The writing is excellent, good description and dialogue. I think the reader is not supposed to really like any of the main characters - I hope so, because I didn't; but the main character who starts the book as a fairly odious student does really mature into a much more rounded person, warts and all.
It's basically a thriller/mystery, and also it is about passion - sexual passion and to a lesser extent, enduring love. It is mildly to moderately graphic and there is a lot of sex - fine with me but if you listen on the school run...
The ending was a good one for me - not a spoiler, but it was bitter-sweet. I don't know if this book is typical of B Vine but if it is, I'd definitely listen to more. The characters and the atmosphere of the book - brooding, and sad but intriguing - stayed with me after I had finished it and I continued to think about them and the story. In a good way.
80% of the narration is Alex Jennings with two other characters coming in towards the end, both good. Alex Jennings did a fantastic job with his reading and it brought it to life.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I read this book about twenty years ago, and I remembered really enjoying it but not much about the plot twists. I thoroughly enjoyed it the second time around, finding Alex Jennings and Barbara Vine a perfect combination.
The main character, Tim Cornish, has many unappealing traits, but his memoir shows that the man who writes it is different from the man who experienced those events, and hints of a more mature and regretful person show through. Alex Jennings' narration is sublime, with impeccable diction and phrasing. He reads quite quickly but in a wonderfully expressive way that brings all of Tim's emotions to life.
The story takes its time but Vine's writing makes this leisurely journey a real pleasure. Knowing that Tim has done something terrible to his lover Ivo makes Tim's recollections of the progress of their relationship feel full of foreboding. And there are some completely surprising events before the suspenseful conclusion.
I just wish I could revisit all of Barbara Vine's novels with Jennings as narrator.