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The Child's Child: A Novel [Format Kindle]

Barbara Vine
3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Format Kindle, 4 décembre 2012 EUR 9,00  
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CD, Livre audio EUR 14,12  





Descriptions du produit

Extrait

2

WHILE TEACHING at a university in West London, I had been working for a PhD on a subject with which no one among my family and friends seemed to have any connection: single parents or, in the phrase Toby Greenwell had used, unmarried mothers. As my supervisor remarked after I chose the subject (and she reluctantly approved), it would be a bit absurd in a climate where nearly half of women remain unwed. So “Single Parents.” Such women in English literature was the idea, but I was still asking myself—and Carla, my supervisor—if this should be extended into life. Into reality. Would this make it too much like a social science tract?

When my grandmother died, I had already begun reading every English novel I could find that dealt with illegitimacy or with the mothers of illegitimate children. I was living in a flat in West London that I shared with two other women and a man, a not unusual configuration in overcrowded oughties London. The day before her death I had visited her in hospital, where she had been for just a week. A stroke had incapacitated her without disfiguring her, but she could no longer speak. I held her hand and talked to her. She had been a great reader and knew all those works of Hardy and Elizabeth Gaskell and a host of others that I was reading for my thesis. But when I named them, she gave no sign of having heard, though just before I left I felt a light pressure on her hand from mine. The phone call from my mother came next morning. My grandmother, her mother, had died that night.

She was eighty-five. A good age, as they say. No one ever says “a bad age,” but I suppose that would be mine, twenty-eight, or my brother’s, thirty. We were just the age when people tire of sharing flats with two or three others or crippling themselves with a huge mortgage for two or three rooms, but at the time of our grandmother’s death we could see no end to it. We mourned her. We went to the funeral, both of us in black, I because it is chic, Andrew because as a fashion-conscious gay man, he possessed a slender black suit. My mother wore a grey dress and cried all the time, unusual for her in any circumstances. Next day we heard from her solicitors that my grandmother had left her house in Hampstead jointly to my brother and me.

I have been honest about why we wore black, so I may as well keep up the honesty and say we expected something. Verity Stewart—we had always called her Verity—had a son and a daughter to leave her considerable fortune to (and she did leave it to them), but as we were the only grandchildren, I thought we might get a bit each, enough, say, to help with getting on what’s called the property ladder. Instead we got the property itself, a fine big house near the Heath.

Fay, my mother, and her partner, Malcolm, expected us to do the sensible thing, the practical thing: sell it and divide the proceeds. Instead, we did the unwise thing and kept it. Surely a house with four living-rooms, six bedrooms, and three bathrooms (and about three thousand books) was big enough for a man and a woman who had always got on with each other. We failed to take into account that there was only one kitchen, one staircase, and one front door, congratulating each other that neither of us played loud music or was likely to have a party to which the other was not invited. There was one thing we never thought about, though why not I don’t know. We were both young, and if we had none now, each had had several partners, and one of us, perhaps both, was likely to have a lover living in.

In Andrew’s case that happened quite soon after we moved in.

James Derain is a novelist, his books published by Andrew’s firm, as were Martin Greenwell’s, which is how Andrew knew about Martin’s literary output. They met at a publisher’s party. The occasion can’t have been the anniversary of Oscar Wilde’s birth or, come to that, his death, it was too late for that, but it was something to do with Wilde, a hero of James Derain’s. At that party James told Andrew about Martin Greenwell and a book he’d written but never published that was based on the life of James’s uncle or great-uncle. That party was the start of their friendship. It led to a relationship—and soon, a falling in love, which they celebrated with a trip to Paris for the weekend. They went to look at Wilde’s newly refurbished tomb. It had been restored to Epstein’s original pristine whiteness before its surface was damaged by the lipstick of all the women who came to kiss it over the years. Who would have supposed lipstick could scar marble? Andrew was happy about the lip imprints, saying it almost made up for all the women who spat at Wilde in the street after his downfall.

Andrew and I had made a rough division of the house, the rooms on the left-hand side, upstairs and down, mine, and those on the right, his. That was all very well, I got one bathroom, he got two; I got three bedrooms and Verity’s study, he got my grandfather Christopher’s study and three bedrooms. But we had to share the kitchen, which was enormous, and on my side of the house.

“How many places have you lived in,” Andrew asked, “where you’ve had to share the kitchen with two or three other people?”

I thought about it, tried counting. “Four. It seems different in a place this size.”

“Let’s give it a go. If we can’t stand it, we’ll have another kitchen put in.”

It didn’t much concern me. The house was marvellous to live in—in those first weeks—and like my grandmother I spent most of my time blissfully reading. It was spring and warm and I sat reading out in the garden, comfortable in a cane chair with a stack of books on the table in front of me, all of them fictional accounts of unwanted pregnancies and illegitimate births. Sometimes I raised my eyes to “look upon verdure,” as Jane Austen has it. Only one such birth in her works, only one “natural child,” and that one Harriet Smith, for whom Emma attempts the hopeless task of encouraging a clergyman, and therefore a gentleman, to marry her. Harriet may be the daughter of a gentleman, but somehow her illegitimacy negates that and makes her fit to marry a farmer but no one higher up the social scale.

One book I didn’t look at was The Child’s Child, and I wasn’t conscience-stricken, not then, though I did mention it to Andrew, who came out into the garden before going to work. He hadn’t exactly forgotten about the book but seemed to drag it up out of the depths of memory before light dawned.

“It’s been lying in a cupboard for half a century,” he said. “No harm done if it hangs about for a bit longer.”

Something happened that afternoon which was to have great importance in my life, as much as it has had in Andrew’s. I met James Derain.

Revue de presse

Probably the greatest living crime writer in the world (Ian Rankin)

Cracking stuff. The Vine continues to flourish . . . (A) miracle of storytelling with her customary aplomb and cool composure (Express on THE CHILD's CHILD)

Vine is not afraid to walk down the mean streets of the mind and can build up an almost tangible atmosphere of menace and unease (Daily Telegraph)

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 3523 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 337 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 1476704279
  • Editeur : Scribner (4 décembre 2012)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B007HACCC0
  • Synthèse vocale : Non activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°46.904 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Commentaires en ligne

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Commentaires client les plus utiles
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Boring 10 novembre 2013
Par FRANOPEY
Format:Format Kindle
I am really disappointed by this book. I have not found the queer atmosphere peculiar to Barbara Vine 's previous books. What a shame !
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Amazon.com: 3.3 étoiles sur 5  117 commentaires
35 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The devil's candy... 8 décembre 2012
Par Alyssa Donati - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
First let me say I have read all of Rendell's novels in addition to her works as Barbara Vine and this is my favorite Vine novel so far. It did not grip me instantly as some of her other books did but within a few chapters I was utterly absorbed and hopelessly addicted. The Child's Child begins in modern day and is told in the first person by a young woman named Grace who finds herself in a very compromising situation. (I will not reveal anything however, I will say the dilemma she finds herself in is quite shocking and completely unexpected.) We do not stay with Grace's character for long since Vine abandons her after page 69 to begin another novel entitled The Child's Child. This novel is set in 1929 and is told in the third person. We eventually return to Grace but the novel within the novel is basically the entire book and it is fiercely riveting and maddeningly good. Once again, Barbara Vine has churned out another intricately woven, wildly suspenseful tale, crammed chock-full of deliciously complex and extraordinarily visceral characters.

The Child's Child boils over with intrigue and taught psychological suspense (one of the things I've always adored about rendell/vine's writing). This is not a cheery story as its main focus are individuals who are in danger of being ostracized or even driven to self destruction because of society's inability to tolerate or condone their circumstances or predilections. Rendell often makes stunning analogies and in this case it's between the plight of a young unwed pregnant woman and her tormented homosexual brother. Both are in startlingly different yet similar positions and Vine jolts them to life with fresh vivid prose and then careens back to the 21st century to ensnare their stories with Grace's. This book could have been tedious or maudlin or even too clinical considering the subject matter but the author is so adept at pumping blood into her characters while simultaneously dismembering them. She tears them apart so kindly, so gently, like a stealthy surgeon she reaches in, revealing scars, revealing raw nerves, dead dreams and all too often, a shattered leaking heart.

This new novel contains some of Vine's most memorable and compelling characters -- characters thrown to the devil, characters who erupt before your eyes, and at times I had to pause while reading, for I was overcome with emotion for these ill-fated phantoms as they went on searching for salvation in a wicked, wicked world.
9 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 "We live in an entirely different climate of morality." 6 décembre 2012
Par E. Bukowsky - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Ruth Rendell (as Barbara Vine) explores some of the ways in which social mores and standards have changed in "The Child's Child." The book begins in 2011, with twenty-eight year old Grace Easton, a university lecturer who is preparing to write her thesis, as the first-person narrator. A retired architect named Toby Greenwell asks Grace to read an unpublished manuscript written by his late father, Martin Greenwell. Meanwhile, Grace's grandmother dies, and Grace and her thirty-year-old brother, Andrew, inherit a large home in Hampstead. The two siblings decide not to sell the property. Instead, they move in together; each plans to live in half of the house. When Andrew's lover, James Derain, enters the picture, unanticipated complications threaten to wreck the siblings' hitherto close relationship.

As a counterpoint to this plot, Grace picks up Martin Greenwell's work of fiction, which begins in 1929. Fifteen-year-old Maud Goodwin has a liaison with a local boy and becomes pregnant. Her gay brother, John, devises a harebrained scheme to remove his disgraced sister from their hidebound and cruelly judgmental parents, but it involves living a lie. To complicate matters, John is besotted with Bertie, a low-class but attractive young man. Although John is determined to break off the affair, his passion for Bertie trumps reason.

Rendell effectively juxtaposes the two tales, driving home an obvious conclusion: although many individuals still condemn homosexuals and unwed mothers, the ostracism these days is not as drastic as it was sixty or seventy years ago. In the early twentieth century, men loving men was not only frowned upon, but in England, it was considered a punishable offense. Unmarried expectant mothers from "decent" families often went into hiding until their babies were born; they were usually forced to give their infants up for adoption. Maud is a precocious schoolgirl, but in many ways she is naïve and unsophisticated. Circumstances force her to grow up quickly. Her bitterness towards her parents, isolation from society, and the deception that she must practice in order to keep up appearances take a heavy toll. John is a tragic figure who is protective of Maud, but his love for Bertie blinds him to common sense.

"The Child's Child" is compelling, but Rendell hits some discordant notes. The author's condemnation of narrow-mindedness and bigotry is at times heavy-handed. She depicts Maud's parents, sisters, and friends as such one-dimensional prigs that they scarcely seem human. In addition, John is so naive and his behavior so foolish that we long to shake some sense into him. In spite of the novel's obvious flaws, Rendell holds our attention, maintains suspense, and earns our sympathy for men and women who are hurt and/or destroyed by their failure to conform to society's expectations. Comment | Permalink
13 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 "Did they look down on her because of her ruined reputation?" 4 décembre 2012
Par Luan Gaines - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Two arrangements, years apart, illustrate the changed relationship of two siblings, the perils of same-sex attraction and the plight of unwed mothers at the mercy of society in this dual drama, the action in the first part mimicking the events in an unpublished novel read by one of the characters. Unpublished, The Child's Child is offered to Grace Easton for her critique as she works on her thesis. Grace is sharing a large London home inherited from her grandmother with her brother, Andrew. The siblings literally split their quarters down the middle, Andrew working each day, Grace engaged in research on the treatment of unwed mothers in English literature. Their joint tenancy is quite successful until Andrew invites his boyfriend, James Derain, a novelist, to move in, upsetting the household's delicate balance. Here fate intervenes, Andrew and James witnessing a brutal murder, the relationship of brother and sister further complicated by an unfortunate incident with profound repercussions. Like Grace's copy of The Child's Child, violence is part of the unfolding drama.

The unpublished novel, The Child's Child, written in 1951, describes events begun in London in 1929, with the adverse reaction of her family to fifteen-year-old Maud Goodwin's status as an unwed mother. Only Maud's older brother, John offers a solution to the dilemma, brother and sister taking up residence near John's place of employment some distance away. Grateful to escape her parents' judgment, Maud accepts her limited options, but soon enough finds reason to complain about John's close relationship with his London friend, Bertie Webber. Maud is appalled by John's infatuation with Bertie, ignoring the great sacrifice her brother has made on her behalf. Though John is a sensitive, honorable man, Bertie is not. Nor is Maud a likeable person, misshapen by her circumstances, grown small of mind in her solitude. This triangle as well ends in violence, but it is the changing mores of society that speaks loudly through the years in this novel penned by Ruth Rendell under the pseudonym of Barbara Vine.

Vine devotes a majority of the novel to the story-within-a-story, returning to Grace, Andrew and James as they deal with the consequences of a terrible lapse in judgment. But it is the unhappy Maud who lingers after the final page, her conscientious brother a victim of his generosity and inability to break from a faithless lover. A rigid society formed Maud's response to her situation and to the perception of John as unnatural. Human nature, predictably, repeats itself. Ironically, as the novel illustrates, society still lags behind those who seek equality and freedom from discrimination, the habits of generations not easily disassembled. Luan Gaines/2012.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 And a three may be generous. 7 janvier 2013
Par S. Schwartz - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
I am a long time super fan of Ruth Rendell, especially when she writes as Barbara Vine. I was so excited we were going to get another Barbara Vine novel because it's been a long time since we've had one, but this book was a disappointment. The biggest downfall for me was that I couldn't identify with any of the characters-both past and present. The book is set in two timeframes-present day and the late 19430's and early 1940's. The past part of the book is by far the biggest percentage of this novel, and it is brought out by an old unpublished novel that a present-day woman is asked to read. Grace is the name of the present-day character and she lives with her gay brother Andrew. Their two worlds collide when Andrew brings a new love interest home. As Grace tries to deal with the fallout from the introduction of James to her world, she begins to read an old unpublished manuscript that seems to be a mirror image of her and her brother's life. I think that Ms. Rendell's purpose with this book is to show that though we think our society's attitudes and political acceptances have changed in the last 60 or so years, they really haven't changed that much at all. We are still dealing with the same stigmas and moralality issues even this much later. But the book fell short for me in tension buildup and charactar identification. I just did not like any of these characters and really could have cared less what happened to them. So I am disappointed with this story.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Two Stories: One Four Stars, One Zero 1 août 2013
Par Catriona White - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This is really an odd book. I've read a couple of Ruth Rendell's books--she's never been a favorite author of mine, but I've enjoyed some of them. But this book is just odd. If you've read the other reviews, by now you know that there are two stories, one set in contemporary times, one back in the 1920s through post WW II Britain. The first story just seems a bit improbable and contrived, not really all that shocking, and the author abandons it rather abruptly to begin the older story. That second story is much better! Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendall really hits her stride here, and I found myself staying up late and turning the pages. The only criticism I have of this story is that the character of Maud is rather one-dimensional: it's hard to believe anyone being that consistently negative and bitter, that entirely without self-awareness. This second story, fortunately, takes up most of the book. When it's done, we return to the first story almost as an afterthought. Thankfully, it comes to a quick conclusion that still feels quite contrived. I really don't see the point of this book. IMO, the author would have been better off just writing the book she clearly enjoyed writing: story #2. It's hard to give a rating to this book, which is the reason for my title of this review: zero stars for the first one and four stars for the second one. Guess I'll have to compromise on three.
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