Didn’t Like It
“Not her best. Read The Chimney Sweep's Son" instead.”see full review » see other reviews »
"Barbara Vine" is a pseudonym of Ruth Rendell, used when she is writing outside of the mystery genre. Grasshopper is, to my mind, one of Rendell's best books, which is saying a great deal.
It is in some ways a charming book, with a genuine romance in it, and even a (fairly) happy ending - not things one normally associates with this writer.
Having said that, though, there is tragedy a-plenty as well. It tells the story of Clodagh (pron "Clo-da"), in her late teens, who leaves her rural home to study in London. Clodagh has survived a terrible accident in which her slightly-younger boyfriend was killed, and for which Clodagh is bitterly blamed. There is a sense of her being banished to London, where she is to live in a flat owned by a distant relative. The slow evolving of what happens to her in London, and the development of Clodagh's character, is beautifully and convincingly done. Without giving away too much of the plot, she falls in with a group of people of similar age, who are living together in a flat at the top of a house in Maida Vale. Their passion is climbing over the roofs of the terrace houses. In doing this, they discover a secret which will eventually bring them all undone, and lead to another tragedy.
The book is cast as a retrospective memoir by a grown-up Clodagh, and is full of backwards and forward references which help to build the tension. "They have sent me here because of what happened on the pylon" is the first sentence of the book, but it takes a long while before we discover what happened in the first tragedy of her life. The later tragedy is foreshadowed repeatedly, but because the narrator is telling this story from a time in her life when we know she is settled and happy, we know that all turns out well in the end.
This is the second time I have listened to this book (beautifully narrated by Emilia Fox), and I thoroughly enjoyed it both times.
“Clodagh Brown's life to date has been less-than-ordinary. From a fateful climb on an electrical pylon with her then-teenaged boyfriend to nights spent scaling the roofs of London's houses and watching the residents inside, she lives (dangerously) for herself, for the moment. When she unexpectedly meets a family in hiding from the law, will she realize it might be time to live, sensibily, for others? If you like Nicci French's tight suspenseful thrillers, you'll love Barbara Vine!”Rockville Library Quick Picks wrote this review Tuesday, August 17, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Not her best. Read The Chimney Sweep's Son" instead.”junco1 d wrote this review Thursday, July 22, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I think this is the first Vine (Rendell) book I've given up on. I checked that I read it but didn't really get past the first few chapters. The main character is an interesting one but the detailed descriptions of her avoiding tunnels, the underground, as well as her beloved pylons are frankly mind-numbingly boring, at least for me. I usually gobble up a Vine book within days. Just couldn't go on with this one.”Ann M wrote this review Saturday, December 12, 2009. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Slow moving, but at the same time, character developing piece. A happy ending where the princess married the prince so to speak, which surprised me since the main character was presented as cautious and remorseful, a girl who was drifting out on the fringe of society, but still mainstream. Vine's writing did draw me into the storyline and compelled me to finish. I listened to the unabridged audiobook version, that was read by a Emilia Fox, whose soft voice and fun accent only added to the pleasure of the story ”Poe Dog6 wrote this review Wednesday, February 18, 2009. ( reply | view 1 replies | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No