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The Chimney Sweeper's Boy Hardcover – May 26, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony (May 26, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 060960287X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609602874
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.7 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,034,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Writing as Ruth Rendell, Barbara Vine has earned the Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement. In The Chimney Sweeper's Boy, Vine proves herself the equal of her alter ego and a master of the psychological thriller--as well as the police procedural--in this riveting novel. Why bestselling novelist Gerald Candless assumed a new identity years before his marriage and the birth of his two daughters isn't revealed until the penultimate chapter of the book, but the effect of his deception on his family drives Vine's deft character studies. In Gerald's wife, Ursula, and his daughters, Hope and Sarah, Vine has created three complex women in the thrall of an equally complicated and compelling man. As Sarah unravels the mystery of her father's deception, Gerald gradually becomes a more sympathetic figure. But Ursula, whose strange marital bargain with Gerald and whose distant relationship with her daughters tug at the heart, stays with the reader long after this distinguished, literary mystery is finished. --Jane Adams

From Library Journal

Michael Williams reads popular author Vine's (No Night Is Too Long, Audio Reviews, LJ 4/15/95) compelling tale in a gently affecting manner. Gerald Candless played only two roles in life: best-selling author and doting father. Or did he? Commissioned to write a personal biography of her famous father, Sarah Candless discovers that the real Gerald died at age seven. Who was the man she called Father and how did he turn into a cold, emotional isolate who cared only for his daughters? A few incidental characters and episodes seem out of place, probably due to abridgment, but this is a minor quibble. Overall, this is an entertaining listening experience in the low-violence mystery/suspense genre. Recommended for all libraries.?I. Pour-El, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Joel Jacobsen on March 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
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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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Billy J. Hobbs VINE VOICE on June 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mysteri Reader on January 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
I discovered Barbara Vine through this book while living in Hampstead this summer, a location that is featured in many of her other books. It was so compelling that having recently completed about 10 of her Barbara Vine novels (which I believe are superior to the Ruth Rendell novels by the same author), I read this book again. It is truly fascinating, and a total page-turner, stay-up-late-until-you-finish it experience. Having read almost all of her novels now, I think it holds up as one of the best. She writes almost cinematically, although the flashbacks would make it hard to transfer to the big screen. Her characters (even Gerald, who is primarily described through his disillusioned wife) is made to be sympathetic in the end. I highly recommend this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By hawthorne wood on March 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
Yes, as the reviewer from Richmond, Virginia has mentioned, the book doesn't live up to its promise. But the sharp character studies, most especially Ursula, the wronged wife, are remarkable. I also enjoyed the titillating sexual love affair between Sarah and her sadistic boy-toy. By the end, however, I was terribly disappointed; I felt the book came to an abrupt halt, as if the publisher had given the author an ultimatum on how many pages they could publish. She set up some very tragic lives, and I wanted her to give them at least a parcel of resolution. I wanted a reaction from the two spoiled daughters when they learned the truth about their doting, proprietary father and to know that the light dawned in Ursula's mind and when she realized that Gerald had deliberately tried to make her believe that she was the problem in their marriage. And I wanted the girls to have, at least, an inkling of what their father had done to their mother. It was amazing, the damage his lies did to them all, including the girls. He basically stole them from their mother, and raised them to be empty, self-centered, vain, snobbish and cold. I hated Gerald Candless. What a rotten s.o.b. I wonder if Ms. vine modeled him after some insufferable, publicly-lionized British author or other celebrity she scorns. Though I was let down by the book's uneventful ending, I will continue to seek out her work. Compared to many contemporary writers, she does attempt to engage her readers in a deliciously entertaining manner - and with great writing to boot.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 17, 1998
Format: Hardcover
It's no secret that Barbara Vine and Ruth Rendell are one in the same. Rendell writes police procedurals under her own name, while using the Vine pseudonym for novels more psychological and less police-driven. Her books are novels rather than mysteries-character-rich and plot-complex, surprising, and often haunting.
"The Chimney Sweeper's Boy" is her best Barbara Vine book since the remarkable "No Night is Too Long." Barely into the story, Gerald Candless, a writer both critically acclaimed and popular, dies at the age of 71. Vine has already deftly revealed his family-the detached wife, the adoring, unkind daughters and Candless himself as unfeeling and even cruel. They've invited guests to lunch, treat them with indifference and get them to play a parlor game, the only point of which seems to be to mock those not part of their inner circle. When Candless dies, his daughter Sarah is asked by his publisher to write a biography of her father. Almost immediately, Sarah discovers that her father was not what he seemed-in fact, his name wasn't even Gerald Candless. But who was he? How does she find out, and does this self-centered woman who reveled in her father's love really want to find out?
As in "Simisola," the Ruth Rendell book where the source of the title was not revealed until the very end, "The Chimney Sweeper's Boy" uses an interesting narrative process to unroll the story. How she tucks the ends of the story together will both intrigue and satisfy readers, although she wisely knows that no story should give all the answers.
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