- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 15 hours and 23 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.com Release Date: August 1, 2010
- Language: English
- ASIN: B003Y5312M
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Blood Doctor Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
This is the first Ruth Rendell book I have not enjoyed at all (most I have loved). I have read every single Rendell/Vine, short stories as well. Had she not been the author, I would have definitely tossed the book after the first fifty pages. It was impossible to keep track of the characters and frankly I never cared about any of the few I could recognize, even later on.
The last fifty pages were tolerable; I finally became interested in seeing where how it was going to end. But it was a struggle. And, after all, the ending was not even believable.
I was very disappointed. Perhaps as an American, (though a serious Anglophile), I find the subject of Hemophilia less than interesting and the workings of the British government unfamiliar and tiresome given Rendell's endless, boring details.
My objection, however is not the subject matter. Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine can write about anything and make it fascinating. In this book nothing works quite right; the plot, the characters, the pacing. I was constantly confused and irritated trying to makes sense of it all, and the family tree did not help. This is not War and Peace. To my mind, Blood Doctor was simply not worth the effort.
This book's structure is complex. The narrator, Martin Nanther, is a contemporary figure, a middle-aged man and a hereditary peer in the waning days of the House of Lords. His wife, Jude, is several years younger, and desires a child above all else. She is going through an agonizing round of miscarriage and loss. Martin is conflicted about whether he wants a child or not. What he does want is to remain married to Jude, and he knows he must accept that her desire to be a mother is all consuming. Martin is also an author, a biographer who has chosen for his next subject his own great-grandfather, Henry Nanther, a physician fascinated by hemophilia and a doctor in residence to Queen Victoria.
Much of the narrative involves Martin Nanther's journey into his grandfather's past as he researches his book. I found the sections describing the Victorians fascinating. The great grandfather was repellent but his story is continually interesting. When the story returns to the contemporary figures I found them almost intrusive and would flip through pages to get back to Henry Nanther's story. Although I think Vine wanted Martin Nanther and his wife to be more sympathetic than the Victorian characters, they actually come off as rather cold and self involved, without the absorbing motivations of their ancestors. I wanted to relate to these folks, but I just couldn't do it. Hence, my four stars, not five.
Even so, this novel is so much better than most of the psychological thrillers that are published today. Vine in second gear is still better than almost anyone else at full throttle. I hope she lives and writes forever.