Novels Barbara Vine The Child's Child

ISBN 13: 9780241963579

The Child's Child

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9780241963579: The Child's Child

When their grandmother dies, Grace and Andrew Easton inherit her sprawling, book-filled London home, Dinmont House. Rather than sell it, the adult siblings move in together, splitting the numerous bedrooms and studies. The arrangement is unusual, but ideal for the affectionate pair — until the day Andrew brings home a new boyfriend. A devilishly handsome novelist, James Derain resembles Cary Grant, but his strident comments about Grace’s doctoral thesis soon puncture the house’s idyllic atmosphere. When he and Andrew witness their friend’s murder outside a London nightclub, James begins to unravel, and what happens next will change the lives of everyone in the house. Just as turmoil sets in at Dinmont House, Grace escapes into reading a manuscript — a long-lost novel from 1951 called The Child’s Child — never published because of its frank depictions of an unwed mother and a homosexual relationship. The book is the story of two siblings born a few years after World War One. This brother and sister, John and Maud, mirror the present-day Andrew and Grace: a homosexual brother and a sister carrying an illegitimate child. Acts of violence and sex will reverberate through their stories. The Child’s Child is an enormously clever, brilliantly constructed novel-within-a-novel about family, betrayal, and disgrace. A master of psychological suspense, Ruth Rendell, in her newest work under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, takes us where violence and social taboos collide. She shows how society’s treatment of those it once considered undesirable has changed — and how sometimes it hasn’t.

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About the Author:

Ruth Rendell, writing here as Barbara Vine, has won three Edgar Awards, the highest accolade from Mystery Writers of America, as well as four Gold Daggers and a Diamond Dagger for outstanding contribution to the genre from England’s prestigious Crime Writers’ Association. Her remarkable career has spanned more than forty years, with more than sixty books published. A member of the House of Lords, she lives in London.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1

THE BOOK was on the table in front of us, along with the teapot, the two cups, and a plate of mince pies. It was a book and not the manuscript I expected and, if I’m honest, feared.

“Privately printed, as you see,” Toby Greenwell said.

“Your father had that done himself?”

“Oh, yes.”

He picked it up and handed it to me. Like many such books, it had no jacket but a shiny cover with a picture of a young girl with pigtails and wearing a gymslip. She was standing in a green meadow and the title of the novel had been amateurishly done in black letters by someone who was no expert in the art of Times Roman.

“When we spoke,” I said, “you told me your father had mentioned this book to you but you never saw it till after he and your mother were dead. He was quite a distinguished novelist. He’d had—how many books published?”

“Twelve. They weren’t bestsellers but they were—well, I think ‘widely acclaimed’ would be the phrase, don’t you?”

Toby is not a writer himself and never has been. He is an architect, retired now, and living with his wife and the one remaining child still at home in a house he designed himself in the Surrey hills. We met in the Highgate house he’d inherited from his mother six months before, Victorian Gothic and not much admired by him, though he grew up there. Martin and Edith Greenwell lived there from sometime in the 1930s, a few years before Toby was born, until Martin and then Edith died. It was there, while going through the contents of the house, all of which now belonged to Toby, that in a bookcase in Martin’s study he found the privately printed novel. I asked him if he could remember what his father had said about The Child’s Child and the reasons he gave for its having never been published.

“My dad told me the title,” Toby said, “and that’s how I knew what it was. He hadn’t said he’d had it printed and bound and—well, as you see it now. I was surprised to say the least. Less so when I remembered what he’d told me about it. You have to know that my mother was quite vehemently opposed to any attempts to have it published. I know that from him, not her. Apparently, she would never discuss it.”

I asked Toby if he had spoken to her about it.

“Oh, yes. After he was dead. I didn’t know about the bound book then. I thought it was somewhere among his papers in manuscript. My mother’s comments were memorable, to say the least. Perhaps you have to remember that she was born in the last years of the First World War, which made her very old when we spoke about the book.”

“What did she say?”

“That she had read it but was too disgusted to finish it. I think it was partly the fact that it was a true story or based on a true story, someone my father knew. If it were published, none of the people they knew would speak to them again, but she was sure no one would publish it. And she was right. He did try with the company that your brother works for—they had published all his previous books, there were nine by then—and his editor suggested he make certain changes. The character of Bertie could be made into a woman, for instance. Maud might be three years older than she is in the novel. But it was the homosexual element that they objected to. This was 1951, sixteen years before the act that made homosexual activity between consenting adults in private legal became law.”

“I take it your father didn’t agree to modify the book?”

“No, and when you read it, you can see why he wouldn’t. I’m no literary critic, but I can see that you have to try and get into the sort of climate that existed then to understand perhaps why he wanted to write it and why he wouldn’t change it. Hence, private printing. You see, it was not only about getting understanding for homosexuals that he was very keen on, but also about changing the attitude to illegitimacy and what he called ‘unmarried mothers.’ What would you call them now?”

That made me smile. Toby had his naïve moments. “ ‘Single parents,’ I should think.”

“But that’s fathers as well.”

“I know. It’s called equality. It’s also called political correctness.”

“Anyway, that’s the other theme of the novel. Would ‘theme’ be the word?”

“I expect so,” I said. “Why not?”

“One theme then is the injustice with which gay people were treated in the thirties and forties and the other the injustice with which—er, single parents and their offspring were treated. There’s a brother who’s gay—that’s the man my father knew—and his sister who has an illegitimate baby—”

I interrupted him, “Don’t go on. Let me read it.” I had another glance at the book before putting it in my bag. “I’m not an agent, you know. Well, you do know. You know I’m a university lecturer, working for a PhD that happens to be more or less about one of the themes in this book.”

“As you know, it was your brother who suggested you might be the right person to read it. I thought he’d read it, but as he reminded me, though he’s in publishing, it’s in marketing, not editorial.” Toby spoke almost humbly. “I just want you to tell me if you think it will find a publisher. I think I listened to my mother too much and I still hear in my head the things she said.”

I said that of course I would read it, but it might take me a bit of time.

“I think my dad would have liked you to look at it. He wanted it published, but as it stands, not expurgated, not neutralised to suit a narrow-minded readership.”

“I’m not sure that narrow-minded is the term,” I said. “They were of their time. They were the society of the day. Whatever I think of your father’s book, I can guarantee no one is going to want to expurgate it. We live in an entirely different climate of morality and sexual behaviour, a whole world of difference.” I looked at him, guessing that he was thinking of his mother’s disapproval. “As you know, young people today, many of them or even most of them, wouldn’t understand what you and I have been talking about.”

“That’s true. My own children wouldn’t.” In a burst of confidence, he said, “My mother is dead. It couldn’t have been published during her lifetime, but it could now. I keep telling myself that and feeling more and more guilty about what I’m doing.”

“Time enough to feel guilty if and when it’s published. Let me read it.”

I took The Child’s Child home with me, where my grandmother had all twelve of Martin Greenwell’s novels in hardcover. They were first editions, all with their original jackets, each one a little work of art and all a world away in taste and design from the pigtailed child in the green field. I looked inside, but of course The Child’s Child wasn’t listed among Greenwell’s previous works. It occurred to me then that a friend’s mother had once told me how she’d smuggled a copy of Henry Miller’s Sexus through customs when coming home by sea from France sometime in the 1950s. A world away from today’s contraband, when it would be drugs, not a book.

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Barbara Vine
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ISBN 10: 0241963575 ISBN 13: 9780241963579
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Descripción Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2014. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. When Grace and her brother Andrew inherit their grandmother s house in Hampstead, they decide to move in together. It seems the obvious thing to do: they ve always got on well, the house is large enough to split down the middle, and neither of them likes partying or loud music. There s one thing they ve forgotten though: what if one of them wants to bring a lover into the house? When Andrew s partner James moves in, it alters the balance - with almost fatal consequences. The Child s Child is an intriguing examination of betrayal in a family, and of those two once-unmentionable subjects, illegitimacy and homosexuality. Nº de ref. de la librería APG9780241963579

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Descripción Penguin Books Ltd, United Kingdom, 2014. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. When Grace and her brother Andrew inherit their grandmother s house in Hampstead, they decide to move in together. It seems the obvious thing to do: they ve always got on well, the house is large enough to split down the middle, and neither of them likes partying or loud music. There s one thing they ve forgotten though: what if one of them wants to bring a lover into the house? When Andrew s partner James moves in, it alters the balance - with almost fatal consequences. The Child s Child is an intriguing examination of betrayal in a family, and of those two once-unmentionable subjects, illegitimacy and homosexuality. Nº de ref. de la librería APG9780241963579

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Descripción Penguin Books Ltd, 2014. Estado de conservación: New. When Grace and her brother Andrew inherit their grandmother's house in Hampstead, they decide to move in together. They've always got on well, the house is large enough to split down the middle, and neither of them likes partying or loud music. There's one thing they've forgotten though: what if one of them wants to bring a lover into the house? Num Pages: 288 pages. BIC Classification: FA; FF. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 198 x 129 x 22. Weight in Grams: 270. . 2014. Paperback. . . . . . Nº de ref. de la librería V9780241963579

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Descripción Penguin Books Ltd. Estado de conservación: New. When Grace and her brother Andrew inherit their grandmother's house in Hampstead, they decide to move in together. They've always got on well, the house is large enough to split down the middle, and neither of them likes partying or loud music. There's one thing they've forgotten though: what if one of them wants to bring a lover into the house? Num Pages: 288 pages. BIC Classification: FA; FF. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 198 x 129 x 22. Weight in Grams: 270. . 2014. Paperback. . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Nº de ref. de la librería V9780241963579

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Descripción Penguin Books Ltd. Paperback. Estado de conservación: new. BRAND NEW, The Child's Child, Barbara Vine, When Grace and her brother Andrew inherit their grandmother's house in Hampstead, they decide to move in together. It seems the obvious thing to do: they've always got on well, the house is large enough to split down the middle, and neither of them likes partying or loud music. There's one thing they've forgotten though: what if one of them wants to bring a lover into the house? When Andrew's partner James moves in, it alters the balance - with almost fatal consequences. The Child's Child is an intriguing examination of betrayal in a family, and of those two once-unmentionable subjects, illegitimacy and homosexuality. Nº de ref. de la librería B9780241963579

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