Page Updated: 08/10/98
Barbara Vine
Barbara Vine
A Profile of Ruth Rendell by Val McDermid
Writing as Ruth Rendell
About the Author
The Chimney Sweeper's BoyThe Chimney Sweeper's Boy
The Brimstone WeddingThe Brimstone Wedding
Asta's BookAsta's Book
A Fatal InversionA Fatal Inversion

Audio Tape - Penguin Audio (1998)

The Chimney Sweeper's Boy
See Review by Liz Lees
Read by Michael Williams
When successful author Gerald Candless dies of a sudden heart attack, his eldest daughter Sarah embarks on a memoir of him and soon begins to unearth a dark secret …
At some point in his life her father had taken on a completely different identity ... in fact he wasn't Gerald Candless at all. But then who was he! And what had driven him to conceal his real identity?
Barbara Vine interweaves past and present, fiction and reality, in her extraordinarily rich novel, which has at its centre a compelling mystery.
Michael Williams spent fourteen years with the Royal Shakespeare Company and has appeared in many theatrical productions since that time. His many television appearances include Elizabeth R, A Fine Romance, September Song and A Dance to the Music of Time. Among his film roles are Educating Rita and Henry V.
Abridged by Neville Teller
Produced by Jigga Dunn
Running time approx. 3 hours.
Barbara Vine is Ruth Rendell, the award-winning crime novelist and creator of Inspector Wexford. Her novels A Fatal Inversion, Gallowglass and A Dark-Adapted Eye, written under the name Barbara Vine, have been successfully televised. Ruth Rendell is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 1991 she was awarded the Crime Writers' Association Diamond Dagger for a lifetime's achievement in crime writing. In 1997 she was created a life peer and took the title Baroness Rendell of Babergh.

First British Edition - Viking (1996)

The Brimstone Wedding
See Review by Val McDermid
"The clothes of the dead won't wear long. They fret for the person who owned them"
Unlike the other residents of Middleton Hall, Stella is smart and elegant and in control. She keeps her secrets to herself, revealing nothing of her past. Only Jenny, her young care assistant, seems aware that her heart harbours a dark, painful mystery. And only she can prevent Stella from carrying it to the grave.
As the women talk, Jenny slowly pieces together the answers to many questions that arise. Why does Stella seem so afraid of driving? Why has she kept possession of a house that not even her children know about? What happened there that holds the key to a distant tragedy?
As Jenny uses the house to meet her lover, she discovers untouched items - a painting, a burnt dress, a decaying car. But only when Stella leaves Jenny her tape recorder, into which she has recounted the true events of the past, can the truth be finally - and shockingly - revealed. In this gripping mystery, in which past and present are skilfully interwoven, Barbara Vine demonstrates once again her masterly control of both character and narrative.

First British Edition - Viking (1993)

Asta's Book
Barbara Vine's triumphantly gripping tale spans three generations, from early beginnings in the East End to present - day London.
It is 1905, Asta and Ramus have come to Hackney from Denmark with their two little boys. While Ramus travels abroad on business, Asta keeps her loneliness and isolation at bay by writing her diary in this strange house in a strange land.
These diaries, published over seventy years later, will, uncover the truth of an unsolved crime and much else besides.
As Asta's granddaughter reads the diaries they reveal to her the unknown facets of the woman she thought she knew. Passing reference is made to a Mrs Roper, who lived near Asta in east London. Coincidentally, a documentary film is underway about an unsolved murder from the turn of the century - that of Lizzie Roper - and the subsequent disappearance of her daughter. Will this fragmentary evidence throw light on one of the century's most notorious trials and even solve another puzzle: who was Asta's daughter Swanny and what was the mystery of her background?

'The plot thickens, as only a Barbara Vine plot can ... This is an engrossing double-detective story, a mixture of biography, true crime and romance peopled with vivid minor players and red with herrings' - Shena Mackay Independent on Sunday
'Obsessively readable. The invention is as fertile, the clues as cunning, the solution as logical as in all the books by Barbara Vine' - Jessica Mann Sunday Telegraph
'Barbara Vine has once again done her readers proud ... for a good, absorbing, well-told story, you could hardly better the unveiling of Asta's secret' - Miranda Seymour Sunday Times
'Seductive and fathomless, it sets its puzzles and keeps its secrets up to and beyond the final page. Essential reading' - Philip Oakes Literary Review

"The Prince," said Sandor to Little Joe, "was an old man when our story begins."
"Sandor is good, even excellent, at story-telling. Sandor is wonderful, too; dark, thick short hair, with marvellous hands, long and thin, like a woman's - a great smile. Once you've seen Sandor, no one else will do." Little Joe - loving, eager to please and learn - is ready to listen. The power of the educated over the simple is horribly clear in this disturbing and unusual relationship.
As Sandor's motivation - both for rescuing Little Joe and then for weaving his spell of words - becomes clear, the darkness surrounding him is too much for them both and for the beautiful ex-model sequestered in her Suffolk mansion by an obsessive husband. Barbara Vine shows us the world as it is, and also through her writing we sense how it might be; her powerful moral vision, while showing us the worst, gives us back a knowledge of how to act for the right.

"The writer brilliantly evokes the eerie quality of conventional life when it is invaded by uncontrollable passion - the inconceivability yet also the inevitability of murder among 'People like ourselves'" - Robertson Davies (of A Dark-Adapted Eye)
"Remarkable.... The House of Stairs will confirm [Barbara Vine's] reputation as one of the best novelists writing today" P.D.James

First British Edition - Viking (1987)

A Fatal Inversion
In the long hot summer of 1976, a group of young people are camping in Wyvis Hall. Adam, Rufus, Shiva, Vivien and Zosie hardly ask why they are there, what they are doing or how they are to live: they scavenge, steal and sell the family heirlooms. In short, they exist. ten years later, the bodies of a woman and a child are discovered in the Hall's animal cemetery. Which woman? Whose child?
A Fatal Inversion was winner of the 1987 Crime Writer's Gold Dagger Award.

"In Rendell at her peak, as this book is, foreboding deters us from turning the page, while he urge to know what comes next forces us to do so. What comes last is a truly devastating pay-off" The Listener
About The Author
Barbara Vine is Ruth Rendell, the best-selling crime novelist and author of the much loved "Wexford" mysteries.
Writing as Barbara Vine, she has won numerous awards: A Dark Adapted Eye received huge critical acclaim and was an Edgar Award Winner, A Fatal Inversion won the Crime Writer's Association Gold Dagger Award for 1987 and King Solomon's Carpet won the 1992 Crime Writer's Association Gold Dagger Award.
Her novels A Fatal Inversion, Gallowglass and A Dark-Adapted Eye have been successfully televised. Ruth Rendell is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 1991 she was awarded the Crime Writers' Association Diamond Dagger for a lifetime's achievement in crime writing. In 1997 she was created a life peer and took the title Baroness Rendell of Babergh.
Ruth Rendell lives in Suffolk.


N.B. dates and publishers in dark red indicate British First Editions. Dates and publishers in black indicate recent reprints.

  • The Chimney Sweeper's Boy (Viking, 1998) Viking Mar 98
  • The Chimney Sweeper's Boy (Penguin Audio, 1998)
  • The Brimstone Wedding (Viking, 1996)
  • No Night is Too Long (Viking, 1994)
  • Asta's Book (Viking, 1993)
  • King Soloman's Carpet (Viking, 1991)
  • Gallowglass (Viking, 1990)
  • The House of Stairs (Viking, 1989)
  • A Fatal Inversion (Viking, 1987)
  • The Dark-Adapted Eye (Viking, 1986)

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