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The Chimney Sweeper's Boy (1998)

by Barbara Vine

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9021917,007 (3.55)40
An Englishwoman writing a biography of her father, a famous novelist, discovers that as a young man he changed names, taking the name of a boy who died in infancy. She goes looking for the reason and discovers murder.
  1. 00
    The Real Life of Sebastian Knight by Vladimir Nabokov (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: In both novels a biographer learns about his subject by reading his novels.
  2. 00
    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (passion4reading)
    passion4reading: Though covering slightly different time periods, each novel explores the discovery of long-held family secrets by a biographer; coincidentally, both characters at the heart of the mystery are authors.
  3. 00
    After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These character-driven and leisurely paced psychological novels derive their suspense as much from the relationships and characters as from the murderous events at the heart of their mysteries. They are intricately plotted, compelling, and mesmerizing.… (more)
  4. 01
    Asta's Book by Barbara Vine (alcottacre)

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» See also 40 mentions

English (18)  French (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
This was an interesting book about a woman who realized that her late father was not the one he pretended to be. She made inquiries and found that her father took on the identity of a deceased person. During her search, she not only found a new family but also the secret of her father, who had written much of it in his books without anyone noticing. She plunged into different worlds, including the homosexual scene.
I liked the book well. ( )
  Ameise1 | Apr 30, 2018 |
Excerpts from my original review on GR (Nov 2010):
- 1998 thriller-mystery by Barbara Vine, a pseudonym for Ruth Rendell.
- ...the author's Vine books, in her words, have "deeper characters", and feature "accidental deaths or societal pressures", rather than murder.
- This story begins with the sudden death of a famous British author, and then takes flight with a daughter's research toward writing a memoir of his life. An engaging mystery, good atmosphere and character development. Literary enough for my liking. Imaginative, and a clever ending. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Jan 18, 2018 |
Barbara Vine
  Marjoles | Sep 25, 2017 |
After the sudden death of the well-known author Gerald Candless, his elder daughter is persuaded to write a biography of her beloved father. When she uncovers amid her researches that her father was not who he had claimed to be, that he wasn't in fact called Gerald Candless at all, the results have dramatic and far-reaching repercussions.

Making an unusual departure from the crime fiction genre, Ruth Rendell (writing as Barbara Vine) has written a deeply unsettling portrait of family life, populated by memorable but mostly unsympathetic characters; as Jean-Paul Sartre once said: 'Hell is other people.' Her sense of observation and psychological insights are acute and I emotionally winced more than once on behalf of a character after she had metaphorically stabbed them with her pen. Don't expect a lot of action here: the plot is almost entirely character driven and the pace is slow, enabling each character, especially Ursula, to tell their story. I enjoyed the family history angle of the mystery but did feel that the novel could have been around 30 to 50 pages shorter, without losing any of its impact. ( )
  passion4reading | Nov 15, 2016 |
this is a bit hard for me to rate - i found the psychological character studies to be utterly fantastic. still, it was a bit dense for me and i found myself reading for ages and not getting through more than a handful of pages each time. some of the writing - while mostly very good - was a little tough for me, but that might have just been the "britishness" of it. i loved that this was a mystery that wasn't about a murder - i've been waiting for a book like that for so long - but initially didn't find the "reveal" to be believably traumatic enough for john to have so completely given up his previous life and family. having discussed it in a group, though, i do see how he thought death or disappearing (a kind of death) was the only recourse, and even more appreciate all the layers and depth she goes to throughout. i don't believe there is anything touched upon that isn't both entirely relevant and also completely resolved. it's a challenging read, but one where vine is trusting the reader to have the ability to go there with her, and i appreciate that.

also, i compulsively wanted to be continually reading this; it really grabbed me, in spite of being filled with generally awful and unrelateable characters. i'd like to read more of her work. ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | May 13, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barbara Vineprimary authorall editionscalculated
Sterlin, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Patrick Maher
First words
He wanted a family of his own.
Gerald Candless used a typewriter, not a word processor, quite an old-fashioned one, and had a bunch of pens and pencils in an onyx jar.
She turned her attention to the manuscripts.... He had done the corrections and emendations himself, with a fountain pen, in black ink.
It looked, she thought, like the room in a writer's house that has been preserved as a museum ... She had laid a sheet of A4 beside the typewriter and a fountain pen across the paper.
When the guests had gone, Peter said, quoting Goethe or someone, 'They are pleasant enough people but if they had been books I wouldn't have read them.'
The Forsaken Merman
Our children when young are a part of ourselves but when they grow up they are just other people.
A Paper Landscape
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

An Englishwoman writing a biography of her father, a famous novelist, discovers that as a young man he changed names, taking the name of a boy who died in infancy. She goes looking for the reason and discovers murder.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary
Gerald Candless, the
well-known author, is dead. Who
was Gerald Candless?

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Average: (3.55)
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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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