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Asta's Book

Train with dialects but this is mitigated by her understanding of inner motivations Indeed it proves to be the personal uirks of the characters that both create and solve the mystery as denouement follows denouement to a surprising conclusion. Terribly boring and awfully hard work for a rather anticlimatic ending Too much bleak social commentary and not enough story which is fine but not on the fiction and entertainment shelves Redeemed by some interesting thoughtsFavourite uotes Hope is a horrible thing I don t know why these church people call it virtue it is horrible because it is so often disappointed P13 Hope deferred may make the heart sick at first later it leads only to boredomPleasire came laterInuiring about its provenance came much later p38 1988 In our society the extended family fast disappearing one sees one s cousins only at funerals and then very likely fails to recognise them p74 Love hasn t much chance of survival in a relationship where one person is always telling the other one what to do and bullying and preaching p 113

REVIEW â DEALSONWINES.CO.UK ´ Barbara Vine

Written by Ruth Rendell under the pen name of Barbara Vine the diary of a lonely Danish immigrant at the turn of the century became a bestseller in England Asta offers keen interest in life zest for storytelling and acerbic views of humanity. Did Ruth Rendell consider the novels she wrote under the pseudonym Barbara Vine to be her best work I personally think this is than likely Much missed by her many fans since her death in 2015 Ruth Rendell was a very prolific and highly regarded crime writer with over sixty books to her name She won many awards and honours and continued to craft novel after novel even though she increasingly had other commitments She regularly attended the House of Lords every day for instance stating firmly that if she were to be awarded the honour of CBE Commander of the Order of the British Empire she intended to work for it rather than allowing it to be a sinecure Yet astonishingly the stories kept coming readable dependable crime mysteries even when she was in her 80 s I have read many of Ruth Rendell s novels and short stories over the years including some of the hugely popular Wexford series of twenty four books These are cosy mysteries solid workaday reads though some have of an edge and could be termed thrillers Some stand alone novels are extremely downbeat with an almost vicious element She was adept at getting inside the mind of the perpetrator of a crime later writing psychological murder novels rather than mysteries She wrote about those who are socially isolated or those afflicted by mental illness or anxiety problems The novels show sharp insight feel very realistic and always convey a great sense of place down to the smallest detail If you happen to know the area where one of her books is set you will not be able to fault her description her novels are all meticulously researchedBut the novels she wrote as Barbara Vine which number fourteen in all have something else They have an extra uality which although I hesitate to use the word in case it seems judgemental about her main oeuvre by comparison is literary The writing is lifted above the ordinary the plots are nuanced and complex There is evidence of a formidable amount of solid historical research not presented in a dry format but spun into a compelling read Often this is conveyed by a character in the present researching into their background There is yet depth in the exploration of character and relationships Inevitably there is an element of mystery and intrigue or of story layered upon story involving deep history or flashback this is trademark Barbara Vine Sometimes it is not clear whether there was a crime or not and the suggestion often occurs late in the book when the reader has become absorbed in the reality of the book s world and perhaps even forgotten that it is genre fictionAsta s Book is no exception Published in 1993 as the sixth Barbara Vine novel it has a contemporary setting with flashbacks to 1905 included The eponymous book is the diary of the main character Asta used as a clever literary device Reading the novel one thus has a dual sense of another country another and different culture and another time as well as the presentIn the historically earlier parts of the tale the 25 year old Asta Westerby and her two sons have moved to Hackney in East London from their home in Denmark Asta has a husband Rasmus who does not seem to be in evidence but is away on business He also seems not to be greatly missed by Asta although Asta is again expecting Perhaps Asta is dissembling slightly when she claims never to have loved Rasmus She now believes that he married her mostly for her dowry writing I suppose I should be thankful Rasmus isn t a Mahometan otherwise I m sure he d be finding another wife to marry for 5000 kroner Asta feels lonely and alienated in a culture and community she dislikes feeling superior to many around her Derisively she records When I went out this morning a woman asked me if there were polar bears in the streets of Copenhagen Asta resents what she views as a small minded and provincial community and sees no need to adapt her ways As a Danish women she wears her wedding ring on her right hand even though the local people look askance at her clearly suspecting she is an unmarried mother Yet Asta is contemptuous of such ignorance and too proud to do anything to clarify her position Asta has no need of anyone else She even treats her servant Hansine the closest she ever had to a friend with contempt Because Hansine is illiterate Asta regards her as little better than a farm animal Through her candidly disdainful attitude in her diaries we see that Asta has no respect for Hansine and also has a very cold and indifferent demeanour towards her two sons Asta always prefers her own company in her own house with its Danish furniture and ornaments and her books Her own view of her life is often bleak Hope is a horrible thing I don t know why these church people call it a virtue it is horrible because it s so often disappointedAsta is not a likeable character but we are intrigued by her through reading her diary which eventually is to cover 62 years Asta s diary was never meant for others eyes but we learn from the modern part of the book that some of it had been discovered and translated Her daughter Swanhild known as Swanny had arranged publication seventy years after the first diary had been written and it then became an overnight sensation It was a bestseller achieving cult status as a fascinating domestic record of Edwardian times and Swanny achieved star status herself basking in the reflected glory The diary had been kept up by Asta until 1967 although part of it was now missing some of it had perhaps been destroyed by Asta herself and not all of what existed had yet been translatedIn the present day part of the novel we meet the viewpoint character Ann a professional researcher who is far personable rather shy and introverted Swanny has also died and Ann Eastbrook is her niece and also Asta s granddaughter To her great surprise she has inherited the diaries and at the beginning of the story is not sure what to do with themSoon after the funeral for Swanny an old acuaintance of Ann s approaches her The two have a very involved history of jealousies the jarring notes adding frisson and an ironic humour to the plot This friend cum enemy of Ann s Cary is a television producer who looks to Ann as a possible source of information She happens to be making a documentary film about the unsolved murder in 1905 of a Lizzie Roper also of her mother and of the disappearance of her infant daughter Would Asta s book from the time reveal any information which would help Lizzie Roper had lived only a few streets away from Asta at the timeThe novel now centres around Asta s diaries which had gripped the public s imagination as they revealed a forgotten world Ann decides to do a bit of literary investigation and her reading of the diaries does seem to reveal significant gaps Are there clues to the unsolved mystery in the details Perhaps they hold the key to the unsolved murders or others or possibly no murders at all What of the missing child or perhaps there was no missing child Had she been abducted Or herself murdered Was she still alive under another identity Why was Asta s daughter Swanny who had been born in 1905 a lifelong favourite of her mother There are secrets and lies Asta teases and others suffer There are misunderstandings Some family secrets and hidden crimes have unintended conseuencesThe denouement of the book is devious and clever and clues are fed to the reader piece by cunning piece The buried secrets of nearly a century before are gradually revealed and the puzzle begins to make sense But not all the threads will necessarily be tied into the plot Some become unravelled again they are deceptions blind alleys Asta s granddaughter and the reader alike will be baffled and intrigued until the last page This is a very satisfying read with much cultural and historical richness and a complex multi layered plot A double detective story it is full of depth It effectively conveys Danish domesticity and claustrophobia with much period detail the whole given authenticity set against world events It then graduates into the later parts depicting the Edwardian love of sensational crime and lurid melodrama The parts near the end which depict the newspaper reports of a famous Edwardian murder trial are engrossing in themselves The tension and thrills crank up as the novel nears its conclusion and it is so skilfully constructed that the suspense does not let up for one moment until all is revealed The clues are there for those who can weave through such a tangled web but there are many red herrings planted along the way Murder and madness shocks and senility dark deeds and dementia misalliance and misidentity mystery and missing persons we have it all in this riveting read Note As an interesting side note some of the copies of Asta s Book are alternatively titled Anna s Book In the United States Ruth Rendell s American publisher was apparently worried that the name Asta would remind potential readers of the dog from the Thin Man films The Burning The Haunting of Grey Hills zest for storytelling and acerbic views of humanity. Did Ruth Rendell consider the novels she wrote under the pseudonym Barbara Vine to be her best work I personally think this is than likely Much missed by her many fans since her death in 2015 Ruth Rendell was a very prolific and highly regarded crime writer with over sixty books to her name She won many awards and honours and continued to craft novel after novel even though she increasingly had other commitments She regularly attended the House of Lords every day for instance stating firmly that if she were to be awarded the honour of CBE Commander of the Order of the British Empire she intended to work for it rather than allowing it to be a sinecure Yet astonishingly the stories kept coming readable dependable crime mysteries even when she was in her 80 s I have read many of Ruth Rendell s novels and short stories over the years including some of the hugely popular Wexford series of twenty four books These are cosy mysteries solid workaday reads though some have of an edge and could be termed thrillers Some stand alone novels are extremely downbeat with an almost vicious element She was adept at getting inside the mind of the perpetrator of a crime later writing psychological murder novels rather than mysteries She wrote about those who are socially isolated or those afflicted by mental illness or anxiety problems The novels show sharp insight feel very realistic and always convey a great sense of place down to the smallest detail If you happen to know the area where one of her books is set you will not be able to fault her description her novels are all meticulously researchedBut the novels she wrote as Barbara Vine which number fourteen in all have something else They have an extra uality which although I hesitate to use the word in case it seems judgemental about her main oeuvre by comparison is literary The writing is lifted above the ordinary the plots are nuanced and complex There is evidence of a formidable amount of solid historical research not presented in a dry format but spun into a compelling read Often this is conveyed by a character in the present researching into their background There is yet depth in the exploration of character and relationships Inevitably there is an element of mystery and intrigue or of story layered upon story involving deep history or flashback this is trademark Barbara Vine Sometimes it is not clear whether there was a crime or not and the suggestion often occurs late in the book when the reader has become absorbed in the reality of the book s world and perhaps even forgotten that it is genre fictionAsta s Book is no exception Published in 1993 as the sixth Barbara Vine novel it has a contemporary setting with flashbacks to 1905 included The eponymous book is the diary of the main character Asta used as a clever literary device Reading the novel one thus has a dual sense of another country another and different culture and another time as well as the presentIn the historically earlier parts of the tale the 25 year old Asta Westerby and her two sons have moved to Hackney in East London from their home in Denmark Asta has a husband Rasmus who does not seem to be in evidence but is away on business He also seems not to be greatly missed by Asta although Asta is again expecting Perhaps Asta is dissembling slightly when she claims never to have loved Rasmus She now believes that he married her mostly for her dowry writing I suppose I should be thankful Rasmus isn t a Mahometan otherwise I m sure he d be finding another wife to marry for 5000 kroner Asta feels lonely and alienated in a culture and community she dislikes feeling superior to many around her Derisively she records When I went out this morning a woman asked me if there were polar bears in the streets of Copenhagen Asta resents what she views as a small minded and provincial community and sees no need to adapt her ways As a Danish women she wears her wedding ring on her right hand even though the local people look askance at her clearly suspecting she is an unmarried mother Yet Asta is contemptuous of such ignorance and too proud to do anything to clarify her position Asta has no need of anyone else She even treats her servant Hansine the closest she ever had to a friend with contempt Because Hansine is illiterate Asta regards her as little better than a farm animal Through her candidly disdainful attitude in her diaries we see that Asta has no respect for Hansine and also has a very cold and indifferent demeanour towards her two sons Asta always prefers her own company in her own house with its Danish furniture and ornaments and her books Her own view of her life is often bleak Hope is a horrible thing I don t know why these church people call it a virtue it is horrible because it s so often disappointedAsta is not a likeable character but we are intrigued by her through reading her diary which eventually is to cover 62 years Asta s diary was never meant for others eyes but we learn from the modern part of the book that some of it had been discovered and translated Her daughter Swanhild known as Swanny had arranged publication seventy years after the first diary had been written and it then became an overnight sensation It was a bestseller achieving cult status as a fascinating domestic record of Edwardian times and Swanny achieved star status herself basking in the reflected glory The diary had been kept up by Asta until 1967 although part of it was now missing some of it had perhaps been destroyed by Asta herself and not all of what existed had yet been translatedIn the present day part of the novel we meet the viewpoint character Ann a professional researcher who is far personable rather shy and introverted Swanny has also died and Ann Eastbrook is her niece and also Asta s granddaughter To her great surprise she has inherited the diaries and at the beginning of the story is not sure what to do with themSoon after the funeral for Swanny an old acuaintance of Ann s approaches her The two have a very involved history of jealousies the jarring notes adding frisson and an ironic humour to the plot This friend cum enemy of Ann s Cary is a television producer who looks to Ann as a possible source of information She happens to be making a documentary film about the unsolved murder in 1905 of a Lizzie Roper also of her mother and of the disappearance of her infant daughter Would Asta s book from the time reveal any information which would help Lizzie Roper had lived only a few streets away from Asta at the timeThe novel now centres around Asta s diaries which had gripped the public s imagination as they revealed a forgotten world Ann decides to do a bit of literary investigation and her reading of the diaries does seem to reveal significant gaps Are there clues to the unsolved mystery in the details Perhaps they hold the key to the unsolved murders or others or possibly no murders at all What of the missing child or perhaps there was no missing child Had she been abducted Or herself murdered Was she still alive under another identity Why was Asta s daughter Swanny who had been born in 1905 a lifelong favourite of her mother There are secrets and lies Asta teases and others suffer There are misunderstandings Some family secrets and hidden crimes have unintended conseuencesThe denouement of the book is devious and clever and clues are fed to the reader piece by cunning piece The buried secrets of nearly a century before are gradually revealed and the puzzle begins to make sense But not all the threads will necessarily be tied into the plot Some become unravelled again they are deceptions blind alleys Asta s granddaughter and the reader alike will be baffled and intrigued until the last page This is a very satisfying read with much cultural and historical richness and a complex multi layered plot A double detective story it is full of depth It effectively conveys Danish domesticity and claustrophobia with much period detail the whole given authenticity set against world events It then graduates into the later parts depicting the Edwardian love of sensational crime and lurid melodrama The parts near the end which depict the newspaper reports of a famous Edwardian murder trial are engrossing in themselves The tension and thrills crank up as the novel nears its conclusion and it is so skilfully constructed that the suspense does not let up for one moment until all is revealed The clues are there for those who can weave through such a tangled web but there are many red herrings planted along the way Murder and madness shocks and senility dark deeds and dementia misalliance and misidentity mystery and missing persons we have it all in this riveting read Note As an interesting side note some of the copies of Asta s Book are alternatively titled Anna s Book In the United States Ruth Rendell s American publisher was apparently worried that the name Asta would remind potential readers of the dog from the Thin Man films

Barbara Vine ´ 1 FREE DOWNLOAD

As well as a mystery for subseuent generations to unravel Walter's considerable acting skills keep the long process moving As most of the central figures are female her very feminine voice presents few gender problems She occasionally shows s. A lovely rich often complex historical mysteryfamily saga of which I m tempted to say something like books like this don t get written any I m sure they do of course they just rarely appear on my radar But this one did and for that I am thankful it s a cosy book something to abandon yourself to and written with the same impeccable elegance that emanates from its main charactersThe book begins as the diary of Asta a Danish woman whose husband s work has brought their family to London Asta s account starts in 1905 and extracts from her diaries are intercut with the life of her granddaughter Ann in the late 1980s By this point Asta s diaries have been turned into a bestselling series of books found and published by her eldest daughter Ann s aunt Swanny Yet only now does Ann discover the diaries may hold the key to an unsolved murder uestions also emerge around one character s parentageAsta s Book is absorbing but uietly so it encourages leisurely yet attentive reading rather than the frantic page turning that seems compulsory for mysteries now This was a delightful change of pace for meTinyLetter Twitter Instagram Tumblr


10 thoughts on “Asta's Book

  1. says:

    Did Ruth Rendell consider the novels she wrote under the pseudonym Barbara Vine to be her best work? I personally think this is than likely Much missed by her many fans since her death in 2015 Ruth Rendell was a very prolific and highly regarded crime writer with over sixty books to her name She won many awards and honours

  2. says:

    In the early 1900s Rasmus Westerby moves his wife Asta and their two young boys from their native Denmark to LondonRasmus parks his family in the middling neighborhood of Hackney and leaves for long stretches of time trying to become a business success For her part Asta doesn't like Hackney disdains English people has little interest in her

  3. says:

    71415 I've listened to this several times over the past few months on audio superbly performed by Harriet Walter As many times as I've read the book I'm still hearing new sentences it seems I've listened to seve

  4. says:

    While this book does have the clever plotting twists and turns I've come to expect of a Barbara Vine title somehow it just didn't have the same force for me Perhaps it seemed to go on too long to have too many red

  5. says:

    A lovely rich often complex historical mysteryfamily saga of which I'm tempted to say something like 'books like this don't get written any'; I'm sure they do of course they just rarely appear on my radar But this one did and for that I am thankful it's a cosy book something to abandon yourself to and written with the same impeccable elegance that emanates from its main charactersThe book begins as the diary of Asta a Danish woma

  6. says:

    This is one of those rare gems of a book that I literally could not put down Ever tried washing dishes with one hand so you could hold a book with your other hand? It's messy but it can workRuth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine is one of the mos

  7. says:

    Once again I try to read Ruth Rendell this time in her guise as Barbara Vine I wonder if there is something wrong with me? I just can

  8. says:

    I was recently nudged toward this book by another Goodreader’s excellent review Apart from its rather complicated plots expanding outward through three generations of a Danish family between its transplantation to Britain shortly after 1900 and sometime around the 1980s or ’90s it is a book about writing retrospective interpretation of te

  9. says:

    Terribly boring and awfully hard work for a rather anticlimatic ending Too much bleak social commentary and not enough story which is fine but not on the fiction and entertainment shelves Redeemed by some interest

  10. says:

    Asta's book is classic Barbara Vine and I loved it almost as much as No Night is Too Long and A Dark Adapted Eye I just feel compelled to ask why on earth was Asta's name changed ??? And was some one employed to go through the whole

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Tessa Young is an 18 year old college student with a simple life, excellent grades, and a sweet boyfriend She always has things planned out ahead of time, until she meets a rude boy named Harry, with too many tattoos and piercings who shatters her plans.