Read "A Dark-Adapted Eye" by Ruth Rendell available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get $5 off your first download. A woman investigates the shocking. Read "A Dark-Adapted Eye" by Barbara Vine available from Rakuten Kobo. 'A rich, complex and beautifully crafted novel' P.D. James The prize-winning classic . Editorial Reviews. maroc-evasion.info Review. Writing under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, Ruth Look inside this book. A Dark-Adapted Eye by [Rendell, Ruth].
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Editorial Reviews. maroc-evasion.info Review. Writing under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, Ruth Rendell departs from her famous detective team of Wexford and. Editorial Reviews. maroc-evasion.info Review. Writing under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, Ruth download a Kindle Kindle eBooks Kindle Unlimited Prime Reading Best Sellers & More Kindle Book Deals Free Reading Apps Kindle Singles Newsstand . "Dazzling writing at her formidable best, Barbara Vine taps the poetry as well as the pain of her characters' clamorous declarations of their need for.
Feb 12, Nancy Oakes rated it it was amazing Shelves: It's also one of the most powerful stories she's ever written, and I've read most of them so I feel okay about making that statement.
It was the first novel by this particular name, but not by this author. The reason? Barbara Vine is a pseudonym for Ruth Rendell. Ruth Rendell had already established her credentials as potentially the new Queen of Crime novels after the golden age of Agatha Christie, perhaps sharing her crown with P.
She had written many crime novels, often showing an acute sense of psychology and sexual psycho-pathology. However, despite all the accolades and awards, Ruth Rendell did not feel that her imagination was being given full rein.
She felt the need to set herself a new challenge, and to explore another side of her writing personality. Yes, she may have written many accomplished police procedurals and twisted psychological novels, but she felt the need to explore a third, slightly different slant for her psychological thrillers.
She set the bar even higher, perhaps because the critics had never really rated her work as literary fiction, although she had an immense readership. She was urged to go beyond the whodunit and even the psychological questions she dealt with, of how and why a criminal was made.
Now she needed to address how ordinary people dealt with the skeletons in their cupboard, and what might happen when secrets, which had been buried in their past, came out into the light. These were to be a different kind of novel to the ones Ruth Rendell had given us previously, but they quickly began to rival the sales and public acclaim of her earlier work, and were also adapted for television.
Barbara Vine was here to stay. Ruth Rendell favoured using twisting plots to expose twisted minds. Except for the Inspector Wexford novels, she usually offered close-ups of psychopaths in the making. We are privy to a lot of terrible and often ironic plot elements, as we see the horrible deeds come closer and closer to actuality. But with a Barbara Vine novel, there is a much more leisurely approach.
It will still be a tale of obsession, madness and chaos, but it will follow a far more and intricate and circuitous exposition. Sometimes the reader feels the tale is deliberately delayed, teasing them with a build-up which may never be quite explained. For in Barbara Vine novels, Ruth Rendell feels free to break a sacrosanct rule of crime novels, the assumption that there will be a clear solution to a crime affording a final satisfaction to the reader.
Barbara Vine, daringly, may leave part of the denouement deliberately ambiguous. She explained: Her side of the family called me Barbara and my father finally started calling me Barbara too. If either were called out in the street, I would turn around. Ruth and Barbara are two aspects of me. Ruth is tougher, colder, more analytical, possibly more aggressive.
Ruth is the professional writer. Barbara is more feminine. It is Barbara who sews. If Barbara writes, it is letters that she writes. For a long time I have wanted Barbara to have a voice as well as Ruth. It would be a softer voice speaking at a slower pace, more sensitive perhaps, and more intuitive. In A Dark-Adapted Eye she has found that voice. No other crime writer seemed to be producing anything so emotionally and psychologically complex, although there are many more now.
The novel demands close attention, and the reader becomes compelled to be absorbed, because there is no way of telling which detail will be key to revealing secrets further along the twisting path of the story.
And there will be secrets, and secrets in plenty. Nobody knew better than Ruth Rendell how to hold readers in the tight grip of suspense. We are aware of the narrator immediately, and also that this novel will be a leisurely one to savour, rather than one which will hit the reader in the eye with its explicit and gory descriptions.
The opening sentence: They intrigue us, but in a rather oblique way. And then shortly after, we get the quotation I put at the start of this review. That confirms to us that this will be a carefully crafted piece, by an author who had a keen appreciation of language. And thus we learn, in a very elegant way, that this novel is going to be concerned with someone who was executed. And that the narrator, Faith, was a very close relation: She eschewed reading about the crime, and attempted to distance herself as far as possible from the events.
In medical terms, a dark-adapted eye is one which has adjusted to darkness, so that it is able to discern objects. Nor do we know who the victim is. We have suspicions, but it is not made clear until the final few pages. And there is a twist, although it may not be one the reader guesses. This is psychological crime fiction, rather than a murder mystery per se. The story is largely set during World War II, which ironically is perhaps why this novel is easily read now, without feeling dated. Faith Severn, now middle aged, is recounting her memories of her aunt, the prim and fastidious Vera Hillyard, whom we know was hanged for murder back in the late s.
But whom did Vera kill, and why? We also know that the younger son, Jamie is presently living in Italy at the start of the book. He was only 6 when his mother was hanged so remembers very little, and what he does remember may be unreliable. Many characters such as he are extremely reluctant to discuss anything about the affair. We learn that Vera was socially conscious to the point of snobbishness, and that her husband, Gerald, was hardly ever around. When Vera was convicted as a murderer, he was so shocked that he removed all photos of her, refusing to read any newspaper reports or go to her trial.
It appears that Vera has killed view spoiler [her half-sister, the beautiful, the perfect Eden, hide spoiler ] but how or why is not clear until near the end of the book. The plot develops very slowly, and the reader is given many hints, questioning along with the narrator, how things could have turned out differently, without being privy to what actually happened.
Barbara Vine rations out the threads of the story very gradually, carefully measuring each point at which more information can be told about the family relationships and events which ultimately led up to the tragedy are revealed. Then Eden begins to be supplanted by the extremely close relationship Vera has with her second son, Jamie. She is intensely devoted to him, as Eden drifts away into the Wrens, and after World War II making other career moves, eventually view spoiler [ marrying the latest descendant of an aristocratic influential family.
But Eden suffers a miscarriage, and is then unable to have children of her own. She begins to demand custody of Jamie, whom she claims is being poorly raised by Vera. As the first novel using this persona, A Dark-Adapted Eye is a startlingly good read.
There are a couple of things which prevent it from gaining a fourth star in my estimation. One is that the reader can see the workings a little too easily. Each chapter ends with an overt cliff-hanger, and this feels a little clunky and unnecessary in such an otherwise subtle novel. Another aspect which affect my rating, is the slowness of the first chapters.
After the teasingly intriguing start, chapters three or four have far too much family history, before we know any of the descendants who are to play major roles in the story. Barbara Vine gets away with it by introducing a character who wishes to write a book about Vera Hillyard. But we do not! There are too many generations; too many interleaved connections. We now know from the later novels, that we are never presented with flat characters in a Barbara Vine novel.
There is always a background: A Dark-Adapted Eye is full to the brim with warped and unexpected histories. But this part reads rather like an historical biography. In a factual book of that type, one might be willing to give a little more leeway for dry family histories. When finishing the book, I then wished I had the detailed family history to read, and perhaps thus gain a little further insight. Best of all, of course, would be if the author had casually inserted it into the text at various points.
This is precisely what Ruth Rendell did, in the later Barbara Vine novels, which to my mind are more skilled examples of her craft. Nevertheless it is a good read. Because Ruth Rendell was already a much-loved writer, she had developed enviable experience and writing skills. Her books show a consumate ease with complicated narrative structures.
Time lines and viewpoints constantly doubles back on themselves, whilst moving the plot forward inch by inch, keeping us constantly wrong-footed. As Barbara Vine she has an added dimension. The convolutions of plot are still as present, allied with a precise delineation of character, and the stultifying traps they ensnare each other in.
She even builds this into her narrator, making Faith Severn conversant with and somewhat dismissive of various terms to do with mental disorders. There are similarities between the two authorial voices, that of Ruth Rendell and that of Barbara Vine, of course. Just as in the best classic fiction, both go beyond the narrow conventional confines of a novel, to explore themes and issues in the wider society beyond.
A Dark-Adapted Eye examines the way women were expected to fulfil their roles as wives and mothers, during and after World War II - and the price they paid when they looked beyond and broke those rules, for various reasons.
Both are concerned with looking at the way people use their sexuality for their own ends, and the resulting damage when the truth has been hidden away. A Dark-Adapted Eye is a novel about both love and fear, and about alienation. It brings home the horror of what may happen, when using children as pawns in an adult game.
And it is about the fallibility of memory: Do we only understand from a distance, or do we confabulate? All the way through, the reader is never quite sure what to believe. We trust the narrator Faith Severn, to be reliable, producing a truthful account when she is forced to confront her own memories, attempting to help the author who wants to write a book about Vera Hillyard.
This is a neat and persuasive device, to push the story forward and broaden it out, so that we gradually gain convincing portraits of all the key characters. And nearing the end, when the pieces all seem to be fixed in place, Barbara Vine throws everything into question yet again, leaving the reader to decide what did really happen, and what was the truth of it all. As with the best thrillers, we are shocked and may be tempted to flick back through the pages in an attempt to work out the answer, even though there patently will not be enough information.
She was set to become what she now is, the Queen of Psychological Suspense novels. Jun 26, Dennis Henn rated it it was ok. Imagine driving down a country highway. The posted speed limit is 55 and you are stuck following a vehicle traveling at You pull off on an alternate route hoping to speed the drive up. Unfortunately you find yourself now traveling behind a combine going You can't deny the landscape is beautiful and that your car runs well is a bonus.
That, however, does nothing to alleviate the frustration of such a slow ride. Distracted, you get lost, and finally forget where you were heading. That was m Imagine driving down a country highway. That was my experience reading A Dark-Adapted Eye. It was not very suspenseful. There were too many characters to remember.
There was a murder and a murderer announced at the novel's opening. That the book was well written did nothing to enthrall me, it only made the passing of miles more tolerable. View 1 comment. Jan 16, Heather rated it really liked it. When a journalist contacts Faith Severn in the interest of writing a book about the execution of her aunt Vera Hillyard, Faith slowly reveals and unravels the story of the Hillyard family complete in it's complicities and claustrophobias.
After her parents' death, Vera leaves her young son and military husband in the care of others and undertakes the role of mother to her younger sister, Eden.
Vera and Eden's relationship is extremely close and secretive, often excluding all other parties. Livin When a journalist contacts Faith Severn in the interest of writing a book about the execution of her aunt Vera Hillyard, Faith slowly reveals and unravels the story of the Hillyard family complete in it's complicities and claustrophobias.
Living in virtual isolation during World War II, Vera makes Eden her top priority and constant concern, and becomes a profoundly obsessive and controlling woman. It's here that Faith spends many vacations and holidays, enduring Vera's casual cruelty and myriad insecurities while secretly idolizing the young and beautiful Eden. As time moves on and Faith grows older, she witnesses multiple changes in Vera and Eden's relationship, the return of Vera's son, Francis a merciless young man , and Eden's eventual flight from the nest.
Even so, things are not what they seem in the Hillyard house, and the family secrets will eventually spark an explosive, painful conclusion that leaves the reader sorting through the myriad clues to find a definitive answer to this intensely satisfying psychological thriller. Is Vera's madness really self-induced, or does it come from a more sinister direction? What are the circumstances behind her execution, and what part does her family truly play?
This was a fascinating and, eventually, quite devastating book. The author has a way of laying out the story and prose in a quietly thorough way, keeping the more disquieting elements couched within the normal everyday attributes of a wartime family. Knowing that a murder had occurred but not knowing the circumstances surrounding it, nor even who the victim was, was a particularly interesting way to tell this story.
The technique had me reading with trepidation to discover where the cracks would appear, and how the murder would eventually take place. The story has an aura of foreboding attached to it, it was ominous from it's skeleton to it's details, haunting in a wonderful way.
Because Vera was not a particularly pshycopathic person, the murder behind her execution seemed all the more interesting. Yes, she was restrictive and cold, and it was very clear that she was also repressed and secretive, at times she could be embarrassingly hysterical, but her character also seemed to be very controlled and conscious of propriety and modulated.
Reading along I became convinced that this murder was an act of desperation and madness, instead of an act of calculated cruelty. In fact, all the characters in this book were exquisitely portrayed.
From the obnoxious and perverse Francis to the furtive and beautiful Eden and the reluctant and inquisitive Faith, each character was finely detailed and and exceptionally rendered. It felt like I knew these people, knew how they would react, where their buttons were and could see what would push them.
There was a tremendous amount of exposition given over to these characters, a lot of time spent on the mundane and everyday, but it was far from boring.
In fact it was a very illuminating and clever way to get the reader invested in the drama of the storyline, and the eventual destruction of a family. The story dealt with many sensitive issues, and without giving away the mysteries of the story, it would be hard to touch on and identify them all, but the one that stuck out was the repression and emotional constraint of those in England during that time.
It was evident in Vera's entire character, in her sister Eden's choice of lifestyle, and eventually in Faith's reticence to tell the story of her aunt. Repression ran like a thick vein down this haunting and dark story.
Another thing that I liked about this story were the atmospheric touches. There was much discussion of war time rationing and the procurement of luxurys items, such as food and cosmetics, during the lean times of war. I thought this was an interesting touch that gave the story believability and flavor. It seemed that the author accounted for all the variables in this time period and those minute touches really amplified the credibility of the story.
The conclusion of the story was also handled brilliantly. It skipped the exposition and definition and instead recounted and laid bare all the facts for the reader to deduce the motives and culpability of this murder. By doing this, it refrained from passing judgment on the killer and let the reader see that there was more to the story than just the black and white of the slaying. As in some real-life murders, the details were murky, the facts sometimes cloudy.
One could almost discount Vera's madness and responsibility, could see from the facts alone that she was vindicated. And in the end, that is what this story came down to.
The confusion and reaction of a somewhat normal woman, spurred into to a hideous act that forever changed the landscape of her family's life. If you can't tell by now, I thought this book was superb. It had an intensity and control that I truly appreciated.
I loved the meandering way that the story was fleshed out, and felt that in this way the suspense was built into an almost unbearable measure. I had heard so many good things about this book, and was so excited to read it. In no way did it disappoint.
Though it is written by a mystery writer, this book is more of a psychological suspense story. A very intelligent and thought provoking read. Strongly recommended. I suppose this would be considered a psychological suspense mystery, where the suspense is maintained throughout the novel even though the reader knows very early that a murder has occurred and a murderer has hanged.
So many have reviewed this book that I don't feel the need to say much but, if you haven't yet read any of this series as I hadn't , run to your library or bookstore and begin.
Since this is the first of Rendell's books writing as Vine, it seems a good place to start. Now I have to read more and then some of her Rendell books. I have to thank those who suggested and seconded I read Barbara Vine books. Most mysteries begin with a dead body.
This one begins with a hanging of the murderer. Who was murdered is not immediately apparent. In fact, not only is the victim unknown, the usual facts about a murder are entirely unknown to the reader: While the reader with only a minimal imagination can determine the probable victim, the remainder of the facts are left unknown until the last pages.
The story is told in the first person, but the narrator knows a lot of informatio Most mysteries begin with a dead body. The story is told in the first person, but the narrator knows a lot of information.
Barbara Vine manages to create tension in the way she tells her story.
Although at first I wasn't even certain of the narrator's gender, that she is the niece of the murderer is soon clear. In this position, she knows all of the players, as this is most certainly a family story.
There is memory. There are old letters and photographs. The time line switches from before the murder to the present, which is some 35 years after the murder, and also to a few incidences between times. This reader was never allowed to feel secure in knowing or understanding the family dynamics. I see by my review the Why is also the big mystery in that one also.
I like this psychological delving. Though I thought this one started a bit slowly, I became immersed in the story. My top rating for this genre is 4-stars and this just crosses that barrier. View all 4 comments. This was hard work. The novel seems to be building to some climactic revelation but there is none. There is a sort of a secret but this is telegraphed from the start so hardly any kind of surprise when the na This was hard work.
There is a sort of a secret but this is telegraphed from the start so hardly any kind of surprise when the narrator finally wakes up to it. Oct 17, Bruce Beckham rated it it was ok.
Daft as it may seem, I make a point of avoiding reviews before I read a book. Indeed, something of a groundbreaker, back in the day. As a big fan of Ruth Rendell, I have grown to appreciate her pared ascetic prose. Now Daft as it may seem, I make a point of avoiding reviews before I read a book. It is written in the first person, and the story seems to be leading up to revealing what Vera did to deserve the drop.
Then comes the difficulty. I just counted: But to remember 37 strangers — largely without introduction — I found impossible. It was a relief once again to throw in the towel. Jul 22, Jenny rated it it was amazing Shelves: If you are looking for a light, easy to read book where the ending ties everything up in a neat bow, then this is not the book for you. This is a complex read where the narrator slowly unfolds events of the past.
We are introduced to a vast array of family and friends, some important, some mere names, but we don't know who is important and who is not. The time frame shifts and changes as the narrator, Faith, recalls almost at random, events from the past. For the first few chapters I was left ad If you are looking for a light, easy to read book where the ending ties everything up in a neat bow, then this is not the book for you. For the first few chapters I was left adrift, confused by the passing parade of characters and hints of events that are not fully explained.
But slowly this jigsaw began to take shape and I was pulled into the narrative, unable to put the book down. I read long into the night, before finally falling asleep, only to wake a few hours later at 2. That's how powerful a mystery this was. The ending wasn't totally unexpected and yet there were still doubts, with the reader left to make up his or her own mind as to what really was the truth. I wanted to rush back and start reading the book all over again, hoping for greater insight or maybe finding an overlooked clue.
I longed to find others with whom to discuss the book, to sit down over a cup of tea and find out what they thought really happened. And now, days later, I am still pondering the ending like a dog at a bone, wondering if the author herself ever gave an interview where she set the record straight.
Thank heavens for Google! I know this is a book that will take it's place as one of the best I have read, a book that I will recommend to family and friends when they ask me about my favourite mysteries.
It will stay with me for a very long time to come. I hadn't read any books of Barbara Vine or of her other name Ruth Rendell. I went in to this with no expectations whatsoever. What I found was a tightly plotted yarn, but at the same time, it moved at a glacial pace.
There's a subversion almost, of the whodunnit mystery genre. Vine tells us immediately who the killer was, and who got killed. It's the whys and wherefores that we are concerned with in the rest of the novel. Faith Severn, the niece of the hanged murderess Vera Hillyard, is approached by a biographer who wants to write about Vera and the murder. This is years after the fact, and Faith re-examines everything relevant about the life of Vera, and of the woman she murdered, Eden - her sister.
We know this: Vera killed Eden. Vera was hanged for the murder. Several witnesses saw the murder. Jamie, Vera's baby, was seemingly the motive. What made Vera, who was almost obsessively fond of her sister, kill her? What was Vera's life like? Would she have done it if the society were a bit more open? If she had some money of her own? It was a refreshing change, for me at least, that this was more a character study than a murder mystery.
Vera is a beastly person, but, no one can argue that she loved her baby. She's almost sympathetic towards the end, even when we know why she did what she did. The novel is also peopled with other rich characters, for example, Francis - Vera's other son, considerably older than Jamie and much neglected, Eden - a snob and a person who knows what she wants and how to get it, Chad - was he the father of baby Jamie? Or was he someone going out with Eden?
It is cleverly plotted, the atmosphere is eerie and ripe for murder. My quibble with the novel is not plot or characterization or the setting. It's that it is too wordy. This novel is a slog. It's strange, in the sense that I didn't think I was being told anything that didn't need to be told or something uninteresting was happening.
I liked the information on the page, I only dispute the way it was presented. There's something old-fashioned about the construct and the language, and I had to struggle to engage with what I was reading. Nicholas Searle. The Siamese Twin Mystery. Ellery Queen. Girl Waits with Gun.
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