"The Child's Child" by Barbara Vine

When Grace and Andrew's grandmother dies, she leaves them her large, beautiful home, Dinmont House.  Instead of selling it, like most siblings would, they decide to move in together, splitting the bedrooms and studies between them and sharing the entrance and kitchen.  It may seem strange but it works for them.  That is, until Andrew brings home his new boyfriend.

From the beginning, Grace doesn't care much for James or his haughty attitude.  His presence in the home affects Grace and makes for a tense atmosphere.  Then one night, Andrew and James witness the murder of one of their friends and James begins to unravel.  This leads to an encounter between Grace and James that will change their lives forever.

When Andrew and James move out of the house, Grace escapes into a manuscript of a novel from 1951.  The book went unpublished due to its depiction of an unwed teenage mother and homosexuality.  The brother and sister in the novel mirror Grace and Andrew and both stories, though almost a century apart, show how what was once taboo has become commonplace and yet still carries a stigma.

The Child's Child by Barbara Vine is a unique book in that it's a novel within a novel.  As Grace seeks refuge a manuscript, we read it right along with her.  A look at the attitudes toward unwed mothers and homosexuality in the early 20th century is set against the same attitudes in the early 21st century.  

This book was just so-so for me.  It started out very interesting.  As a book lover, I really enjoyed the mention of the books Grace was reading for her thesis.  As I read I thought that any lover of classic novels would really enjoy the book.  But after that, there wasn't much to keep me intrigued.

I really like the idea of the story within the story.  I think that was the books strongest point, to tell the story and look at how attitudes have changed in this manner.  However, I found that the book was slow to set up both stories and in the end, didn't really leave me with much.  I never felt like I wanted to put the book down, but when I was finished, I just felt kind of neutral about it.   The book definitely shows the way attitudes were in the past, however, it felt like I knew all of that already, like the book could have been further developed to show us more. 

Barbara Vine is the pseudonym of crime writer Ruth Rendell.  The books she writes under this name aren't mystery novels but about people and morality.  She is heavily accomplished under both names.  This was the first novel of hers I have read under either name.  

I received a copy of this book courtesy of Random House of Canada.  The opinions expressed above are purely my own.


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