As you know, I had a fantastic introduction to Barbara Vine via The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy. So I picked up a couple of secondhand copies of further Vine titles in the hope the honeymoon would continue.
Hooray, it did! The Brimstone Wedding has the same precise, spare, but perfectly tailored writing as The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy and has an even better sense of foreboding and tension. And there’s a “plus” – it doesn’t suffer the let-down (or lack of suspense) in the climax that I found with The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy. The conclusion in The Brimstone Wedding was a genuine shock.
A short plot summary : Genevieve looks after Stella Newland in a private rest home. Stella is dying of lung cancer and she and Genevieve share secrets of infidelities – Stella eventually reveals all about her past.
Ack. Can you tell I hate giving plot summaries? I want to talk about the writing. The Brimstone Wedding is about secrets, about love and about how love can make you behave in inhuman ways towards others. It’s more plot-driven then The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy but has the definite advantage of more likeable characters – not a necessity but you realise the greater pleasure in reading likeable characters – not loveable, but more rounded and more human. Vine’s “thrillers” are genuine thrillers in a domestic and character-driven sense. And her craft is unmistakeable.
As with The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy it would be easy to overlook her writing – it’s not intrusive but on further examination you realise just how good it is. Every word seems perfectly choosen, nothing is out of place and nothing jars. I am in awe.
3 out of 4 little black BookieMonster Kitteh paws up. A highly recommended read!
Now to ferrret out more Vine…