Asta’s Book by Barbara Vine (Book Review)

Asta’s Book

Asta’s Book by Barbara Vine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A bloody good book.

There’s a reason for the word “bloody.” I’d been reading another book that led me to mini-rant on Facebook about the anachronism of a woman “having her period” in the 16th century. The ensuing discussion led me to this book, in which a somewhat obscure menstruation euphemism provides a clue to the hidden origin of a child and the solution of a century-old murder.

One of THE BEST family saga-mystery type books I’ve ever read, told partly from the present-day viewpoint of Ann and partly from the translated and published diaries of her grandmother Asta, a Danish immigrant to Edwardian London. Asta is contemptuous of her husband, a bully to her maid, an enigma to her children, and a wee bit of a snob to the neighborhood in general, but is curiously likable for all that.  She’s a treat, actually.

The story is compelling, the plotting is complex, the writing is elegant, the characterizations are vivid. Until this book was mentioned to me I’d completely forgotten about Ruth Rendell, who penned this tale under the name Barbara Vine. I have–happily!–so much catching up to do.

Bookshelves: historical-fiction, immigrant-life, women, mystery, family-saga, epistolary

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Author: Deborah Lee

I like trees, dreaming, magic, books, paper, floating, dreaming, rhinos, rocks, stargazing, wine, dragonflies, trains, and silence to hear the world breathe.

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