Read Asta päevaraamat by Barbara Vine Matti Piirimaa Rein Põder Online


Barbara Vine on menuka inglise kirjaniku Ruth Rendelli kirjanduslik teisiknimi väljaspool kriminaalžanrit. „Asta päevaraamat“ ei ole kindlasti tavakohane kriminaalromaan, pigem laiahaardeline suguvõsalugu, ent samas kriminaalromaani kombel kõikide võimalike asitõendite varal mõistatuse lahendust otsiv pingeline lugu. Selles loos pole detektiivi, küll aga on kahtlustatavad,Barbara Vine on menuka inglise kirjaniku Ruth Rendelli kirjanduslik teisiknimi väljaspool kriminaalžanrit. „Asta päevaraamat“ ei ole kindlasti tavakohane kriminaalromaan, pigem laiahaardeline suguvõsalugu, ent samas kriminaalromaani kombel kõikide võimalike asitõendite varal mõistatuse lahendust otsiv pingeline lugu. Selles loos pole detektiivi, küll aga on kahtlustatavad, ohvrid, harrastusuurijad ja ka mõrv. Umbes pool tegevusest toimub üle 90 aasta tagasi - need on isepäise ja kirjutamisandeka Asta päevaraamatu leheküljed. Kui Asta kõrges vanaduses suri, leidsid ta tütred suure hulga päevaraamatuid ning hakkasid neid avaldama. Päevikud, Asta, ta perekond ja eriti lemmiktütar Swanhild said kuulsaks. Swannyt aga hoiab peale ema menuka pärandi avaldamise rõõmu päevikute kütkes teinegi asjaolu. Kui Asta veel elas, sai õnnelikus abielus olev Swanhild anonüümkirja, mis sundis teda juurdlema oma päritolu üle - kas ta ikka on Asta laps. Aastate tagant leiab nii mõndagi mõistatuslikku, kummalisi vihjeid on päevaraamatuis ning tagatipuks selgub, et neist on mõni leht välja rebitud. Kui oma kahestatuse tõttu vaimuhäired saanud Swanny sureb, jätkab tädi alustatud juurdlust Asta tütretütar....

Title : Asta päevaraamat
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9985651057
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 375 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Asta päevaraamat Reviews

  • Jean
    2019-03-13 09:21

    Did Ruth Rendell consider the novels she wrote under the pseudonym "Barbara Vine" to be her best work? I personally think this is more 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 more 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 researched.But the novels she wrote as "Barbara Vine", which number fourteen in all, have something else. They have an extra quality, which - although I hesitate to use the word in case it seems judgemental about her main oeuvre by comparison - is more literary. The writing is lifted above the ordinary; the plots are more 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 more 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 fiction.Asta'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 present.In 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 5,000 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 disappointed."Asta 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 translated.In the present-day part of the novel, we meet the viewpoint character, Ann, a professional researcher, who is far more 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 them.Soon after the funeral for Swanny, an old acquaintance 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 time.The 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 consequences.The 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
    2019-03-19 03:08

    In the early 1900s Rasmus Westerby moves his wife Asta and their two young boys from their native Denmark to London. Rasmus 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 sons, and has no love for her husband - who she thinks only married her for the dowry of 5,000 kroner. As it happens Asta is pregnant again (characters in this book have no concept of birth control), and is desperate to have a girl. So when little Swanhild (Swanny) is born in 1905, Asta is thrilled. A few years later another daughter, Marie, comes along - and the family is complete. Asta is a conventional and conservative woman of her time but she's well-educated and loves to read - especially Charles Dickens in Danish. To assauge some of the loneliness Asta feels in the alien environs of England, she keeps a diary. In the journal, Asta talks about many things: daily activities, thoughts, feelings, people (children, husband, friends, relatives, servants, neighbors, acquaintances, etc.), food, clothes, homes, furniture, ornaments, parties, gossip, newspaper stories, and so on....anything that pops into her head. Asta's diary entries - spanning more than sixty years - are interspersed throughout the book, which goes back and forth between past and present.After Asta's death (in her eighties) her oldest daughter Swanny finds the diaries. Swanny has the first couple of volumes translated from Danish to English and publishes them, as a sort of lark. To Swanny's surprise the diaries become wildly popular - a worldwide phenomenon! In time, additional volumes of the diary are published and Swanny, as the editor, becomes a celebrity in her own right. There are meetings with publishers, book signings, public appearances, photos in magazines, and world travel. After Swanny dies, her niece Ann (Marie's daughter) - a professional researcher - takes over as editor of the remaining diaries. As the story unfolds a couple of 'mysteries' are revealed. Swanny's conundrum: When Asta is widowed she moves in with Swanny, who has a rich successful husband and a lovely large house. Asta loves to socialize and - for her own 83rd birthday - arranges a lavish 'chocolate party' at Swanny's home. On the day of the party Swanny receives an anonymous letter that says ".....You are not your mother's child or your father's. They got you from somewhere when their own one died...." Swanny, who always knew her father didn't like her, intuitively believes this. She confronts her mother, who (more or less) admits Swanny is not her natural born child, but refuses to say anything more.....ever! Swanny is devastated and haunted by this revelation, and desperately tries to discover her origins. When Swanny (and then Ann) get custody of the diaries, they study them for clues to Swanny's origin - but several vital pages are missing. For Swanny the enigma of her parentage has severe psychological consequences.The Roper murder: In her 1905 diary Asta briefly mentions that her maid, Hansine, has become acquainted with Florence - the servant of a family called the Ropers. Hansine asks permission to invite her new friend Florence to tea, and Asta agrees. Soon afterward Lizzie Roper is murdered and her toddler daughter Edith disappears. Lizzie's husband, Alfred Roper, is accused of murdering his wife - and the trial is avidly followed by the public. Jump to the present and true crime stories are very popular. A producer named Cary is planning to make a movie about the old Roper case. She asks Ann (the current editor of the Asta diaries) for a peek at the yet unpublished diaries - to see if the Ropers are mentioned again. This leads to a loose collaboration between Cary and Ann as they look for information about the Roper affair. 'Asta's Book' is both a novel of psychological suspense and the story of Asta Westerby and her family. Asta's story is quite compelling. As Rasmus's fortunes rise and fall she goes from lower middle class to prosperity to struggling once again, before moving in with Swanny. I enjoyed the diary entries about Asta's fashionable clothes, Danish foods (blekage and kransekage), household trappings, love for Swanny, 'crush' on her driver, and so on. I also liked the description of the dollhouse Rasmus made for Ann, called Padanaram. This masterpiece took years to complete and was a faithful reproduction of the Westerby's posh home at the time. (I would have loved to have this dollhouse as a child. LOL)The mystery portion of the story is also quite engaging. I wanted to know about Swanny's heritage and was intrigued by the various theories proposed by different characters. I was also eager to discover whether Alfred Roper was guilty or innocent of murdering his wife. "Asta's Book" - published in 1993 - has the vibe of an 'old fashioned' mystery. It moves slowly and thoughtfully, contains provacative red herrings, and has no graphic violence (except for one slit throat). The book would appeal to a wide array of readers, including fans of literary novels, psychological suspense stories, and traditional mysteries. Highly recommended.You can follow my review at

  • Philip
    2019-03-12 04:09

    7/14/15: 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 several other Vines as well during this time, and the same is true of them). Ironically, I was in the process of listening to this when Ruth Rendell was felled by a stroke in January, and another Vine when she died in May.7/24/13: It's always interesting to get other readers' 'take' on a book - it's almost as thought they read a different book! Ironically, some of the things others had a problem with are the very things that so impress me about this book.10/29/09 (approximate): This is my favorite novel by Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine, and at this point just about my favorite novel, period. I recently finished reading it for the eleventh time. I much prefer the book's British title, ASTA'S BOOK, for a character's name definitely influences how you envision them.A famous diary that may provide clues to a brutal murder, a present-day narrative by the diarist's grand-daughter, and a trial transcript - from these elements Rendell weaves together a spellbinding narrative about the search for identity. In doing so she creates a world and characters that I hate to leave behind, as she also does in A DARK-ADAPTED EYE, A FATAL INVERSION, THE HOUSE OF STAIRS, and THE BRIMSTONE WEDDING, which is why I've re-read these books so many times. It's also a very interesting look at the relationships between women: mothers and daughters, sisters, aunts and nieces.7/05/10: Time for my annual re-reading . . . 11/21/10: I took it very, very slowly, savoring a few pages most nights before bed, after I'd put aside whatever my current main book was. Was this the 12th or 13th reading, or the 14th? I can't honestly say. But I still turned the pages as eagerly as I did the first time.12/08/11: Just finished re-reading my favorite book by my favorite author. I've had a bad case of "reader's block" for the past 2 months, only managed 2 books apiece in October and November - I hoped that re-reading ASTA'S BOOK would help me out of the reading doldrums - I resisted temptation a couple of weeks ago, only reading the opening page, but last week decided Oh well, what the heck. And I did get lost in its spell once again.12/03/12: Just as good the 15th time. And a welcome relief from some of the gloomy stuff I'd been trying to read.

  • Teresa Proença
    2019-03-10 03:18

    É um livro escrito por Ruth Rendell e pouco mais há para dizer…Uma escritora de policiais (sempre originais e surpreendentes) pouco dada à descrição de assassínios sangrentos, cometidos por psicopatas, e mais aos "deslizes criminais" das pessoas comuns.Não dou as cinco estrelas apenas porque as reservo para aqueles livros que em momento algum me aborrecem e O Diário de Asta tem cerca de meia dúzia de páginas de um julgamento, com os respetivos discursos dos advogados, assunto que me enfada muito.

  • Blair
    2019-03-15 06:01

    A lovely, rich, often complex historical mystery/family saga of which I'm tempted to say something like 'books like this don't get written anymore'; 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 characters.The 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. Questions also emerge around one character's parentage.Asta's Book is absorbing, but quietly 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 me.TinyLetter | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr

  • Sue
    2019-03-14 05:16

    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 herrings. Yes I did enjoy the unwinding of the diary and current day story, but it all seemed just too much story. (Or it could be me... my initial reading was quite broken up, only continuous at the end.) I won't let this stop me from trying more Vine stories on for size as I've been very pleased with the others I've read. I also seem to be a bit below the average in my view of this one so....take it for what it's worth.

  • Thea
    2019-03-17 03:20

    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 work.Ruth Rendell (writing as Barbara Vine) is one of the most masterful storytellers of contemporary times. This novel is so carefully plotted, so meticulously -- and dare I say perfectly -- crafted that the sheer magnitude of what it must have taken Rendell to work out every small piece of the puzzle is just amazing. And Rendell's other strong suit is her uncanny insight into the psychology of her characters. They may not all be likeable, but at least we understand their motivations.This was a quick read for me, but the story unfolded slowly. I was not immediately riveted by the first chapter -- interested, yes, but the pacing I thought was a bit slow. There were passages I at first dismissed as irrelevant, but boy was I wrong. I should know by now that nothing in a Ruth Rendell novel is irrelevant. Every word is weighted. Every word counts.Also, there are a lot of characters to keep straight, and several times I had to flip back through already-read pages to remind myself of who was who. However, by the surprising (and satisfying) final chapter, I understood and appreciated why each of these many characters was included and was awed by how each one, no matter how "minor," was nothing less than essential to the story.Of the story itself, I'll say little other than it contains lost (then found) diaries, a disappeared child, a murdered woman, and the narrative alternates between turn-of-the-century England and modern England. When I read the last line earlier this evening, I closed the book, then closed my eyes, exhaled, and experienced my favorite part of ending a great book: that moment of silence after the last word is read, that moment when the complete story "settles in." And then the wishing that I could read it again for the first time.

  • Deborah Pickstone
    2019-03-05 05:25

    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't take to her writing in either personification. In this case I could not like Asta/Anna at all. I found her best selling book not credible and she came across cold, arrogant and cruel, apart from the early part of the book where she simply seemed unhappy and a bit spiteful.Anyway, it hasn't changed my mind about the writing. I find Rendell somehow uninvolving and cold and drizzly.

  • Craig Monson
    2019-03-22 01:02

    I was recently nudged toward this book by another Goodreader’s excellent review. Apart from its rather complicated plot(s), 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 texts, and turning words into books (with nods toward the broader, changing complexities of that enterprise, which these days seems to have less to do with words on paper). It may be most satisfying for those interested in writing and reading; for those who chiefly prefer snappy whodunits, perhaps less so.The reader reads several decades of the diaries that constitute “Asta’s Book,” salted, as it later turns out, with clues that at first are not read as clues in a grisly murder and in family mysteries that only emerge as mysteries for later generations. Readers also read about Asta’s offspring re-reading, translating, and editing Asta’s words for the wider literary world, in which she becomes something of a phenomenon. Asta’s children and grandchildren also begin to question what she might have been saying between the lines (not to mention on half-a-dozen missing pages, mysteriously ripped out of an early volume, at a critical moment). The temporal and generational shifts, sometimes in mid-chapter, require paying more than indolent attention to avoid confusion. One may hear about certain events multiple times (e.g., Mogen’s death) as different generations of Asta’s family cover the same ground. In some (but not all) cases this begins to make more sense after the grisly murder intrudes on the plot about ¼ of the way through the book and comes to dominate much of the rest.Vine’s research seems meticulous. (Thanks to Google Maps, one could even follow family removals from one address to another and, in some cases, on walks from one significant location [or crime scene] to another.) Late Victorian interiors look right and the challenges of living in them in the days before modern conveniences sound convincing. Sometimes Vine’s historical recreation is almost too good: she includes, for example, a full “transcription” of a 50-page (in the large print edition) 1950s monograph, in determinedly academic prose, about the grisly murder and its prosecution, in which no detail is too insignificant to be included. Faced with that level of writerly “authenticity,” I began reading only every other paragraph.It was not a book that I couldn’t put down (which made sorting it all out a bit more challenging). But once the most careful readers from later generations of Asta’s family began to interpret and make sense of what Asta had been saying between the lines more than half-a-century before, it became engaging. (3.5 *, rounded up)

  • Nina
    2019-03-18 06:25

    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 thoughts.Favourite quotes:'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'. P.13'Hope deferred may make the heart sick at first; later it leads only to boredom...Pleasire came later.Inquiring about its provenance came much later.' p.38'1988. In our society, the extended family fast disappearing, one sees one's cousins only at funerals and then very likely fails to recognise them.' p.74'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

  • Barbara
    2019-03-09 04:22

    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 book editing the change ? Or did American readers open the first page and then find out the name was wrong ? What a perfectly senseless thing to do...I do not believe that American Barbara Vine readers, or anyone else for that matter would not buy a book because the title used a slightly unusual woman's name .................

  • LizG
    2019-02-27 04:18

    I came across an old list of reading recommendations a few weeks ago and requested a few of them from the library. I love that service. I go online, find the books I'm looking for, and they deliver them to the library a couple of block away. Brilliant.Anyway, I had long forgotten why the book was recommended, but I do know I shared a similar literary sensibility with the long ago list-provider, so I added it to the roster of requests. Kitty, you were absolutely right, it's a book worth recommending.It seems the book's title has changed at some point from Asta's Book to Anna's Book -- don't let this confuse or stop you. Don't let the lame book description stop you either, it's actually a very good read.I almost gave up on the book very near the beginning due to confusion with the use of names and pronouns (which "she" are they referring to?!). Note: I'm not one to read books that require a diagram'd family tree to keep the players straight. Once I got clear that Asta is in fact Mormor (the Danish name for one's maternal grandmother) and Rasmus is also Morfar (how the Danish refer to one's maternal grandfather), things flowed much more smoothly.In fact, I had a hard time putting the book down. It flows between the diary author's thoughts and the granddaughter's narrative, slowly but surely peeling back and deepening the mystery and its aftermath, many, many years later. And each time you think you are near to unraveling the puzzle, the red herring is exposed while you are teased into continuing in the journey for truth. I enjoyed the insight into that era, early 1900's as an immigrant to England. Even more so, I enjoyed the unapologetic and honest perspective of the diarist with her lack of emotion and at times harsh and critical view of life and those around her. She is not without love and not vicious. Simply free to express her true feelings in a diary she expects no one will ever read. The players of the past entwine, as do the characters of the present, to a surprising as well as plausible conclusion. I love a well-spun story and this deliciously fits the bill. I became engrossed and found I very much wanted to learn the truth along with the granddaughter.I am satiated. I may need to rest before I pick up another novel.

  • Chris
    2019-03-23 06:02

    Whoa, I so did not see that coming. The first Vine book I read was The Blood Doctor and while I could figure out where the book was going, it was still compelling.This book is great. You think you have it figured out, then you're wrong. Then you think "aha", but still no. My only quibble is that three of the chapters were rather, well, dry. I understand why they were dry (it was trial transcripts), but still.Awesome. Vine does a really good job with the character of Ann. The behavior fits and some of the dialogue is wonderfully done.

  • Kay
    2019-03-07 00:55

    I am definitely a Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell fan but this is my least favorite book thus far. It was rather slow in pacing (not sure there was any). For me, the fast amount of characters were confusing to track. I completed the book and the revealing of "whodunit" was much anticipated.

  • Barbara
    2019-03-22 02:15

    As most of my GR Friends know, I am an avid reader of Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine's books. It is a rarity that she would not delight me and fill me with admiration. This however, is one of those exceptions. It certainly is not because this is one of her earlier books (1993), for many of them have passed my inspection. I was able to continue to respect her skill in penning her thoughts and her descriptions.My major problem withAnna's Bookis that it is just too long and rambling. Because of this and the system of going back and forth in time with different characters, it was difficult to sustain interest and focus on the mysteries therein. It was also problematic to keep track of the many characters introduced throughout the novel. I frequently had to revert to previous pages to refresh my memory. So, while this tale had the earmarks of an interesting mystery, it did not meet my expectations for a book written by this author.

  • Stephen Hayes
    2019-03-09 02:58

    I've just finished reading Asta's Book for the second time. What prompted me to re-read it was my disappointment with The child's child, which I read last week. On the surface, they are the same kind of book, which prompted the comparison. It is a genre that has been made popular by Robert Goddard -- a mystery in the past that has repercussions for people in the present. I found The child's child unsatisfactory and unsatisfying. I had started if with the hope of finding something as good as Asta's Book, but it wasn't. And then I wondered whether Asta's Book was as good as I remembered it? So I decided to re-read it and see. I found it was even better than I remembered it, so I upped its rating from four stars to five. It had none of the faults that so disappointed me in The child's child. There, the past and present stories were not integrated at all, and had only the most tenuous connection between them. The characters were cardboard cut-outs, and they seemed to change every chapter for no discernable reason. In Asta's book the characters were consistent. Yes, they changed over a lifetime, and of course they were not the same at age 75 as they were at 25, but despite the changes, there was a person there. The story in the past was well integrated with the one in the present, and the plot twists made sense. The child's child looked even worse, by contrast. It reads like the early drafts of the first chapters in a thesis submitted by one of my students, where I would point out some of the things that needed improvement, and would say, "It reads like notes for a thesis, not like a thesis. Each paragraph has a separate piece of information, culled from a source, but you have not shown how it links to what goes before and what follows after. There is no argumentation, no thread that leads to a conclusion." And that is how The child's child reads -- like notes for a novel, rather than an actual novel. With the thesis the student would rewrite the chapter, and it would be an improvement, until eventually it was polished enough to submit for evaluation. But surely Ruth Rendell (writing as Barbara Vine has an editor who can perform a similar function the the promoter of a thesis, and point out some of the weak links and plot holes. I enjoyed Asta's Book even more the second time around. In part its appeal is that it is not only a whodunit, dealing with a cold (very cold!) case of murder and a missing child, but it is also a mystery of family history, which is one of my own hobbies. I enjoy reading about family history mysteries in fiction because I enjoy trying to solve them in real life, well, perhaps not quite real life, because most of the people involved are dead.

  • K L
    2019-03-18 05:57

    You could say that I would HAVE to like this book. It's Ruth Rendell. It takes place in the UK. It starts in the Edwardian period, a historical setting I just love. And many of the characters are from Denmark. (I had a Swedish great-grandmother, so Scandinavian countries interest me.)The main character, Asta, puts the lie to the idea that all people (especially women) in the olden days were nice, sweet, submitted willingly to their husbands, and wanted lots of children. Asta was pretty cool - in her diary, she admits that she didn't want to have so many kids, and her husband wasn't her choice. Asta is smart and thinks for herself. She isn't always a nice person - she plays a cruel trick on the child who is supposedly her favorite. But other than that, I like her. I also like the narrator, Ann; and kudos to Rendell for having a character in her late 40s/early 50s who has a serious romance leading to a first marriage. The story also has 2 female friends who have a falling out over a man, then later reconcile - having figured out that they like each other better than either one of them liked him. All in all, very good story.

  • Mo
    2019-03-03 08:21

    What a convoluted mess of a story this became. The speculations became endless, as did the assumptions.“But perhaps she told Hansine…”“This presumably refers to the fact…”“It’s possible, you know…”“Suppose Florence was different…”I did a couple of word searches. The word “perhaps” appeared 126 times, and “suppose” was used 131 times.The entire time I was reading this I was thinking “Where is this story going, and when will it ever end?”NOTE: The story opens very promisingly and I enjoyed Chapter 1 enormously. Then the author violently shifts gears and the story occurring in 1905 is left in the dust, along with its 5 main characters. In Chapter 2 the story moves to 1988, and we are introduced to 23 new characters mentioned either by name or by relationship. (I don’t count those mentioned by description only.) PHEW!Some of these characters are important to the story, some not at all. Good luck keeping track of everyone. I hope you have word search!

  • Cissy
    2019-03-17 06:10

    I'm a person who really appreciates a complex, engrossing, multi-tiered plot filled with twists and turns and the happy prospect of thousands of pages to come. But sadly, Anna's Book seemed too long, and not in a good way. Too much time was spent on the boring and predictable story-within-a-story about the murder trial. I also was impatient with all the unrealistic hoopla over Anna's published diaries--they weren't that interesting, nor was she, or really, any of the other (too many) characters. And the twist at the end... eh. It was, all-in-all, a bit lackluster. Not bad, just not great.

  • Margaret
    2019-03-21 09:04

    This really is a 5 star book - I think it will be among the best books I've read this year. I shall write more in due course.

  • Christine
    2019-03-06 02:16

    I wish I could give this more than 3 stars, because on the whole I really enjoyed it. I was engrossed by the story and by the mystery it offered, and I loved the ending. But there were two points when the author seemed to go so far from the main story that I got bored and started questioning which story they were actually trying to tell. I hoped that by the end the incredibly long detours would make sense, but I still cannot see how the 60 page account of something the protagonist was researching was warranted. This and another, slightly shorter, detour broke the flow of the story and were hard to persist through.

  • Kirsty Darbyshire
    2019-03-19 07:03

    the advantage of being the 'best mystery writer in the english speaking world' - as no less than three of the review quotes in this book tell me - is that you can persuade people to read about six chapters of a book before even giving them a hint as to what the mystery is. i can see that there is plenty of ground work laid in the beginning but if i hadn't known the author or read the praise for this book would i have read this far? something about this book just didn't grab me. i just don't know what it was. i was intrigued. i enjoyed it. i read on when i way too tired to read on. i thought the plot was clever. i think the writing was good. it was a good book. it just wasn't good enough in some indefinable way. it wasn't as good as i'd been expecting. maybe it was that i knew barbara vine was clever. i spent the whole book waiting for the twist in the tail. i knew there'd be a twist and though it's contents were surprising, it's actuality wasn't a surprise. that it was unpredictable was predictable. there was something a bit slow about it. maybe it was a little too clever. too clever just for me, or too clever for it's own good. i don't know. i think i liked it. my final decision, as the saying goes, is maybe. [curiously this book is really called asta's book. i picked my copy up in a second hand book store in america and for some reason they changed the name of the main character for the american market. it wasn't until i saw asta's book on the shelf in waterstones (in the uk) that i realised that the names had been changed.]

  • Kathleen Hagen
    2019-02-27 07:14

    Asta’s Book, by Barbara Vine, narrated by Harriet Walter, produced by Audiogo Ltd. Downloaded from is 1905. Asta and her husband, Rasmus, have come to East London from Denmark with their two little boys. With Rasmus constantly away on business, Astakeeps loneliness and isolation at bay by writing a diary. She keeps up this journal writing from 1905 until almost the time of her death in the late ‘60’s. These diaries, published over 70 years later, reveal themselves to be more than a mere journal.For they seem to hold the key to an unsolved murder and to the mystery of a missing child. When Asta’s last daughter dies, Asta’s granddaughter, Anne is left to determine whether or not she should seek to answer the unsolved mystery of whether her aunt was adopted or not. With the help of her fiancée, Paul, and her friend and movie producer, Carrie, she uncovers the probable family of her aunt, and, only through speculation caused by the journals of Asta and others, they uncover a plausible solution to the murder and to the disappearance of Edith, the remaining child in that family. A mystery which will be loved by anyone who likes to solve puzzles.

  • Alisa
    2019-02-26 05:15

    This was on the shelf of the house we rented in Santa Fe. When it was time to leave, I was only half-way through. Tragedy! I contemplated "accidentally" packing it, but am happy to report that I remained honest.Thanks to the library at home, I got to finish. This is a strange, interesting book. Anna, the diary-keeper, is enigmatic, unlikeable, and frustrating. She takes long walks on Hampstead Heath, lies to her children, and bullies her maid. But hers is only half the story.Though a grisly murder and disappearance is at the heart of the story, around which several plots turn, this isn't a mystery, or a thriller. A mix of diaries, Denmark, identity, madness, history, and coincidence. I can't separate out one thread that overwhelmingly defines the story, only that I always wanted to keep reading. UPDATE: Several reviewers have complained about the 'dry' chapters on the murder trial. I thought that was one of the most engrossing parts. Different strokes...

  • Rita
    2019-03-15 08:09

    I read the Penguin edition, which carried the British title, ASTA'S BOOK. It presents as historical -- excerpts from diaries written by a Danish woman living in London in early 1900s. I keep wanting to know what it is based on! [a real person? real diaries?:] Seems impossible to invent all that, though that seems to be something many novelists are doing these days -writing fiction parading as history.I enjoyed reading it, and trying to imagine living in that time and place. Interesting asides on children growing up with non-native parents, husband-wife expectations, contemporary views on pregnancy out of wedlock... Gives you a lot to think about while you read.With my editor's eye I see minor infelicities in word choice that keep her writing from belonging to the literary canon, but it's not bad...[Pen name of Ruth Rendell. 1993 :]

  • Sandy
    2019-02-27 05:24

    I enjoyed this book very much. The main character is a young Danish woman transplanted to London at the turn of the century. She doesn't much like her husband and begins to unburden herself in a diary she writes in Danish over a 6o year span. The book is fascinating because it combines an intimate view of the woman's life journey unfolding through two world wars and raising her family, and the mystery of the diary's missing pages which explain the most important event in her life and that of her eldest daughter. Asta herself is a complicated character, not altogether likable because of her sharp tongue and hard edges, but very strong and admirable in other ways. The ending was a well-crafted surprise and worth waiting for.

  • M Yeazel
    2019-02-27 02:20

    An excellent book to read, especially if you like diaries. Even better to listen to because there are so many Danish phrases and sentences that you have to get translated, while the way she reads it you can understand it within the context of the rest of the paragraphs. Some of the sayings are translated. It's the story of a niece telling the story of her Aunt and her grandma Asta's years in England. It has a couple of mysteries, and a missing person and a death or two. My favorite book in 2010. I borrowed it from the library, purchased it from Audible and would love to own a first edition. I've got my bookie searching for me.

  • Nancy
    2019-02-22 08:24

    I read a Kindle version of this book which was titled Asta's Book. I must admit I wonder why this book was re-relased as Anna's book. At the core of the book is Danish Asta's feeling of separation from the English people she lived among. A foreign sounding name helps the reader connect with Asta's separation.This is a many leveled mystery taking place over nine decades and the lives of three generations of women. While a murder occurs, the central mystery is one of identity, not who-done-it. (Of course it was good to learn who did do it, even if the murder was only a side story.)

  • Anita
    2019-02-25 02:22

    I love a good British mystery and Ruth Rendell, writing as Barbara Vine, always delivers an intriguing read. If you're looking for fast action, then this isn't the book to pick up, but if your fancy is a well written British cozy in the tradition of an Agatha Christie, then I would recommend this book. I'm pretty good at figuring out "who-done-its" before the ending, but this one came as a complete surprise.Anita

  • Francis
    2019-03-10 04:12

    No Detective, Inspector, Constables or Policeman. No Attorney's, forensic experts, disputed wills or DNA tests. No psychopaths, sociopaths, serial killers or degenerates. No robbery, heist, beating, rape, homophobia or child molestation. Just a diary, an unromantic women, an old murder and a great story.