The Child’s Child by Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine is not my usual cup of tea. Its Literature. The reason I picked this book was the title and the reason why I read this book is the summary.
Now let me tell you this before I go on, this post is likely to contain more spoilers than any of my posts.
You’ve been forewarned. If you’ve decided to carry on reading, I suggest you read the summary at the end of this post first.
This book has two parts to it, it starts in 2011 (which would be present day when this book was first published), jumps to 1929 and then finished off in 2011.
Firstly, as I started reading, I had a vague impression of a male protagonist. I have no valid reason to give for this impression except that was just the feeling I got from the first few pages. I realized the protagonist was female when her name came out later.
Grace is the protagonist of this age and Andrew and James are the primary characters. Their part in this story shows that while we’ve come some ways, society still deems what is outside the social norm as an anomaly. That is putting it mildly.
Secondly, 1929. The main protagonists here are Maud and John. I find it hard to comprehend the attitude towards Maud. I understand it as those were the social norms in the day but I still find it hard to comprehend. As she grew older, I found it hard to sympathize with her but still couldn’t bring myself to completely hate her. She was never given a chance to stand on her own feet, she was always babied and as a result grew dependent on others. A very self involved character Maud is.
I honestly disliked Maud’s opinions about John and how she was not at all grateful. As the story developed, I could see so much of her parents in her.
John, John, John, you naive man. The expression ‘love is blind’ is made for this man. He is so in love with his supposed partner Bertie, he doesn’t see what is coming. However, this is a problem many people encounter even today. What a pitiful soul this man is, imprisoned by his emotions.
One thing that kept rolling around in my mind as I was reading is the fact that we don’t know what the other person is going through in their life, or the thoughts they may have. To simply make assumptions on outer appearances is foolish. If you’ve nothing kind and good to say/do, then don’t do anything. How hard can it be?
If you’ve read this book, I would very much like to hear your opinion on it.
Backcover Insert: When their grandmother dies, Grace and Andrew Easton inherit her sprawling London home. Rather than sell it, they move in together, splitting the numerous bedrooms and studies. The arrangement is unusual, but ideal for the affectionate pair (honestly, I couldn’t not see the affectionate)–until the day Andrew brings home a new boyfriend, a devilishly handsome novelist names James. When he and Andrew witness their friend’s murder outside a London nightclub, James begins to unravel, and what happens next changes the lives of everyone in the house.
As turmoil sets in, Grace escapes into reading a manuscript–a long lost novel from 1951 called The Child’s Child–never published because of its taboo subject matter. The book is the story of two siblings born a few years after World War One. This brother and sister, John and Maud, mirror the present-day Andrew and Grace: a homosexual brother and a sister carrying an illegitimate child.
The Child’s Child is a brilliantly constructed novel-within-a-novel about family, betrayal and disgrace.