Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading. This week I'm sharing the first two paragraphs of Asta's Book by Barbara Vine (aka Ruth Rendell), written in 1993. I'm reading this book for Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine month with my mystery book group. I read it years ago, but decided to revisit. See what you think:
My grandmother was a novelist without knowing it. She knew nothing about how to become a novelist and, if she had, it would never have occurred to her as feasible. The alternative path she took is now well-known.
This is a collection of papers and memories: my grandmother's diaries, an account of a crime and a transcript of a trial, letters and documents and the things I remember. It is a double detective story, a quest for an identity and a quest for a lost child. At the same time it is a voyage of discovery and a witness to the triumph of chance.
Lonely, ignored by her husband, a stranger in a strange land, Asta Westerby turns to her diary for comfort shortly after moving from Denmark to East London. Starting in 1905, she records the details of her new life and the development of her newborn daughter, Swanny. In the end, her journal spans five decades and becomes a literary sensation, offering an intimate view of an Edwardian life. But though the diaries are well known, few are acquainted with the dark tale hidden in their deleted passages.
Asta’s Book is at once a crime novel, a historical romance, and a psychological portrait told through the diary itself and through the voice of Ann, the granddaughter bent on unlocking the diary’s excised mystery.
Have you read any of Ruth Rendell's books? She was the Queen of the psychological mystery for many years. This book was written under her pseudonym, Barbara Vine. This prolific author died last year.