2009: 54. The House of Stairs    

“The taxi driver thought he had offended me.”

The House of Stairs, Barbara Vine

Yet another enjoyable Vine novel, even if its not as great as her very very best.  The novel is set in the present day (or rather the early 1990’s when the novel was written), but tells the story of a murder that took place in the early 1960’s.  We know that a murder has been committed - and have a good guess as to who it has been committed by, but we don’t know what happened.  That slowly unfolds over the course of the novel.  In the meantime, our narrator, tells us about her youth in 1960’s England, including the death of her mother from Huntington’s disease, and her own fear that she might meet the same fate.  It tells of her aunt, Cosette, who she adores, and who has bought the House of Stairs, a mansion in London that becomes a commune of sorts for young swinging London types.  And it tells of Belle, the stylish and mysterious woman with whom the narrator becomes infatuated, despite knowing almost nothing about it.  Another intriguing, mysterious, captivating Vine novel, as much about why things happened than who killed who.

Date/Place Completed: May 2009; D.C.

Categories: Fiction; Ruth Rendell Project

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017