The Child’s Child – Barbara Vine

Andrew and Grace inherit their grandmother’s large London home, Dinmont House, and decide to share the rambling mansion, dividing up the bedrooms, sitting rooms and libraries.  The arrangement works well, until Andrew brings home his new love, James.  James is very handsome, but also very opinionated and disruptive.  When James witnesses the murder of a friend outside a London nightclub, he becomes frightened and depressed.  To take her mind off the unsettling situation, Grace begins to read the manuscript of an unpublished novel The Child’s Child.  The story is of John and Maud, a brother and sister born a few years after World War I, who are living together.  It reflects the life of Andrew and Grace, a homosexual brother and a sister carrying an illegitimate child.

I enjoyed this novel-within-a-novel, but the psychological suspense and interesting plot turns I have come to expect from Barbara Vine just weren’t there.  Instead it’s a thoughtful comparison of the way   society’s treatment of people who don’t adhere to “proper behavior” has changed over the years . . . and how sometimes it hasn’t changed very much at all.

eGalley review      Publication date  12.4.12

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