Tag Archives: Barbara Vine

7: Grasshopper

Grasshopper by Barbara Vine


I picked this up at Pulpfiction Books, a cool new/used bookstore at Main & Broadway.

Once upon a time, I was in a writing class where the instructor insisted that only murder was high stakes enough for mysteries & suspense novels. It was a silly thing to say and I recall scoffing when she said it. This memory resurfaced as I finished Grasshopper and contemplated what I would write about it. I was going to say that there’s no murder in Grasshopper, but technically there is. However, it’s just a mcguffin.

The reviews at Amazon are mixed. Some people hated this book. A lot said it wasn’t a “typical” Barbara Vine book. I’m not sure what they were expecting. None of the BV books I’ve read would be what I’d call typical mysteries. They’re more “regular” stories with suspenseful elements to them. Which is why I like them. I was tired of formulaic whodunnits. The people who seemed most disappointed seemed to expect a “shocking twist” ending. I guess it would be a let down if that’s what you expected.

BV’s books tend to be dark, psychological explorations, rather than thrillers. I think she’s interested in what motivates people to do the things they do. This one, I think, was less dark than others I’ve read, perhaps because it was clear from the outset that the ending would be a (mostly) happy one. The ending doesn’t tie up all the loose ends, though, which is good.

It definitely kept me turning the pages and, when I got to the last page, I experienced that little pang of sadness that you do when you’ve become attached to the characters in a book and you have to let them go. That kind of surprised me because none of the characters were particularly likable. But I suppose that was precisely it; their unpleasant qualities made them seem like real human beings and I got used to them being around.

So, to sum up: no murder(s) to speak of and no particularly likable characters. And yet, I quite enjoyed it.

Books Read May – December 2005

The brevity of this list reminds me of how prolific a reader I used to be. In grade seven, my teacher had us start a list of books read at the back of one of our notebooks. I think it was more of a suggestion than an assignment because I don’t remember anyone else keeping up with it. But I did, and by the end of the school year, I had read ~120 books. I remember being so thrilled when I hit 100. Anyhow, the school year being approximately 10 months, that’s about 12 books / month. Or a book every 2.5 days.

Okay, so I can still read a book in two days. Or one, even. But these days I seem to spend a lot of my time reading Stuff That Is Not Books. Like blogs. Or submissions. 🙂

  1. Saints of Big Harbour by Lynn Coady n
  2. The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy by Barbara Vine n#
  3. A Child’s Book of True Crime by Chloe Hooper n+
  4. Wide Open by Nicola Barker n+#*
  5. Ripley’s Game by Patricia Highsmith n#
  6. Time Off for Good Behavior by Lani Diane Rich n+
  7. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel m+
  8. Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell e+#
  9. Geographies of Home by Loida Maritza Perez n+
  10. Liza’s England by Pat Barker n#*
  11. For Rabbit, With Love & Squalor by Anne Roiphe e#
  12. Letting Loose the Hounds by Brady Udall s+#
  13. The Digital Sublime by Vincent Mosco nf+
  14. The Real World of Technology by Ursula Franklin nf+
  15. Under Technology’s Thumb by William Leiss nf+
  16. The Small Details of Life by Kathryn Carter nf+
  17. The Extraordinary Work of Ordinary Writing by Jennifor Sinor nf+#
  18. Reading Between the Lines by Betty Jane Wylie nf+