Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (May 5)

First Chapter

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

This week I have decided to dedicate this post to one of the authors who fed my love of the crime fiction, especially that with a psychological twist, Ruth Rendell who died on 2 May 2015. As my fellow respected blogger Jose Escribo wrote: The best tribute to an author is to read his/her books. Read Jose’s post here.  Ruth Rendell’s career as an author began in 1964 and she was still writing until her latest stroke incapacitated her, with her final book, Dark Corners due out later this year.

A Judgement In Stone by Ruth Rendell, first published 1977

A Judgement in Stone


Four members of the Coverdale family – George, Jacqueline, Melinda and Giles – died in the space of fifteen minutes on the 14th February, St Valentine’s Day.
Eunice Parchman, the illiterate housekeeper, shot them down on a Sunday evening while they were watching opera on television. Two weeks later she was arrested for the crime.
But the tragedy neither began nor ended there. Goodreads

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write.

There was no real motive and no premeditation. No money was gained and no security. As a result of her crime, Eunice Parchman’s disability was made known not to a mere family or a handful of villagers but to the whole country. She accomplished nothing by it nothing but disaster for herself, and all along, somewhere in her strange mind, she knew she would accomplish nothing. And yet, although her companion and partner was mad, Eunice was not. She had the awful practical sanity of the atavistic ape disguised as a twentieth-century woman.

~ ~ ~

Ruth Rendell also wrote under the pen name Barbara Vine which was used to showcase the purer of her psychological novels and it was many of these books that I have re-read more times than I can count. It is hard to choose a favourite but I love Asta’s Book one of the few books in my house that bears the scars from having been read so often, and in places where books shouldn’t inhabit if they are to stay pristine.

Astas Book


Anna is a young Danish woman living in London at the turn of the century. Homesick and lonely for her husband, she keeps her innermost thoughts in a diary. When she dies, these memoirs, spanning sixty years, will be published to international acclaim and huge commercial success. But as Anna’s granddaughter discovers many years later, one entry has been cut out of the original journals, which may shed light on an unsolved multiple murder – the stabbing death of an elderly woman and her daughter – and the mysterious disappearance of an infant child. Vintage Vine, this novel alternates between passages from Anna’s best-selling memoirs and the thoughts of Anna’s granddaughter, recent heir to Anna’s estate. With unforgettable characters and a plot rich in complexity, the mystery unfolds like a dark flower, petal by petal. Another tour de force from Barbara Vine Goodreads

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

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,

What do you think? Are you able to resist the urge to find out more? I struggled as I would happily re-read both of these despite knowing these books so well.


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

40 thoughts on “First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (May 5)

  1. Oh no, I didn’t know she had died! I’ve only read one of her books, ages ago, but one of my housemates loves her books! I like the sound of the openings of both books, they are so intriguing in how they set up their respective stories! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I hope you have a great week!
    My Tuesday post
    Juli @ Universe in Words


  2. Oh, A Judgement in Stone is my top Rendell read, Cleo. And it’s one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read. This is a lovely tribute to her, and a fine reminder of her work.


  3. I haven’t read Rendell’s crime fiction, but I have enjoyed some of her Barbara Vine novels (I didn’t know they were one and the same author!). NPR did a lovely piece on Rendell yesterday, which included snippets from interviews with her.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.


  4. I knew that Ruth Rendell had died recently. So sad to hear that. I love your snippets above. I have read Asta’s Book or rather Anna’s Book as it is known here in the States. I have not read any Rendell books or any other Vine books. Another author on my list. And I am making notes of suggestions above for other especially good works by this prolific author.


    1. My favourite of Barbara Vine’s writing are: A Fatal Inversion, A Dark Adapted Eye and The Brimstone Wedding although the list could go on a bit longer. The Judgement in Stone which I featured here is one of my favourites that she wrote as Ruth Rendell.


  5. Great tribute! For some reason I’ve read very little of her Ruth Rendell books and none of her Barbara Vine ones – but Margot has persuaded me to add A Dark Adapted Eye to the TBR. Looking forward to it… 🙂


  6. What a wonderful tribute to this author….and now I must read her! I don’t know how I’ve missed her books, but thanks for highlighting them. And thanks for visiting my blog.


    1. It does sound like they are going ahead with the last one Dark Corners which was scheduled for October – I will have to get a copy of that one. I enjoyed The Girl Next Door which was published last year.


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