Anna’s Book by Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine is not your typical mystery. For the longest time, it seems to be the story of a family told through the eyes of a woman who has discovered her grandmother’s diary.
Anna, the grandmother, is a Norwegian woman stranded in London in the early 1900s with a husband that is never around, even for the birth of his children. She writes her feelings in her journals, but to her children, she is strict and unfeeling.
When Anna dies, her favorite daughter, Swanny, finds and publishes one of the journals. It becomes popular, and Swanny is in demand as a speaker. There are secrets within the journals, however, but Swanny is only interested in one. Anna had intimated to Swanny that she was adopted, but no matter how she begged, Anna went to her grave with the secret intact. Swanny searches the journals to no avail. They seem to say that Anna is her birth mother, but then why would Anna have told her such a hurtful thing?
When Swanny dies, her niece Ann, picks up the journals and find yet another mystery. Was it murder? And what about the young girl that went missing – could it be Swanny? Ann won’t stop researching until she has the answer.
This book jumps from Anna’s point of view to Ann’s and back again, which is challenging at the beginning, but becomes interesting as the book goes on. The story unfolds deliciously slowly, teasing and seducing the reader into reading more.
This is not a book that fans of faster paced mysteries will enjoy, but if you like British mysteries I suggest Anna’s Book by Ruth Rendell writing as Barbara Vine.