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Publisher's Summary

As soon as Kerstin Kvist arrives at remote, ivy-covered Lydstep Old Hall in Essex, she feels like a character in a gothic novel. A young nurse fresh out of school, Kerstin has been hired for a position with the Cosway family, residents of the Hall for generations. She is soon introduced to her "charge", John Cosway, a 39-year-old man whose strange behavior is vaguely explained by his mother and sisters as part of the madness that runs in the family.

Weeks go by at Lydstep with little to mark the passage of time beyond John's daily walks and the amusingly provincial happenings that engross the Cosway women, and Kerstin occupies her many free hours at the Hall reading or making entries into her diary. Meanwhile, bitter wrangling among Julia Cosway and her four grown daughters becomes increasingly evident. But this is just the most obvious of the tensions that charge the old remote estate, with its sealed rooms full of mystery. Soon Kerstin will find herself in possession of knowledge she will wish she'd never attained, secrets that will propel the occupants of Lydstep Old Hall headlong into sexual obsession, betrayal, and, finally, murder.

©2006 Barbara Vine; (P)2006 Books on Tape

Critic Reviews

"Palpable, and...satisfying." (Publishers Weekly)
"This is very satisfying reading, a sort of blend of Edgar Allan Poe and Anthony Trollope. Readers of both Rendell and Vine will love this expansive excursion." (Booklist)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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  • Overall

Top notch Barbara Vine

Barbara Vine draws you along through the story, introducing history, bit by bit, the same way you get to know someone. By the end of the story you find yourself completely intrigued by the goings on. I wanted to listen to it again right after finishing it. Great for any fan of Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell, one of the best of hers I've "read".

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

SIX STARS.

Six stars. Maybe her best, and she's so amazingly good! I've just re-listened to this book. It was absolutely riveting the second time around, just like the first. It's PERFECT. Perfect characters, perfect everything. I could see it, feel it, smell it. Rosalyn Landor was also, just perfect. This is just a terrific book.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good, but misleading genre

This is a wonderfully written book, with fine lines of humor, suspense, and tragedy. I would not, however, call it a mystery as some have. There is some mystery to the story, in that you glimpse the end in the beginning and you wonder how things get there, but it is not a "whodunnit".
PS: Very well read.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Joan
  • Charlotte, NC, United States
  • 07-21-09

Engaging

The audio is well read and the story is terrific. The story unfolds like those told by another favorite mystery writer of mine--PD James. It is full of emotion, vivid characters, and a chilling environment that mirrors the internal lives of some of the characters. I've always liked Barbara Vine, but this is my favorite. I can still hear the narrator's voice matter of factly telling the tale of life in this highly charged country family.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Marie
  • Tyler, TX, United States
  • 12-01-12

Vine with Landor is the best

Where does The Minotaur rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

very high

Who was your favorite character and why?

The main character, of course.

Any additional comments?

Trying to describe the effect of this book is like trying to describe great sex. It is just best to experience it. I immediately checked to see if Audible had any other books written by Vine and read by Landor. Such an experience should be repeated. No luck, but there was a Barbara Vine with Robert Powell. Variety is the spice . . . . P.S. You won’t find any dry, boring sex-by-numbers in this book.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Slow start, but worthwhile in the whole

I've found a lot of Barbara Vine books are slow at the start and then they draw the reader into the intriguing, twisted dealings of a dysfunctional family.....and the Minotaur is one of those. The story is written from the point of view of the young Swedish nurse, hired by a small and eccentric British family to take care of the adult son who (she realizes years later) has autism.

I'd read many reviews of the book that called it one of Barbara Vine's best, but I don't agree. Good, but not great.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Trendy Rendy

The Minotaur started out fairly well, although I am not a fan of first-person narratives, the lazy authors fall-back. But soon the meandering tale of "family secrets" became wearying and Kirsten, in the character of narrator, grew flatter by the page. How can someone who is supposed to be a cartoonist write an epic tale without a trace of wit, humor or irony? I have known many, many professional cartoonists and, to a man (or woman) they are founts of comic mots and outrageous witticism and are especially adept at black humor. Then, comes the trendy autism theme which seems like a how-do-I-get-out-of-this-mess plot device, ending in dull summary. Is Ruth running out of steam, or does she just not want to send us her very best anymore?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • starjazz
  • Temple Hills, MD, United States
  • 05-18-11

Conflicted Intriguing Drawn Out Cozy Read

Not really sure how to describe a mystery that is truly drawn out and yet intriguing... The slow suspense and red herrings were not enough to say this was an enjoyable listen. I would recommend worthy of special sale but NOT a credit. It requires patience but draws you in.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Rahim
  • Hamilton, United States Minor Outlying Islands
  • 08-12-10

Very slow

I enjoyed the modern "gothic" novels of Barbara Michaels and had a friend recommend this book. Thick atmosphere, but terrible pacing- very slow moving. At the end of Part I, realized that only a handful of events had occurred that actually moved the plot forward. There is also a little skipping in the recording. I did like the narrator which is why I gave it two stars.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A horrid family

What did you love best about The Minotaur?

Barbara Vine's descriptions of loathsome people. I also like the fact that her books don't start off with the murder that needs to solved. Rather, the tension in the story builds and culminates with the murder.

What did you like best about this story?

The detailed descriptions of country life in England in the 60s.

Have you listened to any of Rosalyn Landor’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Never heard Rosalyn Landor before this. Great voice for characters.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Moved? Disturbed more like it. Some of the family members were truly unwell.

Any additional comments?

I really enjoy Barbara Vine's books, and this one has definitely been one of my favourites.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful