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The Birthday Present: A Novel
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Crown 2009
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Description
A deft, insightful, and compulsively readable exploration of obsessive desire—and the dark twists of fate that can shake the lives of even those most insulated by privilege, sophistication, and power.

Ivor Tesham is a handsome, single, young member of Parliament whose political star is on the rise. When he meets a woman in a chance encounter—a beautiful, leggy, married woman named Hebe—the two become lovers obsessed with their trysts, spiced up by what the newspapers like to call “adventure sex.”

It’s the dress-up and role-play that inspire Ivor to create a surprise birthday present for his beloved that involves a curbside kidnapping. It’s all intended as mock-dangerous foreplay, but then things take a dark turn.

After things go horribly wrong, Ivor begins to receive anonymous letters that reveal astonishingly specific details about the affair and its aftermath. Somehow he must keep his role from being...
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
03/10/2009
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307451996
ASIN:
B001NLKTOM
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Barbara Vine. (2009). The Birthday Present: A Novel. Crown.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Barbara Vine. 2009. The Birthday Present: A Novel. Crown.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Barbara Vine, The Birthday Present: A Novel. Crown, 2009.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Barbara Vine. The Birthday Present: A Novel. Crown, 2009. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 15:53:29
Date Updated:
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      • role: Author
      • fileAs: Vine, Barbara
      • bioText: Barbara Vine's acclaimed novels include The Minotaur, The Blood Doctor, and Anna's Book. She has won many awards for literary accomplishment, both as Barbara Vine and as Ruth Rendell, including three Edgar Awards and four Gold Daggers.

      • name: Barbara Vine
imprint
Crown
publishDate
2009-03-10T00:00:00-04:00
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title
The Birthday Present
fullDescription
A deft, insightful, and compulsively readable exploration of obsessive desire—and the dark twists of fate that can shake the lives of even those most insulated by privilege, sophistication, and power.

Ivor Tesham is a handsome, single, young member of Parliament whose political star is on the rise. When he meets a woman in a chance encounter—a beautiful, leggy, married woman named Hebe—the two become lovers obsessed with their trysts, spiced up by what the newspapers like to call “adventure sex.”

It’s the dress-up and role-play that inspire Ivor to create a surprise birthday present for his beloved that involves a curbside kidnapping. It’s all intended as mock-dangerous foreplay, but then things take a dark turn.

After things go horribly wrong, Ivor begins to receive anonymous letters that reveal astonishingly specific details about the affair and its aftermath. Somehow he must keep his role from being...
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: People
      • content: "One of the most remarkable novelists of her generation."
      • premium: False
      • source: Time
      • content: "The best mystery writer in the English-speaking world."
      • premium: False
      • source: The New York Times Book Review
      • content: "One of the finest practitioners of her craft in the English-speaking world."
      • premium: False
      • source: The New Yorker
      • content: "Her clear, shapely prose casts the mesmerizing spell of the confessional."
      • premium: False
      • source: Chicago Tribune
      • content: "A brilliant writer."
      • premium: False
      • source: Detroit Free Press
      • content: "Queen of suspense. . . . She's a master of technique."
      • premium: False
      • source: Scott Turow
      • content: "Surely one of the greatest novelists presently at work in our language."
      • premium: False
      • source: Tony Hillerman
      • content: "Those who haven't read her books have missed something unique and wonderful."
      • premium: False
      • source: P. D. James
      • content: "Barbara Vine has transcended her genre by her remarkable imaginative power to explore and illuminate the dark corners of the human psyche."
      • premium: False
      • source: Patricia Cornwell
      • content: "Unequivocally the most brilliant mystery writer of our time. She magnificently triumphs in a style that is uniquely hers and mesmerizing."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from January 26, 2009
        British master Vine (the pen name of Ruth Rendell), a life Labor peer who used her knowledge of politics in 2002’s The Blood Doctor
        to explore the personal rather than the political ramifications of power, does both in this intricate novel, which charts the wreckage caused by Ivor Tesham, a Conservative member of Parliament, who concocts a kinky present for his married mistress—a mock kidnapping that results in a mixup of identities and murder. While nothing links the MP to the crime, the elitist Tesham, with his callous attitude toward people and public service alike, realizes justice may eventually catch up with him. Vine knows “how we walk all the time on that thin crust that covers terrible abysses.” The consequences for the innocent victims of Tesham’s recklessness provide the book’s deep and genuine pathos. Full of psychological insight, this is an absolute must for Vine/Rendell enthusiasts—and those who have yet to encounter her genius.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        February 1, 2009
        Ruth Rendell's 13th pseudonymous novel traces the four years of unintended consequences following a Conservative MP's ill-advised attempt to spice up his sex life.

        If they hadn't been sexually adventurous, precocious, well-regarded statesman Ivor Tesham and glamorous housewife Hebe Furnal never would have gotten together so quickly and combustibly. But Ivor's birthday present to Hebe, in addition to the pearl necklace prudently indistinguishable from paste that he's already given her, raises the stakes several levels from dressing up and role-playing. Warning her only that she'll get a nice surprise if she's on a certain street at a certain time, he hires two men to kidnap her and deliver her, bound and gagged, to his bed—or rather to the bed of his sister Iris and her husband Rob Delgado, who've obligingly lent him their house without knowing what he has in mind. When this naughty but innocuous plan goes disastrously wrong, two people are killed; a millionaire's wife suffers a miscarriage and a nervous breakdown; Hebe's best friend, librarian Jane Atherton, is saddled with guilty knowledge without knowing what to do with it; and Ivor is left bobbing on a bubble of rising success that's threatened by any number of objects with the lethal potential of unexploded bombs (Jane's diary, Hebe's box of sex toys, that string of pearls) and variously complicit parties—his fiance Juliet Case, Hebe's benighted husband Gerry, IRA terrorist Sean Lynch and, finally, Jane, whose agonized inner conflicts and deepening madness show once more Rendell's unrivaled insight into the unacknowledged dark places of the psyche. The string of calamities that inevitably ensue is expertly braided with the political fortunes of the Conservatives and afterwards in a masterly rebuke to critics who think suspense novels are too insulated from social reality.

        Less dense and gloomy than most of Vine's work (The Minotaur, 2006, etc.), though that's a matter of degree. Despite an untidy and anticlimactic ending, as gripping a tale as you'll read this year.

        (COPYRIGHT (2009) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from March 1, 2009
        Ivor Tesham, a dashing member of Parliament, decides to give his married mistress, Hebe, an unusual birthday gift. He hires two men to kidnap her and transport her, bound and gagged, to their weekend love nest. Everything has been carefully plannedwhen the kidnappers' car is hit by a truck shortly after the abduction; Hebe and one of the kidnappers are killed, the other one is seriously injured. Ivor fears obsessively that the man will recover and tell the media the truth about his involvement. Vine ("The Minotaur") paints a disturbing picture of a man whose dark secret is driving him to the edge of sanity. The setup is a bit slow, but once everything is in place, the tension remains high. Highly recommended.Linda Oliver, MLIS, Colorado Springs

        Copyright 2009 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        February 1, 2009
        Vine, the pen name of Ruth Rendell (whose Reginald Wexford mysteries are among the best of contemporary British procedurals), turns in anotherinvolving stand-alonethat explores the twists and turns ofhuman behavior.Flipping between theperspectives of two unacquainted narrators, she chronicles the rise and fall of a self-indulgentBritish politician, whose careercollapses, in part, becauseof a tragic stroke of bad luck. Ivor Tesham, a rising star inJohn Majors liberal party, is shocked when he learns about the death of his mistress, killed in a car accident while on her way to him, bound andblindfolded, as the willing victim of a faux kidnapping meant to set the stage for a birthdaygift of adventurous sex. Fearing public censure, Tesham stays quiet, despite the advice from his sister and brother-in-law.As might be expected, hisselfish decisiongradually ripples outward, leading to unexpected consequences not only for himself but also for the other vicitims of the accidentespeciallythe womans troubled friend.As with her other psychological thrillers, Vine writes with calm elegance, slowly unravelling the story whileconstructing a strong sense ofplace, politics, and social class to support her players. Its the very ordinariness of her characters and the randomness of their lives thatcreate the drama here.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2009, American Library Association.)

popularity
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shortDescription
A deft, insightful, and compulsively readable exploration of obsessive desire—and the dark twists of fate that can shake the lives of even those most insulated by privilege, sophistication, and power.

Ivor Tesham is a handsome, single, young member of Parliament whose political star is on the rise. When he meets a woman in a chance encounter—a beautiful, leggy, married woman named Hebe—the two become lovers obsessed with their trysts, spiced up by what the newspapers like to call “adventure sex.”

It’s the dress-up and role-play that inspire Ivor to create a surprise birthday present for his beloved that involves a curbside kidnapping. It’s all intended as mock-dangerous foreplay, but then things take a dark turn.

After things go horribly wrong, Ivor begins to receive anonymous letters that reveal astonishingly specific details about the affair and its aftermath. Somehow he must keep his role from being...
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