King Solomon's Carpet review ☆ 103

King Solomon's Carpet

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Sper one day leads him to Jarvis's where he takes up residence seduces Alice and begins to gather details about the operation of the Underground in preparation for a cataclysmic bombing It's no shame for VineRendell to fall short of her peerless model the air of foreboding is as expertly invoked as ever but the story following one misfit after another but never bringing them very much closer together even at the inevitable tolling of the schoolhouse bell lacks the momentum of Conrad or of such earlier triumphs as A Judgment in Stone Richly textured but slow moving a thriller for readers who think it's better to travel hopelessly than to arrive Kirkus Revie If you have ever been in any underground system then you know the mystery Okay maybe it lacks the history of London’s – for instance my city’s underground systems has never been used as a bomb shelter but it has many similarities – “lost” stops a schedule only a psychic can figure out a what is that smell feel an in comprehensible map You get the idea King Solomon’s Carpet is book where the subway system plays an important part In fact it’s the central character Don’t let the blurb on the back cover fool into thinking otherwise The star of the show is neither Alice nor her lovers It’s not Tina and the kids It’s not Jarvis It’s the UNDERGROUND It’s the threatening nature of the Underground any underground really that makes the book work It makes all users eual and it has its own rules that you don’t really know until after a while And then I’m sure that SEPTA my local public transit is using its underground to call forth the dreaded Schuylkill River Monster Go ahead laugh at me but when Philly is taken over by the hideous monster flooding the tunnels ringing the Liberty and making me head of the library system we’ll see whose laughing at whom then won’t we? Especially when we take over the cheese steak market Seriously no Philly Cheese steak is authentic unless you got it in Philly Seriously though the Underground and mood are the stars of the novel It is curiosity and familiarity that compels the reader to finish the book Not Rendell’s best work but not bed MARTINIQUE. : Produits du terroir et recettes traditionnelles really know until after a while And then I’m sure that SEPTA my local public transit is using its underground to call forth the dreaded Schuylkill River Monster Go ahead laugh at me but when Philly is taken over by the hideous monster flooding the tunnels

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King Solomon's magic carpet is the London Underground running past the disused old school building that houses the most ill assorted covey that Vine Ruth Rendell has brought together since A Fatal Inversion for this updating of Conrad's novel of terrorist conspiracy The Secret Agent Tom Murray is a promising musician reduced to illegal busking in Underground stations and a sad little love affair with his accompanist Alice who left her husband and newborn baby taking only her violin Together with Jasper Darne another dropout from his family who likes to ride on the tops of Underground carriages and Jed Lowrie a Safeguard volunteer who's left behind his own I have read Ruth Rendell's novels and those under her pen name Barbara Vine Like The Bridesmaid I found this novel uite bleak and gothic and yet also like The Bridesmaid I couldn't stop reading it The author takes us into the lives of broken families disturbed and frightened runaways and musicians who busk on the London Underground wondering if they've thrown away their last chance to be great Along the way the reader learns a lot about the London Underground and is treated to some of the most harrowing passages I've ever read when some kids playing hooky come up with a VERY BAD WAY to pass the time I don't think of myself as someone who always indulges in the darkest of dark stories and yet what fascinated me was how each of these characters was a train wreck in a different way pardon the expression and you just had to find out how bad the wreck would get Pretty bad And yet there are also friendships and relationships which are lovely if melancholy Loved it MARTINIQUE. : Produits du terroir et recettes traditionnelles ride on the tops of Underground carriages and Jed Lowrie a Safeguard volunteer who's left behind his own I have

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Family to live for his hunting hawk Abelard they live in a failed schoolhouse whose bell tolled for the only time in memory when the headmaster hanged himself from its rope The school's owned by the old man's grandson Jarv Stringer who now passes the time by writing a book on the Underground and taking in waifs and strays while his aunt Cecilia Darne Jasper's grandmother uietly declines around the corner under the variously watchful eyes of her relatives and her longtime companion Daphne Bleech Palmer The apple of discord in this extended dysfunctional family is sinister Axel Jonas who rides the trains with a dancing bear actually a man named Ivan until Ja When I first started reading this book I was interested then I lost my interest but kept reading and then BOOM I was hooked A very unusual story with a cast of misfit characters living in an old schoolhouse where the owner Jarvis rents out rooms to people in need The school is situated on a rail lines and the school house shakes when the trains roll by Jarvis is obsessed with the London Transportation System aka the subway or 'tube' system He is so obsessed that he is writing the history of the London Underground and has travelled the world to ride on other subway systems So the novel is filled with facts about the building of the London underground which was a herculean effort and engineering marvel And is a truly fascinating history in my mindThe 'underground' is essentially a character in the story the underground figures prominently in all the characters lives within the novelJed lives with his beloved hawk Abelard in the headmaster's study Jed volunteers with a group of concerned citizens who ride the subways to keep them safe for travellersThere is Tom living in classroom 5 a promising young musician close to getting his degree when he is injured in a motorcycle accident and undergoes a personality shift due to an undiagnosed head injury Tom busks in the tube stations with an assortment of musicians they are uite good but are constantly being moved on and don't make a living wageThere is Tina and her two children Jasper and Bienvida and there is Tina's mother Cecilia Cecilia doesn't live in the schoolhouse she lives nearby and it was her brother who was the original owner of the schoolhouse when it was an actual girls school and who later hung himself with the bell rope and the bell subseuently tolled his death The bell has not rung since that time decades earlierTina's ten year old son Jasper spends his days in the subway trains with a small gang of boys instead of going to school Eventually he becomes a subway roof surfer There is no standing up on the London underground he must lay flat out on the slippery roof of the train and find a way to hold on as the train zooms through the thick darkness of the tunnelsThere is beautiful Alice a young woman who wants to be a concert violinist and has a tragic back story which I won't reveal as I think it's a spoiler She moves into a classroom in the schoolAnd we meet a man and a man in a bear costume who are fixtures in the underground Cecilia meets them on the train and they frighten her and Jasper meets them in an unexpected way in a tube station Events start to move uickly and a mystery and a love affair build And all of a sudden the reader is totally caught up in what is going to happen nextThis book is uite an accomplishment when I think back on it All the characters are well drawn and there are numerous plots running concurrently involving different characters We are given a view of life through the elderly Cecilia's eyes through ten year old Jaspers and youngish adults Alice Tom and Tina All the stories become interwoven in fascinating ways Barbara Vine aka Ruth Rendell is a terrific writer and while this novel had its bumps in the beginning it was well worth the time to read I thoroughly enjoyed it and was very surprised at the ending which was satisfying MARTINIQUE. : Produits du terroir et recettes traditionnelles rope and the bell subseuently tolled his death The bell has not


10 thoughts on “King Solomon's Carpet

  1. says:

    I should have trusted my instinct which was that I wouldn't like another Barbara Vine book but I was fooled by the blurb saying it was a modern day take on Conrad's Secret Agent which I enjoyed immensely Now that I have finished I can somewhat comprehend that description but while Conrad's story thrilled fascinated me this one mostly bored me It is a psychological thriller; apparently that means it is about people's thoughts emotions with very little action and most of that occurring off stage The one person whose thoughts I would have been interested in was of course the one whose thoughts and motivations are not given And that is one of my biggest complaints of all in the end there is no resolution or explanation I could have put up with all the character driven stuff if the plot had had some point view spoilerWhy did Axel want to bomb the tube? Did it have something to do with his sister or was he driven by some anarchist philosophy or what? hide spoiler


  2. says:

    SynopsisblurbKing Solomon's Carpet is a prize winning crime classic from bestselling author Barbara VineWinner of the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger Award'The tension grows an overwhelming sense of foreboding when the unravelling takes place it is brilliantly unexpected and original' The TimesJarvis Stringer lives in a crumbling schoolhouse overlooking a tube line compiling his obsessive secret history of London's Underground His presence and his strange house draw a band of misfits into his orbit young Alice who has run away from her husband and baby; Tom the busker who rescues her; truant Jasper who gets his kicks on the tube; and mysterious Axel whose dark secret later casts a shadow over all of their livesDispossessed and outcast those who come to inhabit Jarvis's schoolhouse are gradually brought closer together in violent and unforeseen ways by London's forbidding and dangerous Underground My takeI’m fairly sure I read something from Ruth Rendell back in my schooldays so long ago in fact it probably doesn’t count even if I could recall what is was which I can’t King Solomon’s Carpet then is my first real taste of her writingAlthough this one won the Gold Dagger back in 1991 there probably isn’t an awful lot of crime within the pages It’s a novel of individual characters including three generations of the one family crossing paths with others against the backdrop of the London Underground and a former schoolhouse which now serves as lodgings for some of the castInterspersed in the narrative are facts regarding the Underground its history and evolution and expansion from its conception as one man’s idea Charles Pearson a Victorian visionary – “A poor man is chained to the spot He has not the leisure to walk and he has not money to ride a distance to his work”I really liked this book mainly for the characters and the development of the relationships between the main players as well as the Underground history lessonFamily;A grandmother – Cecilia affluent and a bit judgementalA daughter – Tina carefree with a somewhat feckless attitude to life easy come easy go easy with the men she crosses paths withTina’s two children one boy one girl;The girl – Bienvida perceptive to her grandmother’s moods and considerate in her responses regarding her mother both knowing what lies both little white ones and those by omission are being toldThe boy – Jasper adventurous a regular truant and addicted to the thrills of sledging on the London Underground Sledging – the art of riding on a tube train’s roof between stations I’m curious to know if this is or was an actual phenomenon and a childhood initiation rite or if it is in fact something the author dreamt up? The only real references to it that I can find send me back to this book Jasper’s a free spirit like his mother a pre teen with a tattooOther significant characters;Alice – a wife and mother who abandons her husband and young infant daughter to follow her dream of playing the violinTom a busker slightly damaged and with an adjusted personality after a car accidentJarvis Stringer – landlord and fervent Underground enthusiast He is to trains what Jeremy Clarkson is to cars albeit without the right wing rhetoric and polemic utteringsAxel Jonas – a bit of a mystery man charming when he wants to be aloof indifferent sometimes cruel – not a man to be trustedThe connections and evolving relationships drive the narrative though we do have a man with a plan that delivers a fairly explosive climax4 from 5Very enjoyable definitely I want to read from Ruth Rendell both writing as Ruth but probably not Inspector Wexford and as Barbara VineRead in January 2017Published – 1991Page count – 358Source – owned copyFormat – second hand paperbackhttpcol2910blogspotcouk201703


  3. says:

    I have read Ruth Rendell's novels and those under her pen name Barbara Vine Like The Bridesmaid I found this novel uite bleak and gothic and yet also like The Bridesmaid I couldn't stop reading it The author takes us into the lives of broken families disturbed and frightened runaways and musicians who busk on the London Underground wondering if they've thrown away their last chance to be great Along the way the reader learns a lot about the London Underground and is treated to some of the most harrowing passages I've ever read when some kids playing hooky come up with a VERY BAD WAY to pass the time I don't think of myself as someone who always indulges in the darkest of dark stories and yet what fascinated me was how each of these characters was a train wreck in a different way pardon the expression and you just had to find out how bad the wreck would get Pretty bad And yet there are also friendships and relationships which are lovely if melancholy Loved it


  4. says:

    I loved the fact that some history of the London Underground is interspersed with the plot in this novel I don't know why because I don't live in London but I've always found stories about the tube's background fascinating The novel has several characters all somehow connected with an old school house converted into an eccentric boarding house For me the best and easily the most affecting story was that of Cecilia and her best friend Daphne I would have been happy to read that on its own


  5. says:

    The closest author out there to come close to matching Donna Tartt This book reminded me a lot of The Secret History though it's not uite as long Beautifully written and superbly done The characters stay with you long after reading


  6. says:

    When I first started reading this book I was interested then I lost my interest but kept reading and then BOOM I was hooked A very unusual story with a cast of misfit characters living in an old schoolhouse where the owner Jarvis rents out rooms to people in need The school is situated on a rail lines and the school house shakes when the trains roll by Jarvis is obsessed with the London Transportation System aka the subway or 'tube' system He is so obsessed that he is writing the history of the London Underground and has travelled the world to ride on other subway systems So the novel is filled with facts about the building of the London underground which was a herculean effort and engineering marvel And is a truly fascinating history in my mindThe 'underground' is essentially a character in the story the underground figures prominently in all the characters lives within the novelJed lives with his beloved hawk Abelard in the headmaster's study Jed volunteers with a group of concerned citizens who ride the subways to keep them safe for travellersThere is Tom living in classroom 5 a promising young musician close to getting his degree when he is injured in a motorcycle accident and undergoes a personality shift due to an undiagnosed head injury Tom busks in the tube stations with an assortment of musicians they are uite good but are constantly being moved on and don't make a living wageThere is Tina and her two children Jasper and Bienvida and there is Tina's mother Cecilia Cecilia doesn't live in the schoolhouse she lives nearby and it was her brother who was the original owner of the schoolhouse when it was an actual girls school and who later hung himself with the bell rope and the bell subseuently tolled his death The bell has not rung since that time decades earlierTina's ten year old son Jasper spends his days in the subway trains with a small gang of boys instead of going to school Eventually he becomes a subway roof surfer There is no standing up on the London underground he must lay flat out on the slippery roof of the train and find a way to hold on as the train zooms through the thick darkness of the tunnelsThere is beautiful Alice a young woman who wants to be a concert violinist and has a tragic back story which I won't reveal as I think it's a spoiler She moves into a classroom in the schoolAnd we meet a man and a man in a bear costume who are fixtures in the underground Cecilia meets them on the train and they frighten her and Jasper meets them in an unexpected way in a tube station Events start to move uickly and a mystery and a love affair build And all of a sudden the reader is totally caught up in what is going to happen nextThis book is uite an accomplishment when I think back on it All the characters are well drawn and there are numerous plots running concurrently involving different characters We are given a view of life through the elderly Cecilia's eyes through ten year old Jaspers and youngish adults Alice Tom and Tina All the stories become interwoven in fascinating ways Barbara Vine aka Ruth Rendell is a terrific writer and while this novel had its bumps in the beginning it was well worth the time to read I thoroughly enjoyed it and was very surprised at the ending which was satisfying


  7. says:

    If you have ever been in any underground system then you know the mystery Okay maybe it lacks the history of London’s – for instance my city’s underground systems has never been used as a bomb shelter but it has many similarities – “lost” stops a schedule only a psychic can figure out a what is that smell feel an in comprehensible map You get the idea King Solomon’s Carpet is book where the subway system plays an important part In fact it’s the central character Don’t let the blurb on the back cover fool into thinking otherwise The star of the show is neither Alice nor her lovers It’s not Tina and the kids It’s not Jarvis It’s the UNDERGROUND It’s the threatening nature of the Underground any underground really that makes the book work It makes all users eual and it has its own rules that you don’t really know until after a while And then I’m sure that SEPTA my local public transit is using its underground to call forth the dreaded Schuylkill River Monster Go ahead laugh at me but when Philly is taken over by the hideous monster flooding the tunnels ringing the Liberty and making me head of the library system we’ll see whose laughing at whom then won’t we? Especially when we take over the cheese steak market Seriously no Philly Cheese steak is authentic unless you got it in Philly Seriously though the Underground and mood are the stars of the novel It is curiosity and familiarity that compels the reader to finish the book Not Rendell’s best work but not bed


  8. says:

    This book takes the reader on a weird meandering nightmare of a journey through the eyes of a group of misfits living in a decrepit former school house in North London Far creepier than the characters in A Fatal Inversion here Vine gives us a loner who smells of rotting meat due to the hawk he dotes on a violinist who has abandoned her husband and baby daughter a narcissistic musician potentially brain damaged following a road accident and the sinister Axel Jonas who travels the tube leading a disfigured companion dressed as a bear terrorising commuters The common thread between them is Jarvis the owner of the house who is obsessed with and writing a book about the London Underground excerpts of which are included in the novel And that's it really There's no plot to speak of There is a dramatic denouement but it took me two thirds of the book to figure out the connections that lead to it Still I enjoyed the characters and Vine's beautiful prose It's a mystery to me that she was considered a genre writer this book particularly along with a Fatal Inversion seem to me to be literary fiction which just happen to include elements of suspense


  9. says:

    Shame on me but I've never read either Ruth or her alter ego Barbara Crime fiction RR's usual genre doesn't get me excited at all But a friend recommended this and I'm so glad she did First of all it's steeped in the mysteries of the Underground I'm a real London Tube freak Second the lady has earned her golden daggers and whatnot Interesting conflicted characters who get their hooks into you and you want to get back to Terrific descriptive passages either of the minutae of a personally significant but seemingly trivial act or heart stopping action seuences And nothing is as it seems in a very good way Strangely it doesn't start too well There's a lot of time spent on a character who isn't relevant even in hindsight and allowing that the author might be aiming for thematic resonance Then there's an enormous back story dump I'm not convinced we need either But persevere for once the story gets going it's terrificBravo BarbaraRuth this book's a keeper


  10. says:

    This is probably the fifth or sixth time I've read this novel and as I age I definitely find myself getting out of it This read through I was struck by the sheer craftsmanship that went into making the elegant structure of the book With a greater understanding of adult relationships than I had as a teenager I saw that between Tom and Alice as far unbalanced from the start than I had done before For me one of the best things about the novel is the relationship between Cecilia and DaphneOddly I found the ending of the novel slightly disappointing on this read only because consigning Alice to a psychiatric hospital at the end seems to me now like a rather lazy and old fashioned fate for her Everything else was perfect