It’s late spring of 1990 and a love affair is flourishing: between Ivor Tesham, a thirty-three year old rising star of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government, and Hebe Furnal, a stunning North London housewife stuck in a dull marriage. What excitement Hebe lacks at home, however, is amply compensated for by the well-bred and intensely attractive Tesham – an ardent womanizer and ambitious politican.
On the eve of her twenty-eighth birthday, Tesham decides to give Hebe a present to remember: something far more memorable than, say, the costly string of pearls he’s already lavished upon her. Involving a fashionable new practice known as ‘adventure sex’, a man arranges for his unsuspecting but otherwise willing girlfriend to be snatched from the street, bound and gagged, and delivered to him at a mutually agreed venue …
Set amidst an age of IRA bombings, the first Gulf War, and sleazy politics, The Birthday Present is the gripping story of a fall from grace, and of a man who carries within him all the hypocrisy, greed and self-obsession of a troubled era.
I was attracted to this ‘V’ novel (for my A to Z Challenge) for several reasons: it was a thriller, therefore also good for the Mystery & Suspense Challenge; Barbara Vine is a pen name for Ruth Rendell, I’ve never read anything of hers, but used to love the dramas on TV; and I loved the cover – I love sexy red shoes!
Unfortunately I was disappointed. I found the pace quite slow which meant it wasn’t holding my attention very well. I also didn’t really like either of the main characters – Ivor to be honest is a bit of a dick, and Jane is a little mental – which I found a problem, even though I liked all the other characters.
I’ve just looked on Amazon for other reviews of this book to see if I was missing something, and there were a few that said they loved Vine’s previous work and were disappointed in this. That kind of makes me feel better – it also makes me want to read more of her work – both as Vine, and as herself. Unfortunately though, I can’t recommend this one (some people do on Amazon though, so it just shows different people have different tastes!).