Blamed by her parents for the tragic death of a friend, Clodagh has been banished from their home in the countryside to a dingy basement flat and a meaningless existence in the city. Then she meets the inhabitants of the top floor of 15 Russia Road. Charismatic Silver, brutal Johnny, paranoid Liv and exotic Wim range across a London of roofs, eaves and ledges, unseen by the ordinary inhabitants, thrilling in the freedom and danger. Clodagh, haunted for two years by the accident on the pylon, finds that running the roofs with these fascinating misfits brings her back to life, but it seems that tragedy and misfortune may not be done with her yet …
- From the 2001 Penguin paperback edition
- Penguin Audiobook, 01/06/2000. Read by Frances Barber.
- The dust jacket of the hardback edition describes the novel as a "kind of mirror image" of King Solomon's Carpet.
June 01, 2000
Although I have done my best to render the appearance, atmosphere and architecture of Maida Vale and its environs in this novel, I have also allowed my imagination some play. Paddington Basin, the canal, the main streets, the churches, parks and gardens are much as they are in reality, but Russia Road does not exist and, though these are typical and characteristic names for the area, there are no such places as Torrington Gardens, Peterborough Avenue or Castlemaine Road.
"Barbara Vine's brilliantly atmospheric new thriller Grasshopper is the tale of Clodagh's recovery and liberation; it is also the tale of new mistakes, and their disastrous consequences."
- Roz Kaveney, Amazon.co.uk
A stunning evocation of the Maida Vale area (I went on a walking tour there shortly after reading the book and was astounded at how familiar the streets felt), Grasshopper continues the tradition of recent Vine novels in providing a glimmer of hope amidst the harsher realities of life. Jumping smoothly from present to recent past, the book is chilling but ultimately uplifting.