‘The Water’s Lovely’ by Ruth Rendell

My Review (3 stars out of 5)


Haunted by the death of her stepfather, Ismay believes she knows how he died, and who killed him, but talking about it with her sister and mother is too difficult. Years later, living in separate flats within the same house in Clapham, the sisters’ lives are changing. As their respective relationships with Ed and Andrew develop, Ismay is certain the time will come when she has to face the truth, whatever it is.

I have a memory of reading several Ruth Rendell novels many years ago, but for the life of me can’t recall which ones. As I tend to have several books on the go at the same time, I picked this one as an audiobook. To be honest, if I’d been reading it as a paperback, I’m not sure I’d have made it to the end. To be fair, the story, for the most part, proved interesting enough to keep me listening, but all the way through several issues kept niggling away at me. Firstly, the book is meant to be set in the early 2000s, but references to things like floppy discs (which were in use up until the late 1990s) make no sense and the idea that none of the characters seem able or willing to access email and the Internet, is simply too stupid. However, my main issue with the book is that all the characters, their attitudes and dialogue, reek of something set in the 1950s. The suggestion (by other reviewers) that the author pulled this one out of a pile of old manuscripts and did a bit of tweaking certainly rings true, but what is unforgivable is that Ms Rendell either couldn’t be bothered or was too long in the tooth to bring the story up to date and allow her characters to live in the real world.

I dare say I might get stamped on by Rendell fans, but this was a disappointing book from an author with a (perhaps undeserved) huge reputation. As you might expect, I won’t be reading any more of her work.

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