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Vanity dies hard [Unknown Binding]

Ruth Rendell
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • ASIN: B0017HC51W
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Ruth Rendell has won many awards, including the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for 1976's best crime novel with A Demon in My View; a second Edgar in 1984 from the Mystery Writers of America for the best short story, 'The New Girl Friend'; and a Gold Dagger award for Live Flesh in 1986. She was also the winner of the 1990 Sunday Times Literary award, as well as the Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger. In 1996 she was awarded the CBE and in 1997 became a Life Peer.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars early ruth rendell. 7 Jan 2004
By S. Hapgood VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Vanity Dies Hard" was originally published in 1966, right at the beginning of Ruth Rendell's long and productive career. It's interest these days is mainly to see how it all began, but on the whole I feel this book isn't a patch on the exceptionally high standard we've come to expect from her over the past 25 years. Newly-married Alice Whittaker is concerned that she hasn't heard from her friend Nesta Drage for quite some time. On a visit to Nesta's town Alice decides to look her up, but finds that the address Nesta had given her doesn't exist. Not only that but Alice's family and friends don't seem particularly interested or concerned about Nesta's disappearance.
Rendell achieves an eerie quality when Alice is looking for Nesta. The bleak road where Nesta is said to have lived has a spooky, surreal quality to it, a bit like the sort of thing you'd get in a Ramsey Campbell novel. Unfortunately this isn't sustained, and about halfway through I began to get the feeling that this would all turn out to be a bit of a damp squib.
I thought the period quality might have some interest. After all, the 1960s is far enough back now to have a strong curiosity factor, but instead all we get is a depressingly dated feel, apart from Jackie's different-coloured cocktail cigarettes that is! A good job they don't do those anymore (not that I know of anyway) or everyone'd want them as a must-have fashion accessory! Perhaps I'm being unfairly biased against this book, as I came to it straight after reading "The Keys To The Street", which is absolutely brilliant. But really if you want prime Rendell, then go to her later stuff, from the 1980s onwards.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars . 5 May 2004
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
For fans of Rendell who admire her books, the way she turns the genre on its head, this is another brilliant example of Rendell's ingenuity. For new reader who like the conventional boundaries of the genre, this may not be quite so satisfying a book, because in Vanity Dies Hard, Rendell shatters any conventions you could care to think of.
Suffice to say, it is well-written, engaging, with a set of interesting and well-developed character. Too, here Rendell really takes her theme (i.e. vanity, what it can lead to, what it can cause, how it expresses itself in people) and runs with it! This is a marvellous exploration of vanity; she probes deeply into each of her characters with this interesting theme in mind.
This is yet another of her books that her publishers keep out of print, which is just a travesty. Until its reprinted this is a very hard little book to get hold of - so, to remedy that and spur her publishers on, email them! The more enquiries they receive, the quicker this book gets reprinted, and it must be. With Vanity Dies Hard, she turns everything we expect, everything we and the characters assume, on its head, so that we can be sure nothing in the world of Rendell is certain...And it all makes such beautiful sense. In the end, this is an incredibly clever book that will probably have you shaking your head at your own gullibility. Although it doesn't have the power of some her later books, this novel of hysteria and vanity is a unique gem from RR.
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