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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Crocodile Bird, Ruth Rendell
Because I am lazy and also can say it no better, by way of a synopsis I am just going to copy from this book's blurb:
"Liza and her mother have led a strange, enclosed life in their remote home, the gatehouse of a country mansion. But now all this must end. Eve has told Liza she must leave. Because Eve has killed a man. And he is not the first.
At seventeen...
Published on 8 Jun 2004 by RachelWalker

versus
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "A Hundred and One Nights"
No - that's not how long it will take you to read this novel! Despite the cop-out ending, I did enjoy it. What I do not so much enjoy is Rendell's quirk of feeling she must 'educate' the reader out of commonly subscribed-to errors in the writing and speaking of the English language. This would be less unbearable if she did not make numerous such errors herself. The story...
Published on 30 Mar 2012 by Glilla Bear


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Crocodile Bird, Ruth Rendell, 8 Jun 2004
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Crocodile Bird (Paperback)
Because I am lazy and also can say it no better, by way of a synopsis I am just going to copy from this book's blurb:
"Liza and her mother have led a strange, enclosed life in their remote home, the gatehouse of a country mansion. But now all this must end. Eve has told Liza she must leave. Because Eve has killed a man. And he is not the first.
At seventeen years of age, with 100 in cash, Liza is cast adrift into a terrifying world she has never known. But she is not alone. For there is one secret that she has kept from her mother - her love-affair with Sean, the young man from the big house. With him, Liza gradually learns about the world, about herself, and must come to terms with the possibility that the murderous violence of her mother may also be present in her."
The Crocodile Bird (I love that title) is one of those very curious Rendell titles: one that is more literature than a crime novel, and one that is also very close to the style of the books published under her Barbara Vine name, in that it deals heavily with ideas about the effect of hidden crimes from the past coming to haunt the present. Indeed, this should probably have been published under that other name, so similar is it in style.
If I were forced to pick a favourite title by Rendell...no, strike that. I couldn't possibly choose a favourite. If I were forced to pick a top five, this would unquestionably be in there somewhere. Thinking about it, though, I am finding it hard to elucidate upon exactly why, apart from saying something like, It's brilliant. It is, that is true, but there is far more that can be said about it.
Everything about it is fascinating: How Liza copes as she is forced to venture out alone into the world and "discover" everything her mother has kept hidden from her; the relationship between Liza and her mother; the developing relationship between Liza and Shaun, as she gradually grows more dependent, away from her "protector"; the gradual unfolding of the events from the past, and the tale of Liza's upbringing, isolated in the gatehouse. It's Atwoodesque dual narrative is blended seamlessly into one. and the atmosphere grows incrementally more sinister as Rendell sticks each needle into the doll with relish.
It's not as crime-ey as her other books, either; there's little mystery, only carefully explored tension and possibility. It is delicate and graceful, and the ending is a delight. It is entirely different in tone from the norm of Rendell finales: it is less catastrophic, and unlike many of her books little of the restrained brutality manages to seep out into the conclusion. Instead, we have an ending that tells us that sometimes, things may not turn out as badly as we expect. They may not turn out as we would wish, but people can overcome hurdles and the damage of their lives and have functional, normal lives. We are not necessarily confined by our upbringing.
It's a fascinating, compelling and powerful book. Observing Liza as she finds her way in the world is a priceless experience, as she marvels at things like TV and literature. Rendell shows us the quirks of our world, and she makes the mundane aspects of it which we are all so familiar with seem magical and remarkable, when seen from the eyes of one who has never known it before. This, in all justice, should have been Booker-winning stuff.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Crocodile Bird, Ruth Rendell, 8 Jun 2004
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Crocodile Bird (Paperback)
Because I am lazy and also can say it no better, by way of a synopsis I am just going to copy from this book's blurb:
"Liza and her mother have led a strange, enclosed life in their remote home, the gatehouse of a country mansion. But now all this must end. Eve has told Liza she must leave. Because Eve has killed a man. And he is not the first.
At seventeen years of age, with 100 in cash, Liza is cast adrift into a terrifying world she has never known. But she is not alone. For there is one secret that she has kept from her mother - her love-affair with Sean, the young man from the big house. With him, Liza gradually learns about the world, about herself, and must come to terms with the possibility that the murderous violence of her mother may also be present in her."
The Crocodile Bird (I love that title) is one of those very curious Rendell titles: one that is more literature than a crime novel, and one that is also very close to the style of the books published under her Barbara Vine name, in that it deals heavily with ideas about the effect of hidden crimes from the past coming to haunt the present. Indeed, this should probably have been published under that other name, so similar is it in style.
If I were forced to pick a favourite title by Rendell...no, strike that. I couldn't possibly choose a favourite. If I were forced to pick a top five, this would unquestionably be in there somewhere. Thinking about it, though, I am finding it hard to elucidate upon exactly why, apart from saying something like, It's brilliant. It is, that is true, but there is far more that can be said about it.
Everything about it is fascinating: How Liza copes as she is forced to venture out alone into the world and "discover" everything her mother has kept hidden from her; the relationship between Liza and her mother; the developing relationship between Liza and Shaun, as she gradually grows more dependent, away from her "protector"; the gradual unfolding of the events from the past, and the tale of Liza's upbringing, isolated in the gatehouse. It's Atwoodesque dual narrative is blended seamlessly into one. and the atmosphere grows incrementally more sinister as Rendell sticks each needle into the doll with relish.
It's not as crime-ey as her other books, either; there's little mystery, only carefully explored tension and possibility. It is delicate and graceful, and the ending is a delight. It is entirely different in tone from the norm of Rendell finales: it is less catastrophic, and unlike many of her books little of the restrained brutality manages to seep out into the conclusion. Instead, we have an ending that tells us that sometimes, things may not turn out as badly as we expect. They may not turn out as we would wish, but people can overcome hurdles and the damage of their lives and have functional, normal lives. We are not necessarily confined by our upbringing.
It's a fascinating, compelling and powerful book. Observing Liza as she finds her way in the world is a priceless experience, as she marvels at things like TV and literature. Rendell shows us the quirks of our world, and she makes the mundane aspects of it which we are all so familiar with seem magical and remarkable, when seen from the eyes of one who has never known it before. This, in all justice, should have been Booker-winning stuff.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "To be driven to want to kill must be a terrible burden.", 25 Feb 2006
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Crocodile Bird (Unbound)
In one of her most "psychological" novels, Ruth Rendell focuses on Liza, a sixteen-year-old girl whose mother, Eve, tells her she must flee alone from the only home she has ever known and her mother's "protection." Home schooled in the remote countryside, kept away from TV and radio, and with no friends of her own, Liza learns that her mother is about to be arrested for murder and that she herself may be considered an accessory if she is caught. Running to her boyfriend Sean, a young man hired to work on the estate where her mother works, Liza unfolds the story of Eve, her mother, through tales she likens to those of Scheherazade, keeping her boyfriend interested in the outcome of her own story by slowly unveiling the details of more than one murder.
As Liza recreates her earliest years and the disappearances of her mother's suitors, she is also exploring her own growing sense of independence, her sexuality, her need to experience the world beyond Shrove House, and her desire for books and serious schooling. Skillfully and subtly, Rendell draws parallels between Liza's motivations and the presumed motivations of the reader, making this strange and limited girl seem more normal, less bizarre, despite her upbringing. Liza's acceptance of the men's fates as a "normal" part of her life, and her ingenuousness, increase the horror and tension.
Rendell's careful rendering of details and her juxtaposition of bloody scenes with idyllic country living make the story come alive, while Liza's normal curiosity about other people and her love of Sean throw her mother's damaged psyche and psychotic need to "protect" herself into sharp relief. Despite the fact that the reader knows from the outset that Eve has committed murder and is about to be arrested, the author develops considerable suspense about Liza's own life and her feelings for her mother.
Because Liza has observed her mother committing several murders associated with love and/or love-making, her own sexual freedom and lack of inhibition regarding Sean are surprising and seem emotionally incongruous, and some readers will not accept this implausible, but crucial, element. The story is neatly constructed with its flashbacks, however, and Rendell's association of Liza's story telling with the legend of Scheherazade creates neat associations with other serial murders. Suspenseful and entertaining. n Mary Whipple
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cunning, slightly cynical thriller., 19 Sep 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Crocodile Bird (Paperback)
This is an excellent book by one of the graetest writers working today. From the start this book is strange in its content. You learn more and more about the characters as you go along, but never quite knowing everything. This book works as a murder mystery, a study into isolation and a somewhat cynical look at habits and characters in the modern world. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Crocodile Bird, Ruth Rendell, 8 Jun 2004
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Crocodile Bird (Paperback)
Because I am lazy and also can say it no better, by way of a synopsis I am just going to copy from this book's blurb:
"Liza and her mother have led a strange, enclosed life in their remote home, the gatehouse of a country mansion. But now all this must end. Eve has told Liza she must leave. Because Eve has killed a man. And he is not the first.
At seventeen years of age, with 100 in cash, Liza is cast adrift into a terrifying world she has never known. But she is not alone. For there is one secret that she has kept from her mother - her love-affair with Sean, the young man from the big house. With him, Liza gradually learns about the world, about herself, and must come to terms with the possibility that the murderous violence of her mother may also be present in her."
The Crocodile Bird (I love that title) is one of those very curious Rendell titles: one that is more literature than a crime novel, and one that is also very close to the style of the books published under her Barbara Vine name, in that it deals heavily with ideas about the effect of hidden crimes from the past coming to haunt the present. Indeed, this should probably have been published under that other name, so similar is it in style.
If I were forced to pick a favourite title by Rendell...no, strike that. I couldn't possibly choose a favourite. If I were forced to pick a top five, this would unquestionably be in there somewhere. Thinking about it, though, I am finding it hard to elucidate upon exactly why, apart from saying something like, It's brilliant. It is, that is true, but there is far more that can be said about it.
Everything about it is fascinating: How Liza copes as she is forced to venture out alone into the world and "discover" everything her mother has kept hidden from her; the relationship between Liza and her mother; the developing relationship between Liza and Shaun, as she gradually grows more dependent, away from her "protector"; the gradual unfolding of the events from the past, and the tale of Liza's upbringing, isolated in the gatehouse. It's Atwoodesque dual narrative is blended seamlessly into one. and the atmosphere grows incrementally more sinister as Rendell sticks each needle into the doll with relish.
It's not as crime-ey as her other books, either; there's little mystery, only carefully explored tension and possibility. It is delicate and graceful, and the ending is a delight. It is entirely different in tone from the norm of Rendell finales: it is less catastrophic, and unlike many of her books little of the restrained brutality manages to seep out into the conclusion. Instead, we have an ending that tells us that sometimes, things may not turn out as badly as we expect. They may not turn out as we would wish, but people can overcome hurdles and the damage of their lives and have functional, normal lives. We are not necessarily confined by our upbringing.
It's a fascinating, compelling and powerful book. Observing Liza as she finds her way in the world is a priceless experience, as she marvels at things like TV and literature. Rendell shows us the quirks of our world, and she makes the mundane aspects of it which we are all so familiar with seem magical and remarkable, when seen from the eyes of one who has never known it before. This, in all justice, should have been Booker-winning stuff.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Queen of suspense, 12 May 2014
I have to say that Ruth Rendell is one of my favourite writers and this classic is certainly close to her best. Juliet Stevenson reads superbly, in a clear and intimate style which well suits the confessional, Scheherazade style of the book’s structure. Rendell is at her best in tales that touch on outsiders, in this case Eve, a beautiful hippy chick recluse rearing her only daughter in the type of isolation usually associated with long lost children reared by wolves (or maybe this is no coincidence given Eve’s casually predatory nature). It touches on many issues – for example, to have a moral compass do we have to learn about morality from our parents? I particularly liked Shaun, Liza’s working class, poorly spoken but essentially rule-abiding boyfriend whose commentaries supply an ironic counterpoint to Liza’s amoral thinking. The only weakness I felt was the obvious significance of Liza’s eventual link to an educated middle class family and where that was going to lead. But on the other hand, Rendell can skewer certain hypocrisies so well, for example the ‘anarchist’ earring wearing painter Bruno who abandons his politics overnight to become a keen property owner when he inherits his mother’s money. I think it is this parading of our psychological frailties in the most entertaining and tautly delivered narratives that truly make Rendell the queen of suspense.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Crocadile bird, 8 Sep 2013
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This was an unusual story and carried a macabre theme which led the reader to fear a dark ending which happily did not materialise.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 3 Dec 2012
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Highly recommended, I've read this at least 6 times! I'd love to see this dramatised for television. I'd also love to see a sequel written. What became of Eve and Liza?
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4.0 out of 5 stars In the style of Barbara Vine, 11 Oct 2010
This review is from: The Crocodile Bird (Paperback)
I am a huge fan of Rendell as Barbara Vine. This book doesn't disappoint and has you wondering until the last few pages. Will she or won't she? Somehow the character of Eve doesn't come through as it's as if her only function in the book is how she affects Liza. I've thought hard about the ending and concluded that it's the best possible one!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Synopsis, 10 Aug 2008
When her mother, Eve, tells Liza that she must leave their remote home, the gatehouse of a country mansion, Liza is terrified. Although seventeen years of age, she has never been on a bus or a train, has never played with a child of her own age. She has almost no knowledge of a world described by her mother as evil and destructive. Their strange, enclosed life together is over because Eve has killed a man. And he is not the first.
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The Crocodile Bird
The Crocodile Bird by Ruth Rendell (Paperback - 29 Sep 1994)
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