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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Her best for some time in my opinion
It is always interesting to read the thoughts of other reviewers here on Amazon but I was rather surprised a self-confessed Rendell buff would be disappointed with this latest book. I would rate it as her best written under her own name for several years. As another reviewer has pointed out her worst book was The Rotweiler and that was only three years ago. I really...
Published on 13 Nov 2006 by LizUpton

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where's the thrill?
I felt very disappointed with this novel. Not being a prolific Rendell reader, I had expected it to be as great a read as; A Dark Adapted Eye, but unfortunately it was not. A years old crime sketched our for us in the first few chapters, and a host of slightly unbelievable characters set in a London that bears no reality to the actual place.
I kept on with it and the...
Published 17 months ago by mcpog


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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Her best for some time in my opinion, 13 Nov 2006
By 
This review is from: The Water's Lovely (Hardcover)
It is always interesting to read the thoughts of other reviewers here on Amazon but I was rather surprised a self-confessed Rendell buff would be disappointed with this latest book. I would rate it as her best written under her own name for several years. As another reviewer has pointed out her worst book was The Rotweiler and that was only three years ago. I really cannot imagine how anyone could prefer that to this!

The two sisters Ismay and Heather are the main characters and both are convincing and realistic. What I found particularly interesting is the way my opinions of them changed over the course of the story. Ismay starts out as the normal sister but gradually goes to pieces after she is dumped by her boyfriend. Anyone who has ever been dumped by someone they just could not get over will feel a lot of sympathy for some of the mad and desperate things Ismay does to try and get him back. The other sister Heather, who is a suspected murderer, starts out strange and reclusive but matures into a sensible, loving and determined young woman.

This is not a conventional mystery but then Ruth Rendell is always original and inventive in her psychological thrillers. The main crime in the book is the one Heather may have commited years ago but the novel is still full of suspense as we wait to see if Heather will be exposed and her happiness ruined. There is a big surprise at the end of the novel which is very tragic and the final scene is is ominous and chilling.

Of course tastes differ and all these reviews are just matters of opinion but for what its worth I would recommend this book to any Ruth Rendell fan. I am already looking forward to her next!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Places to Live, 24 Nov 2006
By 
Eileen Pollock (New York, NY) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Water's Lovely (Hardcover)
I ordered The Water's Lovely from Canada because it is unavailable still in the U.S. It is a pleasure to read the intelligent reviews of Rachel Walker and M.D. Smart on this page - I wish I knew people who appreciated Ruth Rendell as they obviously do. As for the novel - well, as M.D. Smart said, I tried to read it slowly to make the pleasure last, but midway through I was gripped and abandoned myself to a pell-mell pace, eager to learn what would next unfold. This is a wrenching and poignant and funny book. Marion Melville is my absolute favorite character, an often blundering but eventually triumphant manipulator. She dances through the storyline, alighting on each character for a pas de deux, then skittering away, always with a new plot and ploy. No one mentioned what I see as the theme of these intermingled tales (and tales they are - disparate lives that intertwine) - and that is home. So many of the characters are motivated by seeking a place to live. Their living situations define them. From the homeless beggar who keeps returning to his sister's flat to the duplex where Ismay and Heather live, so many of the plot twists turn on living circumstances and the search for home. I too felt there was a lot of coincidence here, but I do find that our lives are full of coincidences, and maybe they are not just coincidence but fate. Rendell is brilliant as ever, she must be diabolical. Once again as in Thirteen Steps Down, she leaves the zinger for the last paragraph. Don't look!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ruth Rendell on terrific form, 7 Nov 2006
By 
M. D. Smart (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Water's Lovely (Hardcover)
Ruth Rendell has been one of my favourite crime authors for many years now, but there was a period recently when she appeared to have lost her way slightly, producing a couple of books well below her usual standard. 2002's Wexford novel, 'Babes In The Wood' read like a short story padded out to three hundred pages, it was so slow and cumbersome. 2003's 'The Rottweiler' was even worse, surely the weakest book she has ever written, full of absurd stereotypes, ridiculous coincidences and ill-judged attempts at humour. It was hard to believe it had really been written by the same author who produced the likes of 'A Dark-Adapted Eye' and 'Keys To The Street'. Even her 2002 Barbara Vine novel 'The Blood Doctor', although far better than the two Rendell books, had something missing.

Since then, I'm relieved to say, she has been back to her usual self; her two novels from last year - the latest Wexford, 'End In Tears', and another Barbara Vine book, 'The Minotaur' - showed she was on form once more, and 'The Water's Lovely' continues that run of successes.

It's a typical Rendell tale of the secrets which bind a family together and eventually drive them apart. Sisters Ismay and Heather are trying to forget the death of their stepfather Guy twelve years ago when they were just teenagers. Guy was drowned in his bath, and Ismay has always suspected that Heather was responsible, protecting her beloved sister from Guy's sexual advances. Now both sisters are in serious relationships, and Ismay is wondering if Heather's fiance Ed should be told about his bride-to-be's apparently murderous past.

As usual in a Ruth Rendell mystery, a whole host of other characters become caught up in the events, from the girls' mad mother and her long-suffering sister to the families, friends and neighbours of their partners. All have a part to play in the unfolding drama, and the seemingly disparate threads are drawn inexorably together with consummate skill as the novel approaches its climax.

One of the author's greatest gifts is her skillful characterisation. It would be true to say she rarely draws especially likeable or heroic characters, which is either a fault or an accurate reflection of human nature, depending on your point of view. However, there is no one better at exposing and examining human frailties, weaknesses, compulsions and unpleasant impulses. Simple definitions of good and evil have no place in Ruth Rendell's books; she constantly challenges the reader not to make hard and fast judgements by pulling the rug out from under us. It could be argued that some of the peripheral characters occassionally verge on caricature, but overall both minor and major figures are richly and convincingly portrayed, their faults all too recognisable to us - much to our discomfort.

One of the recurring themes in all the Rendell and Vine books which I find most compelling is the frequently capricious fate whose machinations have us all at its mercy. The decent, helpless and innocent often suffer unhappy fates, while the devious, selfish and downright nasty sail through life without an apparent care. The author doesn't make overt judgements, but leaves us to ponder the injustice of it all. It's particularly apt that this novel contains allusions to 'Tess of the D'Ubervilles', as Hardy (perhaps my all-time favourite author) was always deeply concerned by the essential unfairness of life.

I tried hard to ration myself with this book, starting out by reading a chapter or two at a time to make it last and savour the experience, but the storyline soon had me by the throat and I rushed through it in a day. Ruth Rendell is clearly back to her best, and there are few other crime writers, if any, who can match her on such blisteringly good form. Those who want quick, cheap thrills with bloody corpses littering every chapter would do well to look elsewhere, but for an intelligent, slow-burning thriller you'll be hard-pushed to find better this year.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 9 Nov 2006
By 
Robin Hewer (Stevenage, Herts, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Water's Lovely (Hardcover)
I found this new Ruth Rendell book tremendously enjoyable. It tells the story of two sisters whose stepfather was drowned when they were young. Now they are adults and one sister is haunted by the belief that the other was responsible for their stepfather's death. The story takes many unexpected twists and turns and kept me entertained throughout. Ruth Rendell has a talent for entering into the minds of disturbed and dangerous individuals which is always convincing.

I did have one small criticism which I admit is very petty. When the death of the stepfather is recounted, the bath in which he drowned is described in some detail. In the same chapter the bath is described once again but this time it is completely different! At first I thought I had been very clever and spotted a future plot twist, something along the lines of False Memory Syndrome. I was quite disappointed when I realised it was just a mistake. However that is really the proofreader's fault, not Ms. Rendell's. It is their job, after all.

This very small error didn't spoil the story in any way, and I would recommend the book very highly, but I thought I would mention it to save other readers from getting confused as I did!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tightly plotted & fantastic, 16 Dec 2006
By 
SilentSinger (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Water's Lovely (Hardcover)
Once again, the mistress of crime, suspense and pyschology has written another masterpiece. I was hooked right from the first chapter - it's a story about two sisters who've both experienced a traumatic event and it's that tragedy which acts as a hook to hang the rest of the characters and events upon. Beautiful characterisations, thrilling twists and a suprise ending all combine to make this an extremely good book to settle down with this winter - highly recommended 5*.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where's the thrill?, 24 Jan 2013
This review is from: The Water's Lovely (Paperback)
I felt very disappointed with this novel. Not being a prolific Rendell reader, I had expected it to be as great a read as; A Dark Adapted Eye, but unfortunately it was not. A years old crime sketched our for us in the first few chapters, and a host of slightly unbelievable characters set in a London that bears no reality to the actual place.
I kept on with it and the insignificant sub plots based around a strange middle aged con woman, and accepted the ludicrous coincidences, all in the vague hope that the end would bring a jaw dropping revelation, in fact trying to work out the twist, inevitably proved more entertaining than reading the book. Alas the great revelation was to confirm what we knew all along and it seemed, having read the last 2 pages, that Ms Rendell felt the same, so tried to finish it off with a shock ending, that had no real roots in the story, and was just a clumsy, lazy wrap up to a story that never lived up to it's early promise.
Disappointing and not recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Keep Seizing the Moment If You Want to Find Happiness, 30 Aug 2007
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Water's Lovely (Paperback)
The Water's Lovely is more about demonstrating a life philosophy than it is a mystery. If you are looking for a rewarding mystery, this book probably won't satisfy. If, however, you are looking for an interesting novel with unexpected plot developments, you'll enjoy your read.

Ms. Rendell displays a world that's very dangerous to women where they need to seize advantages wherever they can and protect themselves in as many ways as possible. Rendell's women also have to become cold-hearted if they are to win what they want through taking timely actions. The book's main strength is in using plot development to display the characters in considerable detail. The writing is quite well done except for a jumbled beginning that makes it a hard book to become comfortable with. If you make it through the first 100 pages or so, you'll find the story's flow works much better and you'll become engrossed in the action.

Ismay is the main character in the book and Chapter One opens with Ismay experiencing a dream about seeing a dead face in the water. That dream is based on an event that haunts Ismay with fears and doubts. Did her sister, Heather, murder their stepfather?

Ismay and Heather live in half of the family's former house, which has been converted into two flats. Their mother, the schizophrenic Beatrix, lives in the other flat with her sister, Pamela. Why this arrangement? Well, someone has to keep an eye on Beatrix who doesn't always take her medicine and without medicine she wanders off and becomes a great source of quotations from the Bible's book of Revelation. Pamela also hopes that changing the house will help painful memories die down for the rest of the family. Ismay and Heather can fill in for Pamela when she needs to go out.

Despite the pain that the death has brought to Ismay, she's never discussed it with Heather. Ismay's focus is outside of the house as she falls madly in love with Andrew Campbell-Sedge who reminds her of her stepfather. Sometimes Andrew's face appears in the dream as a face under the water.

Heather isn't the kind of woman who normally attracts men, but she eventually finds a boyfriend, Edmund Litton, a male nurse at the hospice where Heather is a cook. Edmund, too, has a mother, Irene, who needs lots of attention . . . but because she is a hypochondriac. Irene also has someone who helps look out for her, Marion, who likes to find rich elderly people who are about to die in hopes she will receive an inheritance in exchange for her attention. Irene hopes that Edmund will marry the older, plain Marion, who doesn't appeal to Edmund at all.

Ms. Rendell stirs the pot well by having the characters interact with each other, creating many complications and challenges. In the course of that stirring, Marion brings into the two families the influence of several other characters who she aims to gain money from as well as her stumblebum brother, who leeches off of her.

The story is filled with misunderstandings, misapprehensions, and ill-founded hopes that characterize the normal human existence quite well. You'll find yourself chuckling through many of the scenes. But there's always a strong element of danger in the story. When might threats and violence break out again? The balance between the humor and the danger is well executed.

Once you get past the first 100 pages or so, don't expect to put this book down. Ms. Rendell will draw you forward irresistibly with many twists, turns, and unknowns. But don't expect to fall in love with the characters.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written as ever ... but...., 19 Aug 2007
By 
Sue at home (Cheshire. uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Water's Lovely (Paperback)
I love Ruth Rendell's books (check out my listmania list) and I found the style of this novel well up to standard and pure Rendell. No complaints there!

For me, a plot doesn't always have to be totally believable - after all this is a work of fiction and, unlike some reviewers, my enjoyment comes far more from the prose, characters and relationships than from whether some minute detail in the plot is feasible. However, and it is a big however, the reliance on coincidence to resolve this story is totally incredible and spoilt the story for me.

I also felt extremely irritated by Marion and all her dancing and twirling. In fact, I found it impossible to visualise her as a real character and it reminded me very much of the continual, profoundly annoying, hand washing and bathing in Rendells earlier book, Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, which drove me insane. For an ex copper Barry seems non too bright either (as other reviewers have commented!).

If you regularly read Rendell, you will almost certainly enjoy it. If you want to read a Rendell for the first time there are better examples of her work which will get you hooked. The Tree of Hands, The Crococile Bird and A Sight for Sore Eyes are probably three of her best.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars addictive rendell, 14 Nov 2006
This review is from: The Water's Lovely (Hardcover)
I love her novels set in London....great plot..only slight complaint would be the use of coincidence in something found by a character in the book...but I willingly suspend disbelief to enjoy the thrill of another page-turner!
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ruth Rendell - The Water's Lovely, 11 Nov 2006
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Water's Lovely (Hardcover)
An odd chestnut, this. I wait patiently for my annual Rendell fix, knowing that the book will *always* be good, and that I won't read another one like it in the whole year (always true of these criminally underappreciated standalone novels). Though I'm slightly perplexed to say that, after finishing this, I wasn't as thrilled with it as I had hoped, and it's hard for me to say quite why. The problem, I think, may be for me a lack of tension. I found things slightly slow, not particularly explosive as a Rendell novel is. There is always the sense of some impending catastrophe to come, however far away you don't know, some terrific crash as the storylines fray and skitter and flail across one another briefly with Rendellian consequences, but here there not only wasn't the catastrophe, but there wasn't even a sense that there was going to be one, or that anything particularly momentous was going to happen. The only real tension is eked out from the question of, Will Ismay ever confront Heather to find out exactly what went on? This is sutained through the whole thing, the only real suspense (for me). The fact that the whole thing could have been sorted out by a single conversation seemed to me a little...damp.

I feel guilty. Not enthusing about a Rendell novel as I normally can be relied on to do. But The Water's Lovely lacks some Rendell spark, I felt. Or maybe it should just have been shorter. I was also mildly put off by a rather smacking coincidence, and the stilted, unrealistic way some of the characters talked to one another - "I shall be taking Heather out tonight, mother" - (which has never been Rendell's problem before). Though that didn't bother me as much as the fact that Rendell didn't really run with the wonderful scenario she'd come up with.

I liked it, of course. Liked it a lot. Rendell's writing is excellent, her characters always fascinating and tragic, her psychology riveting. But other elements weren't present and correct, which made this, for me, her weakest standalone for some time. Maybe even a very, very long time. Nevertheless: Rendell on a below-par day is five times better than 80% of what's out there, so I can still reccomend this as a worthwhile read. Clever, interesting, unpredictable, but without any of the ice-cold shock moments that her books normally have.
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The Water's Lovely
The Water's Lovely by Ruth Rendell (Paperback - 2 Aug 2007)
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