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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An exposé of the relationships between neighbours and between different classes
This novel follows the relationships of people living in an exclusive street in Pimlico, half of them employees of the other half. The 'servants' form the St Zita Society, which brings them all together and provides a setting for the drama. The character set is diverse as you'd expect for a novel set in central London: multi-ethnic, a gay couple, different faiths, a touch...
Published 17 months ago by Amanda

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull and confusing
I never thought that I would say this about a book by Ruth Rendell (who is my favourite author) but sadly this last offering is dull and confusing, with a weak plot which is nowhere near her usual brilliance. I struggled to get past chapter 3, with far too many characters and an extremely disjointed storyline. Her last 2 novels have been in the same vein; we are certainly...
Published 20 months ago by Sarah


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dull and confusing, 8 Mar 2013
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This review is from: The Saint Zita Society (Hardcover)
I never thought that I would say this about a book by Ruth Rendell (who is my favourite author) but sadly this last offering is dull and confusing, with a weak plot which is nowhere near her usual brilliance. I struggled to get past chapter 3, with far too many characters and an extremely disjointed storyline. Her last 2 novels have been in the same vein; we are certainly seeing the decline of Ruth Rendell. If you want to read Rendell at her best, steer clear of this one and go for earlier works such as The Bridesmaid, A Sight for Sore Eyes, Adam & Eve & Pinch Me or any of the early Wexfords. Avoid this one at all costs!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not her best, 5 Sep 2012
By 
Bakey (Suffolk, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Saint Zita Society (Hardcover)
This novel is about the residents of Hexham Place & the Saint Zita Society is formed by the au pairs, drivers, cleaners etc of the wealthy property owners.
By Rendell's standards I found this book very disappointing. At the start too many characters were introduced too soon & it wasn't clear who was who until almost a third of the way into the story. I did think that the book improved slightly as it went along but then the ending was poor & I have to say the so called twists were fairly obvious.
It certainly doesn't please me to give this only 2 stars as she's written some great books in the past. I'm very glad this is one I got from the library & didn't buy as I won't be reading it again. I hope this is a blip & that Rendell's next book will be somewhere back to her best.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ruth Rendell disappoints, 29 Aug 2012
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This review is from: The Saint Zita Society (Hardcover)
I am so relieved to read a lot of other negative reviews on this page, as I was starting to doubt my sanity. I used to be ridiculously excited by the publication of a new Ruth Rendell but they've become increasingly more of a chore and this one is a shocker. Ludicrous and unbelievable young people, as pointed out by other reviewers;awful mistakes (characters wearing boots one minute and shoes the next); risable ethnic minorities - it's as if the author simply doesn't live in this century. I will give the new Barbara Vine a try when it's published, as I've pre-ordered it now but if that's no good then I'm going to have to call it a day. I'm really sad about it though.
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78 of 85 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So bad it's upsetting, 18 July 2012
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This review is from: The Saint Zita Society (Hardcover)
I never thought the day would come when I would find a book by this author to be virtually unreadable. I say 'virtually' because I have just devoted several hours of my day to reading it! I SO wanted it to be good and two 5 star reviews on here gave me hope it might be. What I found was a vast array of uninteresting, unbelievable, characters, one of whom thinks his mobile phone provider is a god, indulging in pages of dull conversation, and a rambling plot about someone being pushed downstairs and the subsequent efforts to dispose of the body.
I think this author has been stung by remarks that she doesn't 'get' the 21st century and there are definite, forced attempts in here to prove that she does. Ironically the authorial voice bemoans the fact that most over 60's don't understands computers, a bit rich when her most well known character CI Wexford only learned how to send an e mail after he retired!
There is a perfectly dreadful attempt at humour in here some of it aimed at the most techno ignorant character, some pseudo princess who refers to a blackberry as a raspberry..yes that is the level of the humour. There is nothing compelling about any aspect of this novel at all, I tried in vain to find flashes of the old genius but there are none.

Now, as the recent works of RR still gain rave reviews from some people, I ask myself what is happening here. I suggest that this writer has changed her literary range entirely and now appeals to a different sort of reader altogether ie those who enjoy something very,superficial and easy. Nothing wrong with that, I dislike snobbery in literature as much as any where else. Those of us who used to wait in excitement for one of her books to be released... I am thinking of vintage Wexford and middle period Vine, are baffled by the slightness and incompetence of recent work: baffled and terribly disappointed
There was a time when had RR not been tagged as a thriller writer, she might have been up there, short listed for Booker and the like. A Dark Adapted Eye is as good as anything in literary fiction published that year.

The fall-off has been gradual. Wexford suffered first, when RR was clearly not able to keep up with 21st century policing and her protagonist while loveable, as a copper was ridiculous. The malaise has spread to her whole range and is not helped by the fact that she will churn out stuff so rapidly.
If she ever reads these pages I implore her to take her time and give us one more beautiful book so that she is not remembered as the writer of cheap dross.
I am aware that criticising this writer is seen by some, as akin to kicking a defenceless animal and I know from experience, that I will receive a hail of negative votes and possibly some nasty comments as well!! This is a shame. All any of us have on here is an opinion, mine is that this is a bad book, if yours is that it is a good book I respect that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 62nd time unlucky, 20 Mar 2013
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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The Saint Zita Society is Ruth Rendell's 62nd novel, and with that kind of output - and fitting in sitting in the House of Lords - you could be forgiven for missing the target from time to time. Sadly this is one of those times despite her usually being a much more interesting author away from her Inspector Wexford novels. With her good eye for the latent violent undercurrents running beneath bourgeois mores it's no surprise that she was a favourite of Claude Chabrol, who adapted several of her novels for the screen, and this has her reaching for the social scalpel once more. There's certainly promise in the novel's informal society of domestic servants and their repressed relationships with or fantasies about their well-off employers, their close proximity but vastly differing circumstances becoming increasingly unhealthy. Naturally not everybody in the society is playing with a full deck and some of those repressed obsessions will break free with disastrous consequences, but you can't help feeling that you've been here before and that Rendell has done it so much better in the past. At times it even feels like a sequel to A Judgement In Stone with many of that novel's homicidal maid's psychological problems more evenly distributed among a wider ensemble for a piece that's not so much state of the nation as state of the overpriced London street. The sprawling cast of characters and the length of time it takes to introduce them before the plot starts to get going are problematic, the shift of perspectives tending to be more alienating than energising in a book that's surprisingly hard to get into. Once it does start to get into its stride the deja vu becomes more noticeable until it feels like Rendell is imitating Rendell rather than coming up with something more original. Some of the old tropes still work despite the familiarity, but it doesn't ever do them well enough to feel it's worth persisting at times: a solid, formulaic work that goes over too much old ground to genuinely excite.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelmed, 3 Sep 2012
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As a long time reader and huge admirer of Ruth Rendell's psychological thrillers, I always look forward to her new books, but I am afraid I didn't find this one to be as good as I'd hoped for.

The St Zita Society are a group of servants working in an upmarket London Square - they are quite a diverse group of young and old home helps, drivers, gardeners, au pairs etc. To be honest, the idea of them all coming together (in the little spare time they had) to discuss dog excrement and smoking areas, didn't really work. And to fulfil this Society, there was a huge overload of characters which kept me going back and re-reading to refresh who was who and who worked for who. For me, RR is at her best when she bases her books around a main character with a notorious or colourful past and I hoped that this would be Dex the newly released criminally insane gardener, but he was on the sideline until needed later on.

Still, putting that aside, I started to warm to the book about a quarter of the way through and I felt a glimmer of the magical Rendell writing style breaking through - yes, her writing style is old fashioned, but for me that's the charm of Ruth Rendell and I didn`t mind that at all. Then it all ended rather too neatly and left me feeling somewhat underwhelmed with the whole thing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Saint zita, 22 Aug 2012
This review is from: The Saint Zita Society (Hardcover)
Just finished and thought the last few pages had been ripped out! I enjoy Rendell but found this tiresome, predictable and without any backbone. The characters were all stereo-typical and her attitudes towards Minority groups is bizarre. I prefer when she writes as Vine and hope the child's child will be a good read when it is released. I'm so glad I didn't buy this and only borrowed from library.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for the firework that never quite went off..., 16 Nov 2013
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I did enjoy this; I love Ruth Rendell, and greet each new title with eager anticipation. The Saint Zita Society is, however, a strange book. Reading about the lives and the (generally pretty small) doings of the characters feels a bit like peering from a hidden vantage point at a set of lives in a posh neighbourhood, but without truly getting involved with them. It's compelling - I just had to finish it - but I really can't say why, and writing this review a few weeks after finishing the book, I had to go back to it to remind myself what happened, and I discovered that the answer to that was "not very much".

A few clues are given as to people's pasts before the beginning of the story (or maybe that should be the non-story), although at times these read more like work notes than bits of the narrative. Characters in the main just get on with being themselves and proceeding with their fairly uneventful lives, and, while they are well-drawn and sometimes interesting characters, I do wonder if this really constitutes a novel.

I felt sufficiently involved to draw my own plan of the street and the houses and where everyone lived, as, without it, I couldn't work out who went where. Perhaps such a plan was included in the book? (I read this on Kindle).

Will I read the next Ruth Rendell? Yes, I'm sure I will, but maybe a bit more plot would be nice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An exposé of the relationships between neighbours and between different classes, 8 Jun 2013
By 
Amanda "Lib_Lady1" (Cambridge, England) - See all my reviews
This novel follows the relationships of people living in an exclusive street in Pimlico, half of them employees of the other half. The 'servants' form the St Zita Society, which brings them all together and provides a setting for the drama. The character set is diverse as you'd expect for a novel set in central London: multi-ethnic, a gay couple, different faiths, a touch of royalty... There are rather a lot of people to remember, and I frequently found myself referring to the house plan at the front of the book to remember who was who!

Unlike many of Ruth Rendell's earlier novels, this isn't a whodunnit, as we know who's actually 'done it', as well as who's been the instigator. I was hoping right up till the end for a twist in the tale as regards the identity of the Peach impersonator who was behind one of the deaths.

Dex, the released criminal with a personality disorder and history of childhood abuse, infiltrates the street and is obviously one to watch, but several of the supposedly normal characters are not people you'd want to live next door to either: there's some pretty nasty stuff done in the pursuit of other people's money, as well as some very superior attitudes from the above stairs lot to the below stairs lot. Few of the characters are likeable or admirable, with a few notable exceptions such as Simon the paediatrician and Rabia the widowed nanny ... the most sympathetic portrait of a Muslim I've read anywhere. I was very pleased Ruth Rendell didn't kill her off!

The ending was a bit of a surprise, in that one of the malefactors was brought to justice, but not in the way you expect. However, we were left to infer the outcome, and I'd have liked a little more resolution to what happened next to all the other characters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 30 Aug 2012
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This review is from: The Saint Zita Society (Hardcover)
I have read most of Ruth Rendell's books and usually enjoy a great deal.

However, I found this lacking in her usual grittiness and wasn't in a rush to finish it!
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