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She's done it again!,
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This review is from: A Sight For Sore Eyes (Paperback)
Ruth Rendell has been writing now for 40 years, and you'd think after the huge output she has achieved that she might be starting to go off the boil a bit, or even start getting a bit repetitive. But she is consistently coming up with the goods, again and again. "A Sight For Sore Eyes" is a leisurely tale, spanning many years, but it is absolutely enthralling.
Francine Hill witnessed her mother being shot dead in her hallway when she was a little girl. Eventually her father, riddled with guilt that he was somehow inadvertently responsible for his wife's death, marries Julia, a psychotherapist who has been struck off for being too zealous in her concern for one of her patients. Julia's excessive zeal is transferred to Francine, who she sees as a disturbed child who needs to be ruthlessly protected from the outside world.
On the other side of the tracks Teddy Grex is growing up in an emotionally-cold household, where his family barely seem to interact with each other on any kind of human level. Teddy is determined to rise above all this and make something of himself, but he doesn't realise that his family's dire upbringing of him has left a terrible mark on his soul. When he's grown up he meets Francine at college and becomes obsessed with her beauty. Francine in turn sees Teddy as a sort of knight in shining armour, someone to come and rescue her from the clutches of her overbearing stepmother.
The terrible truth is though that Teddy is a murderer who has already despatched a member of his family to an untimely death, and is to commit murder again before much more time has passed. He also doesn't want Francine as a real flesh-and-blood girlfriend, but as a sort of living statue to adore. Coming unwittingly into the plot is ex-Sixties wild child Harriet, now middle-aged and locked in a chillingly loveless marriage with a man 20 years older than herself. When she hires Teddy to make some cupboards for her she gets herself embroiled in his life in a way that she didn't bargain for!
At over 400 pages long, this isn't exactly a quick read, but there are many memorable scenes here. The last 20 pages will make your flesh creep, it's like something out of a Gothic classic. It's grisly enough for a James Herbert novel! Teddy's fate, when it eventually happens, is truly disturbing.