Customer Review

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
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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