Vanity dies hard
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Top customer reviews
Rendell achieves an eerie quality when Alice is looking for Nesta. The bleak road where Nesta is said to have lived has a spooky, surreal quality to it, a bit like the sort of thing you'd get in a Ramsey Campbell novel. Unfortunately this isn't sustained, and about halfway through I began to get the feeling that this would all turn out to be a bit of a damp squib.
I thought the period quality might have some interest. After all, the 1960s is far enough back now to have a strong curiosity factor, but instead all we get is a depressingly dated feel, apart from Jackie's different-coloured cocktail cigarettes that is! A good job they don't do those anymore (not that I know of anyway) or everyone'd want them as a must-have fashion accessory! Perhaps I'm being unfairly biased against this book, as I came to it straight after reading "The Keys To The Street", which is absolutely brilliant. But really if you want prime Rendell, then go to her later stuff, from the 1980s onwards.
Suffice to say, it is well-written, engaging, with a set of interesting and well-developed character. Too, here Rendell really takes her theme (i.e. vanity, what it can lead to, what it can cause, how it expresses itself in people) and runs with it! This is a marvellous exploration of vanity; she probes deeply into each of her characters with this interesting theme in mind.
This is yet another of her books that her publishers keep out of print, which is just a travesty. Until its reprinted this is a very hard little book to get hold of - so, to remedy that and spur her publishers on, email them! The more enquiries they receive, the quicker this book gets reprinted, and it must be. With Vanity Dies Hard, she turns everything we expect, everything we and the characters assume, on its head, so that we can be sure nothing in the world of Rendell is certain...And it all makes such beautiful sense. In the end, this is an incredibly clever book that will probably have you shaking your head at your own gullibility. Although it doesn't have the power of some her later books, this novel of hysteria and vanity is a unique gem from RR.
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