Top positive review
24 people found this helpful
on 19 January 2005
I first read this about 10 years ago when I found a copy going for a few pence in a charity shop, and I was glued to its pages throughout. I've read it again very recently, and I was even more impressed on this second reading. This is Ruth Rendell at her very, VERY best, and believe me, that's unbeatable! Philip Wardman is a decent, but somewhat priggish young man, afraid of violence in any form, and who gets ridiculously upset when he finds out that his widowed mother is sleeping with her boyfriend. At his sister's wedding he meets one of her bridesmaids, Senta Pelham, a beautiful, unusual young woman, who to say the least, is a tad eccentric.
Over the course of a long hot summer Philip becomes more and more obsessed with Senta, who has a habit of coming out with things like "our first evening together should be sacred", and claiming he is the soul-mate she has been looking for since the dawn of time, normally the sort of thing which would have most young men heading for the hills at a rate of knots! Then Senta decrees that to prove their love for one another, they should each commit murder. It is clear to anyone, even Philip, that Senta isn't quite the full picnic, but he is too smitten and obsessed to back off. There are more twists and turns in this than a corkscrew, and the ending is quite horrifying and gruesome to say the least.
I sometimes feel that no one today writes about London so evocatively as Ruth Rendell, and in "The Bridesmaid" we get some startlingly good moments of surrealism. The decaying old house in Kilburn in which Senta lives in a room in the basement seems almost to have a life of its own, and is downright spooky at times. I can't begin to describe just how Atmospheric some of these scenes are, you won't shake them off easily afterwards. I would love to see this one filmed, but not in some ITV1 9pm sanitised "Midsomer Murders"-style effort, PROPERLY filmed, by an imaginative director. If you want to read only one Ruth Rendell, to see what all the fuss is about, then make it this one!