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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 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!
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on 21 August 2001
I believe Ruth Rendell is at her best when she enters the psychological world of her characters especially the murderer and the victims. There are two bridesmaids in this novel one a marble statue called Flora and the other a flesh and blood character called Senta. These two seem to dominate the mind of Philip, a young man who has a phobia about all things violent. This we learn on the first page of this book when there is a news item on television of a young woman missing and her death seems to be assumed. You have to be in the mood for this type of tale but the rewards are great as long as you aren't too squeamish.
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on 11 April 2000
Set in the seedy backwaters of London suburbia, Rendell draws you into a labyrinth - just as the main character is drawn into erotic but murderous complicity by the bridesmaid of the title in her dark house in Kilburn.
Much the best Rendell I've ever read, it successfully creates its own world into which the reader wanders like a fly into a spider's parlour: before you know it, you're hooked.
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This is my favourite Ruth Rendell novel. It begins with likeable Philip falling for the mysterious and beautiful Senta, and proceeds as a passionate love story. However, to say there is something not quite right about Senta would be to understate things. Fascinatingly, despite her seraphic beauty she lives in filthy squalor and in a world where she does not not seem to notice or adhere to the safe conventions of society. This may make her sound like a romantic, but she is dangerously self governing. The pace gathers speed and tension as her behaviour becomes even stranger and Philip's passionate feelings for her conflict with his sense of right and wrong. She is a terrifying and realistic character and by the time I had breathlessly read the last page, I was still blinking in the sunlight trying to take it all in. Rendell's talent is astounding. And so is this book. By the way- it would make a fantastic TV drama, BBC!!
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on 2 February 2006
This is I would say, one of my favourite books ever. The contrast between the two main character is vast. One gets so completely drawn into this fascinating book. It truly came alive for me. The anguish that I felt on behalf of Phillip throughout the book was a physical thing; especially when Senta banishes Phillip from her life and she disappears like a ghost from him.
I've read this book maybe 4 times in 15 years and I never tire of it. It is totally absorbing.
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on 1 March 2004
Philip Wardman is a young man working for Roseberry Lawn Interiors. He is of quiet, sedate character and he hates violence of any kind. At his sister's wedding, Philip meets her bridesmaid Senta Pelham and falls in love with her. She has a white complexion and silver hair thus resembling Flora, the stone statue in Philip's mother's garden. Philip's love for Senta grows passionate until one day she claims that they both have to kill somebody to seal their love for each other. And so begins an awkward journey through sick and weak minds, through an emotional, erotic and irrational relationship. Mrs Rendell's novel is appalling, shocking, convincing and relentlessly gripping. Mr William Gaminara offers a respectable performance in this audio book and I enjoyed very much listening to his reading.
Philippe Horak /
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on 10 October 2015
Another Ruth Rendell classic, seemingly ordinary people with psychological disturbances. The author brings dark undertones to a family going through the ups and downs of living in the suburbs, and the complexities of relationships. The truth is mingled with fantasy leaving the story a page turner til the end.
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on 22 September 2016
I had the audio cd's and from the first I disliked it. The 'reader' spoke so fast his delivery was more suited to an cattle auction.
I cannot understand how the publishers never noticed this. It spoilt the whole as I could not enjoy listening at all.
I now look to make sure he is not the reader before even reading the synopsis.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 November 2015
Psychological drama - a tight plot rather spoiled by cardboard lifeless characters. Philip becomes obsessed by a girl he meets at his sister's wedding. She sets out to control his mind and body and a murder pact that only she succeeds in. The narrative is at times long and drawn out and the book only succeeds on a rather limited plain. The ending is rather predictable as the psychology is overtaken by reality.
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on 29 January 2014
I have to concede that this book is much too dark, as one reviewer has put it.
Having read a fair number of Rendell books over the years I feel qualified to categorizing her work. There are those books which feature inhumane, dark, sinister characters - 'Live Flesh', 'The Killing Doll' and this, 'The Bridesmaid'.
Others have dark, unsettling characters but the book is so engaging it doesn't affect its spirit: 'The Keys to the Street', 'A Judgement in Stone', 'A demon in my View', 'One Across two Down', 'The face of Trespass'.
Then there are her classic page turners, 'Make Death love me' and especially, 'The Lake of Darkness' - the best book of hers I have read.
Given that her novels deal with crime and the ugly aspects of society it is inevitable she will deal with dark subject matter. With some of Rendell's books, however, there is an almost obsessive concentration on seedy, soulless, diseased situations and people. This makes the first category hard to get through. You can feel them dragging you down.
She's a fine writer and great story teller and I suppose it all comes down to what you are partial to. 'The Bridesmaid' does have a thrilling ending.
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