Ruth Rendell

The Water’s Lovely

"RR doesn't just stand for Rolls Royce... Pure class and stunning engineering from Ruth Rendell."


Ismay was only fifteen when she and her mother found her stepfather, Guy, floating dead in the bath. Her sister, Heather, who was in the house at the time, was drenched. She and her mother lied that Heather had been with them shopping and that Guy, on his own in the house and just recovering from a severe virus, must have slipped under the water and not having the strength to pull himself up, must have drowned.

Ten years later, the matter has never been mentioned since. Now Heather has found a new boyfriend and Ismay is frightened that she just may harm someone else to keep her man by her side. Ismay decides to record a message on a tape cassette for Heather's fiancée, Edmund. Soon after, she believes it a ridiculous notion to even think she could have handed it to him and destroy their happiness. Forgetting the tape, she continues with life. But this being Rendell-land, that isn't where things finish. In fact, this is where things start to go very, very wrong…

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RR doesn't just stand for Rolls Royce... Pure class and stunning engineering from Ruth Rendell. This author always has the knack of collecting together a menagerie of outcasts and making us feel that they could very easily be our next-door neighbours. The Water's Lovely is a startling affair and, unlike the tepid novel, The Rottweiler, it sees Rendell back in the driver's seat. This novel is populated by the most bizarre, mischievous people imaginable. Within a few paragraphs the reader can relax, as you just know that you are in the realm of the Rendellesque. My favourite character in this story is certainly Marion, who wheedles her way into old people's affection, her ultimate goal being a mention in their will and a tasty legacy. Her sycophantic exterior hides a seething need for money – however it is gained. She is a spectacular Rendell creation and it is through Marion that the impasse with Ismay and Heather is finally breached. The end solution is not breathtaking or blinding. It is the sheer simplicity that embeds the whole work of fiction into some semblance of fact. Anything too surprising would probably have made the whole story seem preposterous. In fact, what Rendell reaches for and admirably achieves is the ability to give Ismay and Heather, a very human side to their characters. What both girls have been through is read in the papers all too often. However, this being the world of Rendell, a swift retribution is dealt by the author involving an incident that is, unfortunately, based in fact. Whether or not you feel that retribution justified, I leave to you, dear reader…

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