I have never read a book by Ruth Rendell so I was looking forward to discovering a new author. Unfortunately I did not care for this book much, and if it is indicative of the books she writes I think it would be quite a while before I would read her again. The story started well enough with one of the characters recurring dream of what appears to be a murder. However after that it became a never ending account of self serving whining people who inexplicably all seem to be connected by the most tenuous of threads. There were really only three people I cared about, and they seemed to be there only as a comparison to all the other ninnies in the book.
The plot involves Ismay and Heather, two sisters who are very close. Their stepfather died under mysterious circumstances 12 years earlier, and their mother has receded into mental illness, cared for by her sister Pam. The four women live in the family home which has been converted into two flats, with the two sets of sisters occupying one apartment each. We follow their various love lives, including a happy marriage, a disastrous love affair and some terrific views of middle aged dating, including speed dating, Internet matches etc. Most of the plot involves long winded musings, mostly by Ismay, who was the most annoying character in the book with no spine at all. I was barely into this book when I was hoping she would do something, anything except mope and ruminate on lost chances.
The coincidences that move the plot along are improbable, and almost never ending, one after the other. The book is supposed to be a suspense tale, but read at times like an afternoon soap. The story just plods along, and the ending not only annoyed me, but seemed completely unnecessary. I literally threw the book down after reading the last page.
Since this author has won numerous awards, and there were many passages that I thought really well written I may give her another go, but someone would have to talk the book up a lot before I'd try another one.
According to the NY Times Book Review, this book was "a subtly horrifying story." Perhaps it was a little too subtle for me. My sister, so is a Rendell fan, toally loved it. It's a matter of what appeals to you, I guess.
Not a hard-core mystery, and not a cozy, I found this book very interesting and enjoyable. I know it has been criticized for being very unlike Rendell, but if you just let it stand on its own, it's worth the read.
This is one book that requires commitment . Audio is the one way to continually review the story and it's contents. The reward is there at the end, so stick with it. Sisters and aquaintences all require deep probing and forgiveness in order to find their redeeming qualities and worth. This is not a simple story and only those who persevere should invest in this tale.