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Life in the well-manicured London locale of Hexam Place is not as placid and orderly as it appears. Behind the tranquil gardens and polished entryways, relationships between servants and their employers are set to combust.
Henry, the handsome valet to Lord Studley, is sleeping with both the Lord's wife and his university-age daughter. Montserrate, the Still family's lazy au pair, is helping to hide Mrs. Still's illicit affair with a television actor - for a small fee. June, the haughty housekeeper to a princess of dubious origin, is hard at work forming a "society" for servants to address complaints about their employers. Meanwhile, a disturbed gardener, Dex, believes a voice in his cellphone is giving him godlike instructions - that could endanger the lives of all who reside in Hexam Place.
A deeply observed and suspenseful update to the upstairs/downstairs genre, The St. Zita Society is Ruth Rendall at her incisive best.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Susianna on 08-22-12
Cast of Unlikable Characters Doing Very Little
This is the first book by Ruth Rendell that I cannot recommend or even finish. The most glaring fault of The St. Zita Society is its immediate introduction to a large cast of forgettable characters that are impossible to keep straight. This can be irritating in a print novel but in the audio format, the confusing cast of dozens is downright frustrating. On the rare occasion that I find myself confused while starting an audiobook, I have attributed the fault to my own distraction or inattentive listening. Restarting the book or replaying a section usually gets me into the swing of things and invested in the story. Today, a couple hours of listening in, I found myself so bored I didn't even care enough to pause and replay in order to find out what was going on, I knew it was time to quit. Just so you know, it's never all about the plot for me. If a book is character driven and well written, I'm happy as a clam. My favorite book of the summer kept me riveted as the protagonist essentially just walked around for awhile in "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry." Rendell's writing is usually characterized by interesting characters and a compelling plot. Not this time. I recommend you give St. Zita a miss and opt for any other Ruth Rendell title. I also highly recommend "Asta's Book" or the many other novels she writes under the pseudonym "Barbara Vine." Still a loyal fan, I'm sure I'll pounce on the next Rendell offering as soon as it's released. I just hope when it comes time to select her characters, she chooses quality over quantity.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
By MarianC on 04-16-13
I am a huge Ruth Rendell fan. This is the worst of her novels that I've read. "St. Vita" skims across the surface, never delving deeply into any of the characters. There's a full cast of characters doing things that *could* be interesting but aren't. It took me weeks to read all the way through, because I kept getting confused about who was doing what and why. I kept thinking that I must have missed some vital passages. But no. Sad, as I love Ruth Rendell. But everyone's entitled to a miss from time to time. And I'll keep reading her novels. The narrator did a fine job.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful