Thursday, April 30, 2009

My First Ruth Rendell as Ruth Rendell

Hi. What's up? We've had a little bit of drama here this week, involving an evening-turned-into-night trip to the ER for my husband. He's fine now, but had food stuck in his esophagus. Yes, ick. Yes, I tell him to take smaller bites. Situations like this make it difficult to not have any family nearby, I mean, I don't have anyone to watch my child at 11 pm. Or 1 am. So the evening involved me bringing her home to sleep for a bit, then waking her up and dragging her 50+ pound body back out to the car to pick up Daddy. Who was supposed to be ready. But it took another hour to discharge him by which time the poor child was begging me to take her home. I finally got them into bed around 2 am and all that adrenalin resulted in around 3 hours of sleep for me Tuesday night from which I am still recovering. Ugh. What else? Did you see Lost last night? How great was that? I'm still pondering what it all means. And I'm getting ready to go to an out-of-town wedding for the weekend. So, lots going on around here.

Anywho.

I finished my first Ruth Rendell book during the read-a-thon. I've been reading her books written as Barabara Vine for some time now but this is my first dip into the Ruth Rendell waters. I purposefully chose something that sounded similar to her Vine books, and it definitely was. Similar, that is. Like the Vine books, this focused on the why rather than the who, but unlike the Vine books I've read, this incorporated into the novel the police procedural piece of solving the crime.

The book I'm talking about is A Judgement in Stone and is satisfyingly creepy and suspenseful. Amazing, in a sense that it could be suspenseful since the book begins with this sentence:

Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write.

I, mean, this is not a spoiler, this is it. This is the who-done-it, the who-was-it-done-to and the why-done-it right there, line one. So why keep reading? Because Ruth Rendell is writing, that's why. The Coverdales are a well-do-family living in a small English Village. I'm not certain of the time period, but since this was written in 1977 and there's talk of an expensive cassette tape recorder, the 70s sounds about right. Jacqueling Coverdale is having a difficult time caring for her large home and is thrilled when she employs Eunich Parchman as a maid. Eunice is pretty thrilled too, since there is a TV in her new accommodations and she loves those murder shows. But, aside from being illiterate, Eunice is a damaged soul, she is almost inhuman. Things don't go quite as Eunice plans, and the relationship between herself and another villager seals everyone's fate when the entire Coverdale family is killed in the course of 15 minutes on the evening of Valentine's day.

I can tell you that much, but little else. It's much too good to discover it yourself. I can tell you Rendell is brilliant here. Rendell's voice is that of the omniscient narrator who knows what pushes Eunice's buttons, who knows that this is the last day for the Coverdales. A Judgement in Stone is creepy, darkly comedic at times, bone chilling, utterly divine. I loved it.

32 comments:

Cornflower said...

So sorry about your drama, but glad all's well in the end.
It's a long time since I read any Ruth Rendell, but I do remember her books as being extremely good. I ought to revisit them.

bermudaonion said...

A night trip to the ER is scary! We've never lived near family, either, so I know what you mean.

Ali said...

I'm glad your husband's okay, it sounds like it must have been very uncomfortable for him, not to mention a pain for you and your daughter. Smaller bites, indeed!

Bree said...

Sorry to hear about your husband.

Lost - heck yeah I watched it last night. The show is sooooo good this year. Everytime I get an answer to a long ago question, there's another question. Urrggh. But why kill Daniel? I like him. And he's the son of Whitmore and that lady? He's an other? How interesting. Will he come back to life next week? Will the whole incident never happen? Will that be the end of the series if that is the case? So many questions.

jennysbooks said...

Oh, yuck, that sounds miserable! The ER trip, not the book. The book sounds good - I read one of Ruth Rendell's books as Ruth Rendell, and I wasn't crazy about it. Looks like it's time to try again!

Ti said...

So sorry about the ER trip. It's so hard when you have a little one and no one as back-up for these types of emergencies.

I am not a mystery buff but you made the book sound very appealing.

zetor said...

So sorry about the hospital trip. Hope your husband is fully recovered. I watch the Ruth Rendall tv. shows and enjoy them.

Karen said...

That does sound a pretty scary - glad everything turned out ok in the end.
I haven't read anything by Rendall at all but you are making me want to pick one of her books up now!

Cath said...

What a difficult experience with your husband and the hospital. I can sympathise as we never had family living close when our children were growing up either. Glad your husband is all right.

Adding the RR to my 'look for at the library' list.

booklineandsinker said...

yikes...hope things have settled down at home and you've caught up on some sleep!

recently, a friend told me about this author...now with your review, my interested is doubled piqued!

J.Danger said...

Food in his esophogaus? Weird. Sounds painful.

Staci said...

I've never read Rendell but it sounds like I'm missing out on some good books!!

Glad to hear that the hubby is fine. I understand the family thing..we're 3.5 hours from family and when you need someone immediately you have no options!!

Andi said...

Wow, good luck recovering!! That sounds like a harrowing night. I hope you had a good time at the wedding!

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Tara said...

Cornflower, thank you. Ruth Rendell has quickly become a favorite of mine over the past year or so.

Bermudaonion, it really is. Mostly not having family nearby is fine, but it could come in handy.

Ali, thank you! He has been following directions, thank goodness!

Bree, I am loving the answers this year. Every episode is just so good! I was disappointed in the death of Daniel as well, such a great characters. Now I'm wondering if they're going to change time. The actress who plays Kate said in an interview that the script for the season finale blew her mind. Cannot wait!

Jennybooks, it was miserable, yes! Have you tried her Barbara Vine books?

Ti, thank you.

Zetor, are the shows based on her Inspector Wexford books?

Karen, thank you. Rendell/Vine books are teriffic - great reads.

Cath, it can be tricky with no one nearby to help.

Booklineandsinker, we are still catching up on sleep from the weekend but are doing fine! Ruth Rendell is teriffic, if you are curious give her a try! Or try her books written as Barbara Vine, very psychological.

J.Daner, totally.

Staci, she is a fantastic writer! Most of my friends have small kids too, so it's not as if we can call on them either, know what I mean??

Andi, thank you and we did!

Zetor, I will stop by!

Bree said...

Really??? Oohhh I can't wait. This whole season has been like a season finale (but I probably say that every season) (but this season is really really good!). I wonder how many episodes they have left. I'll have to look it up.

Lisa said...

Sorry to hear about your adventure. I hope everyone is doing well and nicely recovered. I've never read any Barbara Vine, but I've read a couple Rendell books. The one I like the best is The Lovely Water. It's a stand alone, which sounds very similar in that it is not your typical mystery. Instead, it delves into the lives of the characters and what brings them all to this place in time. The mark of a great writer, huh?

Iliana said...

Oh Tara how scary! I'm glad to hear everything turned out well.

And hurrah for discovering Ruth Rendell writing as Ruth Rendell :)

I've not read this one but just happy to know I've got lots more of her books waiting for me!

Tara said...

Bree, yes! I know, I cannot wait either! Every episode is just so good with the reveals and new questions.

Lisa, you know, I just picked up The Water's Lovely at the used bookstore - glad to know it's good! She is fabulous!

Iliana, thanks. Yes, I'm so glad I took the plunge - this means I have loads of great books out there just waiting for me!

Bree said...

So next week is the season finale. Will John kill Jacob? And why does he want too? Will this affect everyone else leaving the island? Will this make everything nonexistent? Aren't Juliet and Sawyer just the cutest couple? Especially on the submarine then 3rd wheel Kate had to show up and ruin it. Don't get me wrong I like Kate but she is so wishy washy with Jack and Sawyer. Just decide for goodness sakes and leave the other man alone. Let Juliet have one of them, preferably Sawyer.

jennysbooks said...

I enjoy Barbara Vine's Anna's Book, but then I tried one (two?) of Ruth Rendell's early books and didn't care for them. I don't really like the police procedural side of mysteries, but you make this book sound so good!

Tara said...

Bree, I'm not so sure I buy that Jacob exists! OR - what if he assumes the body of someone else and that someone is Claire (who is supposed to come back this season) and is Locke really going to kill her? You heard it here first. I do like the Juliet/Sawyer combo. Very nice. I just saw Jack on Ellen and she suggested a scenario in which time is changed, flight 815 never crashes, and they never meet one another....his response was that that may not be far from the truth! Oh my.

Jennysbooks, I wonder which ones you tried? I know she has a big series featuring one detective, I'm not super interested in those. In this book, the police procedural part doesn't happen until the end and it's pretty minor in comparison to the rest of the book.

Danielle said...

So sorry to hear about your husband--how scary! It is hard in an emergency situation like this when you also have a small child to look after--too bad you don't have any neighbors you're close with and comfortable to leave her with!! I'm glad everything turned out okay!

Am glad also you liked the Rendell book. I thought it was well done, too. Very simply told, but still powerful as well! I need to get back to a Rendell/Vine book soon!

Bree said...

I wonder then if this is going to be the show finale versus just the season finale???

Tara said...

Danielle, I'm just the sort of person that doesn't like asking people for favors...if it were truly an 'emergency' then I would have gotten help. Yes, loved the Rendell book! I've read a lot by her in the last year and a half.

Bree, well, just the season finale. What did you think? I was a little disappointed in the bomb aspect...I was expecting it to go off, so no surprise there. Locke was a surprise!

Tara said...

Danielle, I'm just the sort of person that doesn't like asking people for favors...if it were truly an 'emergency' then I would have gotten help. Yes, loved the Rendell book! I've read a lot by her in the last year and a half.

Bree, well, just the season finale. What did you think? I was a little disappointed in the bomb aspect...I was expecting it to go off, so no surprise there. Locke was a surprise!

Bree said...

I completely agree with you. So what is up with the Locke thing? Who is the Locke walking around? I kept thinking the Devil but they've never introduced a religious aspect to the show so I'm sure that's not it. I really thought there would be more SURPRISE or Umph to the ending than there was. And I really dont want next year to be the show finale. I think they could get a few more years out of the twists and turns.

Tara said...

Bree - I read an interview with the Locke actor - Locke is dead he says so Locke I think is really that guy from the beginning w/ Jacob. But how does he have the same body and what seems to be all the same knowledge?? Hmm. I'm not thinking religion really. I wasn't surprised by the ending - I wanted more! I'm sure the show could keep going but it sounds like many of the actors are ready to be done. The Grey's finale was much more surprising by the way!

Bree said...

I wasn't surprised by ending either. I wanted more as well. It wasn't very cliffhangingish as their shows have been all season. Kinda a let-down. Why would those actors want to quit a hit show? Do they really think they will find fame on the big screen or another TV series? Most will be forgotten.

Grey's finale was much more exciting. Who is going to die? I think George. I loved when the elavator door opened. I thought for sure it was going to be Denny standing in the opening. Did you know it was George who was hurt? I guessed it right away and kept yelling at the TV, "Its George people. Its George!"

Tara said...

Bree, I've heard some of the actors say that living is Hawaii is great, but they are ready to get back to real life. But I know what you mean, this will be the highlight of their career for many of them.

Ok Grey's. I only watched the last 45 minutes live (I was out) and watched the first part the next day. I had no idea what was going on with George so I was totally surprised but looking back there were clues. I think...that the next season will open with the elevator scene, Izzy will press the close button and she will live George will die. Read an interview which points out how much the creator of Grey's loves to write for Izzy, she's not going to let her go that easily!

Bree said...

Grey's - yeah that was my thought too. Izzy will live. She has excellent story lines. However, she is also the only actor on the show with recent hit movies as well (besides Patrick Demsey). I think Catherine Heigl could continue her stardom without Grey's. It'll be interesting to find out.

Tara said...

Bree, about Heigl - I agree, she will continue to find success in films, she beautiful, funny, and appealing, I think.