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The St. Zita Society

3.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,589 Ratings  ·  319 Reviews
Life for the residents and servants of Hexam Place appears placid and orderly on the outside: drivers take their employers to and from work, dogs are walked, flowers are planted in gardens, and Christmas candles lit uniformly in windows. But beneath this tranquil veneer, the upstairs-downstairs relationships are set to combust.

Henry, the handsome valet to Lord Studley, is
...more
Hardcover, 257 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Scribner (first published July 5th 2012)
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Terri (Spoiler Alert ) Loved the book...big Ruth Rendell fan. The characters that got what they deserved: Preston. June, Zinnia and Rabia were granted their…more(Spoiler Alert ) Loved the book...big Ruth Rendell fan. The characters that got what they deserved: Preston. June, Zinnia and Rabia were granted their wishes which made this reader happy. I was sad to see Montserrat just skate away because in some ways she was just as evil as Preston. (less)
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50th out of 107 books — 266 voters
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45th out of 50 books — 16 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,756)
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Jennifer
Jul 27, 2012 Jennifer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Who are you and what have you done with Ruth Rendell? This is a distressingly ghastly book.

Rendell's style is here and I know some of her more recent novels have been getting a bit wobbly, so I suppose I must believe that she committed the crime of this book. It improves in the last quarter but the preceding three quarters were jaw-clenchingly awful and had it not been an author I had known and loved I would not have persisted. A pastiche of Alexander McCall Smith's Scotland Street or Corduroy
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Doreen
Nov 04, 2015 Doreen rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle
I’ve been a fan of Ruth Rendell (and Barbara Vine) for many years, and always look forward to another of her books. For the first time, I find myself disappointed.

The book is much more a social satire than a mystery. It focuses on relationships among servants and their employers, residents of upscale Hexam Place in London. The title refers to the society formed by the servants, the name referring to the patron saint of domestic servants. The club meets at the neighbourhood pub to drink and vent
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Teresa
Jan 09, 2013 Teresa rated it really liked it
3 and 1/2 stars

In my recent review of The Child's Child, I said that might be the last Rendell/Vine I read -- it was that bad -- but then I remembered this one that had come out shortly before and decided I would try it right away. I'm glad I did because it almost wiped out the bad taste of the former, even though I can say of this one what I also said of Tigerlily's Orchids: "Rendell uses one of her tried-and-true formulas here ...: Throw a group of disparate individuals ... together ... and se
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Bandit
Jan 21, 2016 Bandit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ruth Rendell had said some unflattering things about Agatha Christie back in the day, all essentially about Christie's characters and their world being too quaint to believably produce and support violence, murder and the like. Well, quaintness is something Rendell's characters and their world can never be accused of. Book after book, year after year, Rendell has created a London so bleak, populated by such a self serving, sad, sorry bunch of individuals that violence and murder seem to be a per ...more
Chris
Nov 15, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it
America isn’t quite the classless society that we like to think it is, but apparently, we are far closer than even modern day England. Rendell’s Zita’s Society is about a few houses in London and the people who inhabit them. The two classes that inhabit them – the servants (or not quite servants) and the employers (or not quite employers).
The thing is no one is really likable.
It’s kind of like a horror version of Eastenders.
But it’s good.
There are the affairs, murders, backstabbing. There a
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Maya Panika
There’s something terribly old fashioned about this book: the language, the situations, the characters, even the way the pub seems to be at the centre of everyone’s social life - it all has the feeling of something written in the eighties or earlier, it certainly doesn’t feel like it was written this century. Just one (of many) examples of this is the misuse and misunderstanding of the role of the mobile phone. Having placed a mobile right at the heart of the story, Ruth Rendell then has a 22 ye ...more
Nick
Sep 09, 2012 Nick rated it liked it
This is not her best work, but even Ruth Rendell's worst is better than most other people. She continues to be great at drawing characters and even in her more forgettable mysteries -- and this is one of them -- I am still impressed by her plotting. I thought her most recent, The Vault, was far better and would prefer if she returned to that more traditional body-in-the-first chapter whodunnit structure. But I'm not going to lie: I'll still read anything she writes, usually within a few months o ...more
Kay
Feb 12, 2013 Kay rated it liked it
This is the second book by this author that I've read (Portobello being the first) and her style is beginning to take on a pattern. She takes at least the first third of the book to build the characters and just about when a reader has given up, a crime happens. In this book there are so darn many characters to follow that it is touch to stick with it. They all live and/or work on the high-brown Hexam place. Luckily, on the inside cover is an outline of the street with the houses and the charact ...more
Roger Pettit
Jul 27, 2012 Roger Pettit rated it liked it
Ruth Rendell is undoubtedly one of the very best crime writers of the past 50 years or so. She writes two sorts of novels. First there are her orthodox crime stories of a whodunit nature. These are usually set in a Sussex market town known as Kingsmarkham and feature a police officer by the name of Reginald Wexford (who, when the series began, was a Detective Chief Inspector). Rendell also writes standalone psychological thrillers. These generally involve characters with an abnormal psychologica ...more
Shirley Schwartz
Sep 20, 2012 Shirley Schwartz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Expect the unexpected. It's a Rendell book so the unexpected and the off-the-wall are the norm. I love Ruth Rendell's writing. It's always a treat and it certainly is usually different than the mainstream. No one does weird and downright spooky people like Ruth Rendell and this book has about seven or eight of them. At first it's hard to keep all the characters straight but as I read, they became much clearer. This is a book about a bunch of servants that live in an upper class London neighbourh ...more
Shonna Froebel
Nov 17, 2012 Shonna Froebel rated it it was ok
This stand-alone mystery is Rendell's latest. The plot revolves around the people who live on Hexam Place in London, primarily the servants. June, a long-serving retainer of one wealthy woman forms the St. Zita Society, a group encompassing the servants, to discuss issues that affect them. The group is loosely formed and lacks real purpose.
The plot here moves very slowly and the characters are the focus of the story. June, an elderly servant, of a similar age to her employer, who shows a certain
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Cyndy
Aug 21, 2012 Cyndy rated it did not like it
I have been reading this author for over 20 years. Mostly out of habit lately. I used to think she had this incredible way of weaving a story with characters that were so interesting. But lately she's been throwing in a little political rhetoric in her books (she is a liberal member of parliament) and it's predictable and boring. She seems very contemptuous of white, conservative British citizens, portraying them as either snobbish or incredibly stupid. Her characters that are of an ethnic varie ...more
Amanda Patterson
The workers of Hexam Place, an exclusive street of Georgian houses, decide to form The Saint Zita Society. Zita was the patron saint of domestic workers. Rendell fills the pages with psychologically damaged characters. Upstairs, we have the unhappily married Preston and Lucy Still; The Princess; Dr Jefferson; Lord and Lady Studley; Damian and Roland. Downstairs, we have au pair, Montserrat, nanny, Rabia and cook, Zinnia; housekeeper, June; chauffeur, Beacon, gardener, Dex; chauffeur, Henry; unpa ...more
Sonny Br
Jul 23, 2014 Sonny Br rated it really liked it
Highly enjoyable. Don’t be put off by others’ negative comments on this site. To my mind, this one’s at least equal in quality to Portobello and No Man’s Nightingale (by Rendell) and The Cuckoo’s Calling (by Galbraith/Rowling). I’m sure I’ll read more by The Right Honourable The Baroness Rendell, CBE. The quality of the characterizations, the insights into characters’ interior lives, and her graceful style highlight just how mediocre James Patterson, Michael Robotham and certain other popular th ...more
Kelley
Dec 03, 2012 Kelley rated it it was ok
This was another book club read, not something I would have picked up on my own. After reading the credentials of the author (I have never read her before) I was quite excited to jump right in. I must say I was sadly disappointed. I thought the title a bit confusing since the society really played a very small role in this novel. Other than separating, congregating and introducing the "servants" as the main characters I really didn't see the point of the society itself, it added nothing to this ...more
Mary Wilt
Aug 18, 2012 Mary Wilt rated it it was ok
For the first time in my life, I read a Rendell book I did not care for. Out of long respect for the author, and in light of the fact that I have read EVERY SINGLE ONE of her previous 60+ novels, I slogged through it. Boring. I have never said a Rendell book was boring before. Pity.
Carla Patterson
Oct 06, 2015 Carla Patterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-challenge
Sort of an Upstairs/Downstairs feel to this one, albeit from the very distinctive viewpoint of the author. After reading so many of her books, I'd say that she seems to be one of the most cynical writers I've read... something about her writing keeps me reading but it's definitely not because I like how she portrays her characters or how her stories end. I'm too much of an optimist for that. On the other hand, I love detail and evocative scene setting and Rendell offers that in abundance. She al ...more
The Wee Hen
Aug 27, 2012 The Wee Hen rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sandra Parshall
Nov 26, 2012 Sandra Parshall rated it really liked it
Ruth Rendell’s greatest strengths have always been her pitiless eye for human foibles and her ability to crawl around inside the mind of any character, from any walk of life. Here she turns her attention to the servants on a short, posh London block called Hexam Place.

June, elderly companion to an equally elderly “princess” with obscure credentials but plenty of money, has many discontents but hangs on in the hope of an ultimate reward. Henry, a handsome young valet/chauffeur, is bedding both hi
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Julie
Nov 29, 2013 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Another slightly odd book by Ruth Rendell - definitely not classic crime fiction in the traditional sense.
The story tells of the trials and tribulations of a number of characters at Hexam Place, a wealthy street in the wealthiest part of London. While most of the action focuses on "below stairs" with the Saint Zita Society representing the servants (sometimes in a loose sense of the word) of the street, there is the odd glimpse into life above stairs.
My main issue with this book was that there
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Leanna
Sep 13, 2012 Leanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysterious
I can always count on Ruth Rendell. Her standalone novels (which I love more than the Wexford series) are full of weird characters with morbid habits, and this book didn't disappoint.

The book flap implies that Dex, the man recently released from a mental institution (he tried to stab his mother), whose cellphone service provider is a god inside his phone, is the main character. But he's really one of an assortment who make up the Saint Zita Society- a group of servants and house-workers all livi
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J.
Sep 20, 2012 J. rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, rendell
This is Rendell's third take on the Cast Of Thousands mystery, and if you have the choice, choose rather the subtleties of her Portobello, or the complex swirl of Tigerlily's Orchids, instead of this one. Intricate by any standard, for Rendell this is only a placeholder in her latest fascination, the large-ensemble mystery.

Not immediately apparent is why, for three books appearing in close succession, she would chose the method here. She is of course the Maestro of the shifted-perspective story
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Jim Leffert
Sep 30, 2012 Jim Leffert rated it liked it
Ruth Rendell’s latest is a serviceable but unexceptional novel about the upstairs and downstairs people who inhabit Hexam Place, a posh residential block in London. One of the latter, June, gathers her peers to form a St. Zita Society, named for the patron saint of domestic servants, hence the title. Another, Thea, objects that she isn’t a really a servant (she does all her labors voluntarily, without pay) but agrees to join as an honorary member. (This is about as droll as this rather dry tale ...more
Susan Johnson
Oct 26, 2012 Susan Johnson rated it liked it
This book reminded me of Maeve Binchey's last few books. It's set in a certain place with a large cast of characters who all come together and tells how their lives interlace. Rendall's is set on the well heeled street of Hexam Place. It's concerned mostly with the servants who form a social organization called St. Zita's Scoiety. It is so far below Rendall's usual excellence that I almost wept.
The plots are very contrived and, frankly, not very interesting. It's very hard to like any of the cha
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Tanja Berg
Jul 30, 2014 Tanja Berg rated it liked it
Shelves: murder-mystery
This was another enjoyable vacation read that I will have forgotten within a few days. Although it was perfectly acceptable as a poolside read, I struggle to understand what the author wanted to say with this book. The characters were okay though, and sometimes very funny at their own expense. I liked the noir feel of the book, but a sense of purpose would have been nice.
Felix Hayman
Oct 10, 2012 Felix Hayman rated it did not like it
Oh how I wanted to like this book.And I tried.But the plot and characterisations are so appallingly thin that as the book progressed I not only got lost in the fact that there was no empathy with any character or even any liking forthe plot.
A group of house staff meet on a regular basis to thrash out problems in their local neighbourhood and one accidentally gets involved in a "murder".The plot unwinds in a confused fashion till the ultimate deus ex machina in the last few pages, which,sadly I p
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Tony
Aug 19, 2012 Tony rated it it was ok
THE ST. ZITA SOCIETY. (2012). Ruth Rendell. **.
St. Zita is the patron saint of domestic servants, according to this novel. The society we are talking about is, obviously, composed of domestics. The ones of interest are those that work in the houses on Mexam Place in London. Fortunately, there are only about eleven houses and a pub on that street or we would have been subjected to even more characters up front. All of the domestics have their particular quirks and individual relationships with t
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Morgan Golladay
Oct 14, 2012 Morgan Golladay rated it it was amazing
Not all is at it seems on the surface in Hexam Place, one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in London. Rendell takes us on a penetrating journey into the lives of the upper class owners and the lower class servants and companions who reside and live out of the 11 houses on this street. The link between our characters is their morality, or lack of it. We see a cross-section of the London population under Rendell's probing microscope, with murder, snobbery, and extra-marital affairs adding spice ...more
Mary
I love Ruth Rendell and will continue to read everything she writes, but this novel felt sort of meandering and incomplete. I think there were just too many characters to flesh out any of them satisfactorily. The murder theme just trailed away into nothing and there was a noted lack of the escalating suspense as characters decompensate, which is a hallmark of this author's earlier work. Let us hope The Child's Child: A Novel, penned under Ms. Rendell's nom de plume Barbara Vine and due out in De ...more
Charla
Sep 16, 2012 Charla rated it it was ok
For the first few chapters of the book I kept checking the jacket to make sure this was a mystery because it read like a kind of "Upstairs, Downstairs" type book. Once the actual crime was committed it was interesting for a bit and then started wandering off again. There were way too many characters for the story, none of them were really developed enough and some could have been done away with completely to make the plot easier to follow. The plot did not flow well, there were all these side th ...more
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A.K.A. Barbara Vine

Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE, who also wrote under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, was an acclaimed English crime writer, known for her many psychological thrillers and murder mysteries and above all for Inspector Wexford.
More about Ruth Rendell...

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