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The Saint Zita Society

3.07 of 5 stars 3.07  ·  rating details  ·  1,315 ratings  ·  285 reviews
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
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Doubleday Canada (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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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
The Wee Hen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Jim Leffert
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
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
Tanja Berg
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
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
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
Morgan Golladay
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
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
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
This book had psychologically interesting characters, murder and an upstairs/downstairs thing going on. It was a fun read but I did have a couple of issues that kept me from giving it 4 stars. My issues with it were that it had a large cast of characters that I found to be a little difficult to keep up with in the beginning (I was listening to the audio version and couldn't go back for reference) and the story seemed to end a bit abruptly. There was a nice building of character and plot and then ...more
I'm a Ruth Rendell fan, but this one fell flat. I had a hard time getting into it,it began so slowly and there were so many characters it was hard to keep track of who was whom and who they worked for, etc., but I decided to keep going in the hopes it would get better. Usually, a Rendell book builds suspense and the payoff is thrilling, but this wasn't very thrilling-I kept wanting them to get on with it, and the killer isn't much more than a peripheral character and not menacing at all. Still, ...more
Thomas Bruso
Sleep inducing and sometimes dreadfully unmoving, Ruth Rendell's "The St. Zita Society" crawls at turtle speed in the first five chapters. The reason: too much telling, not enough pursuit.

Ruth succeeds at telling a solid story and draws on rich characterizations for her dark upstairs, downstairs London tale. Her one-of-a-kind Inspector Wexford novels are brilliant to the point of perfection in their gripping realism. But when she strays too far into stratosphere, which is the case with St. Zita
Like another late Rendell, "Tigerlilly's Orchard," St. Vita Society focuses not any one character, but on one location, one setting, and the various people who live there. This time it is an upper-middle class row of townhouses and detached houses, near Sloane Square. We see the vague, superficial relationships between the residents and the people they have working for them--drivers, au pairs, nannies, cleaners, gardeners, general factotums.
The downstairs crews know each other of course, but th
Sonny Br
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
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A.K.A. Barbara Vine

Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE, who also writes under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, is an acclaimed English crime writer, known for her many psychological thrillers and murder mysteries.
More about Ruth Rendell...
From Doon With Death (Inspector Wexford, #1) A Judgement in Stone The Babes in the Wood (Inspector Wexford, #19) A Sight for Sore Eyes Kissing the Gunner's Daughter (Inspector Wexford, #15)

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