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The Water's Lovely

3.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,461 Ratings  ·  354 Reviews
'Weeks went by when Ismay never thought of it at all. Then something would bring it back or it would return in a dream. The dream began in the same way. She and her mother would be climbing the stairs, following Heather's lead through the bedroom to what was on the other side, not a bathroom in the dream but a chamber floored and walled in marble. In the middle of it was a ...more
Paperback, 409 pages
Published August 2nd 2007 by Arrow (first published January 1st 2006)
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May 09, 2008 Heather rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Bah, humbug. This one was going along well enough, and it completely fell apart in the last 30-40 pages. What I like about Rendell is the way she sets multiple threads of plot in motion and inexorably draws them together into a web of revelations and ironically perfect fates for the villains. This book started out fine, lots of promising elements... long-ago mysterious death hidden by the family and never discussed (shades of The Minotaur and A Dark-Adapted Eye), sociopathic blackmailer, foresha ...more
Sep 09, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery

Ruth Rendell’s skill in penning psychologically based mystery/suspense novels is reaffirmed in each of my readings of her novels. I was not disappointed by this. She has again plumbed the broad expanse of the complexities of the human psyche. This intricate plot encompasses love, deceit, obsession, greed and chicanery, to name a few emotions.

It is remarkable to me that Rendell is able to spin her imaginative, mesmerizing tales utilizing her vivid, well-turned prose. This rich, meticulously pace
Mar 27, 2011 Kim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 27, 2016 Bandit rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Throughout her amazing prolific career Ruth Rendell specialized in dark psychological crime dramas. Had she written a romantic one, it would have naturally also been dark. In fact it would have been very much this book. Told through many varied perspectives of London's denizens, the focus here in on love, couples in love, individuals looking for love. Of course, this being a Rendell book, mostly everyone goes about things in a sordid, secretive, underhanded, manipulative and otherwise wrong ways ...more
Aug 08, 2009 Renee rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
AM I FROM THIS PLANET!? Do we seriously live in a world where women are only shrews, hypochondriacs, conniving blackmailers, or stupid super models, and the men are only hen-whipped, abusive assholes, petty criminals or idiots?? Really? I might have tolerated the story line of Ismay pining away for an emotionally abusive partner if a) we'd actually seen more of the cycle of abuse, good times, bad times, good times, bad times or b) if the other characters hadn't been so thoroughly unlike-able.

Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
My second Ruth Rendell novel, I’m absolutely blown away by this writer! I love her great characterizations; Marion Melville in particular is a vicious piece of work, totally despicable. The vulnerable people at the heart of this story are the Sealand family, particularly Heather who's assumed to have drowned her unsavory stepfather Guy in the bath. Characters include the above mentioned Marion Melville who cozies up to the lonely and aged in hopes of inheriting their property after she's poisone ...more
Jan 04, 2016 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Rendell's most smoothly and absorbingly written books, yet arguably one of her least satisfying -- certainly of those that I've read.

A dozen or so years ago, Ismay's younger sister Heather, then aged 13, drowned their stepfather in the bathtub while Ismay and her mum were out shopping. Or at least that's what Ismay assumes: she and mum have been acting on the principle that, if you don't actually talk something through, then it's easier to deny it -- and, besides, the cops and everyone el
Jan 23, 2012 Laura rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 12, 2011 Laurie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, book-group
Well, I suggested the book group read this, just because we previously mentioned reading something by Ruth Rendell, but boy, am I sorry. There are clearly characters, and a plot, but the book is missing a reason. Why read it? Indeed, why did she write it? This book is populated by assholes, morons, and crazy people, mostly psychopaths. That's it. Well, maybe Heather is okay. And Edmund ultimately turns out to be not as much of a schmuck as he started out being. Ismay is a moron, Andrew is an ass ...more
Aug 28, 2007 Judith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adultfiction
I've been a Rendell/Vine fan since I read "A Fatal Inversion". Nothing has ever come up to the breathtaking experience of that book, but nevertheless she remains one of my favourite writers.

I'm actually wondering about the Rendell/Vine distinction, which seems less clear as time goes on. Her Rendell novels used to tend to be more straightforward detective fiction (not only the Wexfords) and her Vine more in the realm of psychological thriller. "The Water's Lovely" seems to me to be more in the V
Apr 02, 2015 John rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Listened to this driving to/from Charleston. I'd never read any Ruth Rendell, and was looking forward to an introduction; I'm not sure this was it. An utterly bizarre novel, it opens 13 years after a crime that becomes relevant again both suddenly and improbably; the improbabilities just keep coming while the narrative veers between not much happening, things happening for no real narrative purpose (the whole subplot about poor Aunt Pamela), and things happening way too neatly. And then there's ...more
Aug 16, 2007 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are few authors writing in any genre that hold a candle to Ruth Rendell when she is at her best. Although she has a long-running traditional procedural mystery series featuring Inspector Wexford, in my opinion it is her stand-alone books written either as Rendell or Barbara Vine that best showcase her talents. She is one of the the best plotters in the business, setting up her characters and intrigues like an enormous chessboard where she knows the endgame before she lays a finger on the f ...more
Jun 02, 2009 Maureen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, novel
Ruth Rendell is one of a small group of writers whose writing is so top-notch, it transcends the mystery genre. Her books are meticulously plotted, with disparate elements that come together in the last few pages. I have read nearly everything she has written over the years, and have come to hold her in high regard.

All that being said, I was disappointed by this book. It was fairly easy to see where the story was heading, and there were just too many neat coincidences to make the plot ring true.
Janet Gogerty
Jun 14, 2014 Janet Gogerty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another paperback I picked up in a charity shop because of the author's name. A good story with twists and turns I did not guess. Writing in the third person, darting back and forth amongst various characters, much of the fun and suspense comes from the reader thinking he or she knows more about them than the characters themselves, or do we. It is also amusing to follow someone like Marion, then suddenly see her through another's eyes.
This is an example of a story set in a specific time so that
You can basically read how I feel about this book by reading any of the 1 or 2 star rating reviews listed below! I usually love Rendell but this was just awful! Don't even waste your time on it. Run do not walk! A few reviewers even copied each other's reviews so I will do the same. This is a copy of Laurie's review who is listed below me. Then another reviewer, Kim, copied Laurie. I will do the same but I didn't do this for a group read.

(view spoiler)
This Rendell owes a lot to Evelyn Waugh and Thomas Hardy -- and not in a good way. Do you enjoy excruciating detail about nothing much? Excessive focus on dislikeable characters, only never to learn what actually makes them tick? We somehow couldn't stop listening to this book, without much liking it, and then the ending made me want to rip the book into small bits--which I couldn't do because it is a set of plastic CDs. Many, many CDs.
Jun 10, 2015 Rebeca rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
El final me ha dejado mal sabor de boca ...
Oct 17, 2015 Almantė rated it did not like it

The Babes in the Wood was a good crime book and I enjoyed it, but The Water's Lovely is the opposite. A psychological novel where which is surely not a thriller.
There's only psychologic analysis of the past crime and how it affected all the women(mother and three(?) daughters) living in the same house where that happened. Next to that is the old bachelor's rebellion against his mother. Suddenly he starts dating one of those girls, none other than the one who commit the crime. Now that I thin
Martha Groeber
Feb 14, 2015 Martha Groeber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of Ruth Rendell's stand-alone novels, not in the Inspector Wexford series. I have had mixed feelings about her stand-alone novels. They are all tightly paced, intriguing stories; however, some can lean to the gruesome side. I was pleasantly surprised with this novel. Rendell never shies away from revealing the psychological intricacies of the human mind. She paints even her pathological characters in such a way that they seem believable and realistic. As much as one may dislike a cha ...more
Apr 20, 2015 F.R. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very English crime novel. Somehow such crimes as ingratiating yourself with a little old lady so that she changes her will in your favour, then attempting to poison her by pouring morphine over her cream dessert, always seem to belong more to England than anywhere else. (How proud we are!) There are other crimes on display here – blackmail and murder, to name but two; indeed the book does go to some very dark places – but the tone always manages to stay beautifully genteel. Even when s ...more
Oct 03, 2010 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, 6-09, 2010
This book is different than her Wexley mystery series. This is an excellent stand-alone thriller. Thirteen years ago, Ismay Sealand's step-father drowned in the bathroom. Years later, she maintains a close friendship with her sister Heather, while grabbing hold onto her boyfriend Andrew, who doesn't like her. Actually, it tears them apart. When her boyfriend's newest flame gets murdered, she suspects Heather did it, as she suspects Heather drowned their step-father. Meanwhile, Marion Melville is ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

In The Water's Lovely, three-time Edgar winner Ruth Rendell has written a subtle and darkly comic psychological thriller. The prolific Baroness, who also writes under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, is best known for her Inspector Wexworth series (starting with 1964's From Doon With Death), but she has also produced many excellent stand-alone novels. Most reviewers wholeheartedly praised the book, describing it as "virtuosic" (Entertainment Weekly), suspenseful, and "gleefully energetic" (New York T

Minty McBunny
This is my 3rd Rendell book, full of unlikable people & unlikely coincidences. The journey was better than the destination. I liked the sinister, dark, uncomfortable atmosphere but so many people were such awful jerks and the ending was deeply unsatisfying. I was frustrated that so many rotten characters didn't get their just desserts.

I'd like more recommendations of her better books if anyone has suggestions.

Nov 14, 2007 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007november
The Water's Lovely never quite came together for me the way I hoped it would. It's almost like an ensemble sitcom -- there are so many stories and no true main character(s) that it's hard to care too much about anyone in particular.

Each subplot is well written and interesting, but none of them particularly stand out. Perhaps it would have worked better as a collection of related short stories, with the most prominent (about the water) at novella length?

(Part of my annoyance was figuring out the
Vickie Britton
Feb 19, 2010 Vickie Britton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ruth Rendell is my favorite writer so she almost always gets 5 stars. That may seem generous but that's how I feel. If it wasn't for her books I feel sometimes I wouldn't have anything good to read. My tastes run toward the literary mystery. I am a mystery writer. Though most of my novels are not in this genre, I really enjoy reading them and might try my hand someday. This book had a chillng ending that really stayed with me.

For a more indepth review of mine of The Water's Lovely, please visit
Jan 27, 2008 Dagný rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best Ruth Rendell book I have read. These are murder mysteries. Rendell is such a strange writer. She has no mercy for her characters fate, nor does she see it as any of her business to set the (fictional) world right in terms of what we might think is just. When, as in this book, there are some sympathetic characters one fears for how they might fare in her hands. She has a mordant sense of humor and there is at least satisfaction to be had from her scathing send up of bad hu ...more
Mar 26, 2016 Lesley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a particularly rewarding and complex novel, with a wonderfully diverse cast of characters.
Set,as so often these novels by Ruth Rendell are, in London, it tells the story of a family in Clapham, elderly people in North London sitting in houses worth millions, and an unscrupulous miscreant called Marion who links them all.
There is an unusual amount of humour from Ruth Rendell in this book, far more than you would expect. Although there is murder (of course, both historical and contemporar
Mar 21, 2016 Melody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ismay and Heather Sealand are sisters who live with their mother, Beatrix, and Aunt Pamela in a two story flat. Their mother has schizophrenia after the death of their stepfather and Aunt Pamela is solely Beatrix's carer when the sisters are at work.

When Ismay and Heather were teenagers, something happened in the family that would always leave a mark in their life. When Ismay was fifteen and Heather thirteen, their stepfather, Guy, died from drowning in the bathtub. Ismay and Beatrix were out s
Mar 25, 2014 Megan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first, this book had all the ingredients of a perfect suspense/mystery novel: fascinating characters, sparkling yet believable dialogue, intriguing hints at a darkness in the pasts of the two sisters at the story's centre. But the final few chapters fell painfully flat. (view spoiler) ...more
A. Roy King
Aug 12, 2014 A. Roy King rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Water's Lovely" is one of Ruth Rendell's superb suspense stories. Rendell is perhaps best known for her Inspector Wexford novels, which are very good also, but I have always enjoyed more her one-off suspense stories.

Rendell has a way of opening up the inner lives of her characters and even of making sympathetic characters of her villains. Not that you end up rooting for them necessarily, but you do get to understand what makes them tick, and she manages to portray them as believable, multi-
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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.
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“She didn't really know London, only lived in it.” 1 likes
“People are different in reality from the way you've seen them while making scenarios in your mind. For one thing, they're less consistent. They surprise you all the time.” 0 likes
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