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The St. Zita Society

3.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,937 Ratings  ·  380 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
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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More like 2.5 stars. This book is the story of the lives of the people who live and work in Hexam Place, in Pimlico, London.
The first third of this book follows each character's daily life, but there are so many of them I must admit to being extremely confused most of the time. The second third is pretty much the same formula but with a murder thrown into the mix. The last third is, yes you've guessed it, more of the everyday life of these people, albeit with another murder occurring. And that i
Jul 26, 2012 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
Sep 22, 2012 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
Jan 09, 2013 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
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
Jan 21, 2016 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
Nov 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-british
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
Sep 09, 2012 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
Rachel Hall
2.5 stars

A disappointing effort from the so named "Queen of Crime", Ruth Rendell, The Saint Zita Society is spectacularly lacking in suspense and with a decidedly contrived cast and premise. Written in the autumn of her long career, The Saint Zita Society is Rendell's 62nd novel and is a strangely uneven affair which feels rather haphazard as it plods through the first third, rapidly introducing the residents of Hexam Place and their tenuous array of hired help. The names are enough to be the so
Roger Pettit
Jul 27, 2012 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
Feb 12, 2013 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
Aug 21, 2012 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
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
I wasn't interested in any of the mundane goings on in this book. Most of the characters didn't feel real and weren't compelling to read about. The book did pick up about halfway through, and I was angry at an event that happened toward the end of the plot, so that merited the second of two stars I gave this book. I'd be interested in trying another Rendell, but perhaps in the beloved Wexford series rather than a stand alone.
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, cl
Le doy tres estrellas porque me gusta la forma en que está escrito y porque me ha resultado entretenido, pero la historia no me ha gustado especialmente. Me parece que hay personajes desaprovechados, especialmente Dex, y otros en los que quizá se recrea demasiado. El final tampoco acaba de convencerme.
Shonna Froebel
Nov 17, 2012 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
Shirley Schwartz
Sep 16, 2012 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
Ant Koplowitz
Sep 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I’ve been an avid fan of Ruth Rendell’s work since the 1970s, and have enjoyed almost everything she’s written, so it saddens me to say that I don't think her latest book is anywhere near her best. Her books are always a real treat, something to look forward to, and something to savour and enjoy. With the Saint Zita Society she has once again written about the world she knows and loves best: London and its seemingly endless cast of idiosyncratic and often downright odd characters.

This story take
Apr 01, 2013 rated it liked it
The St. Zita Society is a modern-day "Upstairs/Downstairs" story, introducing us to the residents of ritzy Hexam Place, one of the top addresses in London, and to the people who work for them.

The Society itself is a group formed by the maids, nannies, companions,and drivers of Hexam Place, mainly to exchange complaints about their employers.

The large cast of characters can be confusing at first, but eventually sorts itself out. The neighbors consist of an elderly, reclusive princess of dubious a
Another thrilling masterpiece written by the unforgettable Dame Rendell.

4* Going Wrong
4* The Keys to the Street
3* The Fever Tree and Other Stories
4* A Judgement in Stone
3* Fall of the Coin
4* People Don't Do Such Things
3* The Girl Next Door
2* To Fear a Painted Devil
3* Dark Corners
3* Live Flesh
4* The St. Zita Society

Inspector Wexford series:
3* Some Lie and Some Die (Inspector Wexford, #8)
3* Shake Hands Forever (Inspector Wexford, #9)
3* A Sleeping Life (Inspector Wexford, #10)
3* The Veiled One (In
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
Rosemary Cantrell
I really have mixed feelings about this book. It is set in England so has a different tone to it, as do many English books. That was OK, as I find that refreshing. My biggest problem was that there were so many characters, introduced so quickly, that I had trouble keeping straight who was who, especially when the story jumped quickly from one person to another. I sometimes read a couple of paragraphs before I realized it was a different character than the one I was thinking about.

The whole story
Sonny Br
Jul 23, 2014 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
Nov 27, 2012 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 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.
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
St. Zita is the patron saint, says one character, of those who serve, so when June decides that the servants of Hexum Place should get together to form a committee, that's the name they use. The committee, however, is plagued from the beginning: no one has any agenda items, and the single item most disturbing to June -- the tendency of dog owners to drop their small bags of poop amongst the roots of trees rather than in the garbage cans -- is dismissed without comment at the City council. They m ...more
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Der Hexam Place liegt in einer der exklusivsten Wohngegenden Londons, gesäumt von den herrschaftlichen Wohnhäusern von Ärzten, Bankern und einer (Möchtegern-)Fürstin - der Art von Häusern, in denen es noch Bedienstete gibt. Das bunt zusammengewürfelte Häuflein von Chauffeuren, Köchinnen, Gärtnern und "Mädchen für alles" schließt sich auf Anregung der Dienstältesten zur "Saint Zita Society" zusammen. Benannt nach der Schutzheiligen des Hauspersonals, soll der neu gegründete Verein den Zusammenhal ...more
Sandra Parshall
Aug 24, 2012 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
Aug 04, 2012 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
The Wee Hen
Jul 26, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 24, 2012 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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Who do you think phoned Dex as Peach 6 38 Nov 09, 2014 12:17PM  
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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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