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The Water's Lovely

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  3,012 ratings  ·  412 reviews
The award-winning author of The Babes in the Wood and The Rottweiler brings us another terrifically paced, richly drawn novel of suspense and psychological intrigue.

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 always began in the same way.

She and her mother would be
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 14th 2006 by Doubleday Canada (first published January 1st 2006)
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Average rating 3.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,012 ratings  ·  412 reviews

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May 09, 2008 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
Mar 24, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 06, 2009 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.

Deb Jones
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ruth Rendell is one gifted writer. The more of her books that I read, the more I want to read.

The Water's Lovely is something of a mystery but also so much more. A central cast of characters to whom the reader becomes closely drawn, characters that are as genuine as anyone you might know in the flesh. Even the characters who are peripheral are integral to the plot, a plot that grows ever more convoluted.

This was one of those books for me left me feeling a bit stranded at
Sep 01, 2011 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, metic
Mar 27, 2016 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
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
Aug 28, 2007 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 m
Jan 04, 2016 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
Jan 23, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 02, 2015 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
Dec 11, 2010 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
Lady Delacour
As a Ruth Rendell fan
this is my favorite
book of hers to date.
Narrator Sian Thomas
performance was wonderful.
She captured the rhythm
and flow of Mrs. Rendells
original writing style.
Mild Foul Language.
Aug 16, 2007 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 01, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, mystery
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 plo
Janet Gogerty
Jun 14, 2014 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
Val Penny
The most recent book of the month for our book group was The Water's Lovely by Ruth Rendell. The author, 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. Although this is a genre I enjoy, I had never read any novels by Ruth Rendell, so I was pleased to have an excuse to read The Water's Lovely. This is ...more
Christopher Madsen
More great mystery crime writing from Rendell this one about two sisters one of whome may or may not have killed their step father when she was 13. Rendell gives even her most revolting characters just a little bit of humanity. This one had just a little too much coincidence to be wholly believable. Still a great read.
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The opening chapter sets up a crucial question which the main characters carefully avoid asking for the next 13 years, finally only ginning up the courage in the closing pages. We follow the activities of eight (more or less) interrelated characters in short (2 or 3 page) vignettes which move the plot at a glacial pace. None of them is particularly appealing, and several are downright irritating. The suspense was not killing me.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read any Ruth Rendell so this was an introduction. It is not an Insp. Wexford; there isn't an investigation at all, although there was a brief one at the time Guy drowned.
A widowed woman married a slightly younger man, expecting him to be a good step father to her two teen aged daughters. While the older girl (15) was attracted by him the younger (13) was most definitely not. Guy became ill and took some time to recover. He developed the habit of bathing in the afternoon and one after
Jan 17, 2011 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
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) ...more
Bob Mackey
I grabbed The Water's Lovely in an attempt to read a few mysteries that don't predate WWII, and, this being my first Rendell book, found the author's style pretty absorbing. It's a type of storytelling obviously influenced by serialized TV dramas, and Rendell does a great job of passing the narrative baton between characters as she draws them closer and closer together. I was also thoroughly impressed by her use of foreshadowing; though I guessed a few of the twists, she consistently showed self ...more
Martha Groeber
Feb 05, 2015 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
Avid Series Reader
I'm a fan of Ruth Rendell's Wexford series, and have read most (if not all) of her other books. This standalone (non-series) mystery, set in modern-day London, is a big disappointment. Rendell has won just about every award for her superb mysteries, so I was certain this book would be equally fantastic. It starts out on a strange note, and remains a bit off-kilter. It's a story of relationships: two sisters live in a duplex with their mother and aunt, years after a traumatic childhood event. I c ...more
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, thriller, 6-09
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
May 27, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 Times), with a "head-spinning finale" (Christian Science Monitor).(Christian(New(Entertainment

Dec 21, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Worst ending ever. The story begins with the recollections of Ismay, now an adult. She frets for about the first third of the novel about whether her younger sister Heather drowned their stepfather in a bathtub 13 years previous. Other characters are introduced and most are distinctly unlikeable. A conniving woman who will stoop to blackmail, attempted murder, lying, stealing, cheating, to get money. She has a worthless alcoholic homeless brother. The suspected murderer Heather has a boyfriend w ...more
Remember, one man's breezy description may be another man's spoiler.

This is my first contact with author Ruth Rendell, who's supposed to be a paragon of a mystery writer.

Maybe it's because I jumped into her work with a later volume, rather than reading them chronologically as written, but I was underwhelmed.

I can appreciate the individual characters, but they are programmed into a plot that periodically trots each out and mechanically interweaves them. I felt
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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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