Ruth Rendell is widely considered to be crime fiction's reigning queen, with a remarkable career spanning more than 40 years. Now, in Portobello, she delivers a captivating and intricate tale that weaves together the troubled lives of several people in the gentrified neighborhood of London's Notting Hill.
Walking to the shops one day, 50-year-old Eugene Wren discovers an envelope on the street bulging with cash. A man plagued by a shameful addiction - and his own good intentions - Wren hatches a plan to find the money's rightful owner. Instead of going to the police, or taking the cash for himself, he prints a notice and posts it around Portobello Road. This ill-conceived act creates a chain of events that links Wren to other Londoners - people afflicted with their own obsessions and despairs. As these volatile characters come into Wren's life - and the life of his trusting fiancé - the consequences will change them all.
©2010 Ruth Rendell (P)2010 Random House Audio
"Rendell is particularly adept at portraying young people just a dole check away from homelessness as well as the carelessness and callousness of the book's upper-middle-class characters. Her style has become ever more spare while retaining its subtle psychology and vivid sense of place." (Publishers Weekly)
Writer, painter and unabashed romantic with passion for history and mystery.
Poignant, funny, human and sardonic, a spellbinding evocation by Ruth Rendell of a time - 2007 - and a place - the Portobello neighborhood of London - both distinct and universal. Rendell's rich and sensuous narrative draws us into the complicated and vivid lives of upper middle class, lower middle class, criminal, and slacker Londoners as if met on a stroll through Portobello. Each wants something elusive - security, sanity, love, food, or simply human contact - and we feel their longings as we wonder what will happen next in the convoluted, Dickensian plot driven by conflicting desires and obsessions. Tim Curry's narration splendidly summons the beauty and ugliness of the characters and their deeds.
The interweaving of the various plots and characters is masterful. This is one of the best of Rendell's novels I've read. The characters are fascinating. Their failings and struggles are involving and often touching. And, miracle of miracles, it doesn't end in misery! The narrator does a wonderful job with all the different accents. He portrays women well, which is challenging. This is an audiobook that you can read over and over again. Ten stars.
This book is anticlimactic. The story is about how anything can be addictive if you let it, how everyone can be controlled by inner demons, and how everyone has a good and a bad side.
Tim Curry has a way of making a really boring story listenable. He was able to bring the characters to life. I thought often of his performance of a cereal killer on the TV show Criminal Minds. I hated the character, but couldn't turn away.
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