In the waning months of the Second World War, a group of children discover an earthen tunnel in their neighbourhood outside London. Throughout the summer of 1944 - until one father forbids it - the subterranean space becomes their 'secret garden', where the friends play games and tell stories.
Six decades later, beneath a house on the same land, construction workers uncover a tin box containing two skeletal hands, one male and one female. As the discovery makes national news, the friends come together once again, to recall their days in the tunnel for the detective investigating the case. Is the truth buried among these aging friends and their memories?
This impromptu reunion causes long-simmering feelings to bubble to the surface. Alan, stuck in a passionless marriage, begins flirting with Daphne, a glamorous widow. Michael considers contacting his estranged father, who sent Michael to live with an aunt after his mother vanished in 1944. Lewis begins remembering details about his Uncle James, an army private who once accompanied the children into the tunnels, and who later disappeared.
In The Girl Next Door Rendell brilliantly shatters the assumptions about age, showing that the choices people make - and the emotions behind them - remain as potent in late life as they were in youth.
©2014 Ruth Rendell (P)2014 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
"Ruth Rendell is unequivocally the most brilliant mystery writer of our time. She magnificently triumphs in a style that is uniquely hers." (Patricia Cornwell)
"Probably the greatest living crime writer in the world." (Ian Rankin)
"Ruth Rendell has raised the game of the crime novel in this country through the sheer quality of her writing." (Peter James, International bestselling crime thriller novelist)
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"More about relationships than a crime novel"
As with many of Ruth Rendells’s non-Inspector Wexford novels this book hardly qualifies as a crime/detective story. A crime is committed, and we know from the start who did it, but it isn’t the core of the book. The author creates superficially ordinary people who are actually rather odd and do surprising things. It’s the exploration of the psychology behind their actions that is interesting and keeps one reading/listening.
The narrative switches between the last years of the second World War and the present day and follows the lives and loves of a group a people, who met as children in the Essex town of Loughton, and who are all associated in some way with the people or events surrounding the crime. A crime that was only discovered in modern times and the revelation of which brings the now elderly children back together with life-changing consequences.
I enjoyed the book though I see from Amazon reviews that it has divided readers/listeners. Maybe it appeals to older people who can empathize more easily with the characters.
The narrator is excellent.
"Older People And Their Stories"
Although this Rendell novel begins with a murder, it acts as a plot device to reunite a group of older people who played in the tunnels located in Loughton, near London during the Second World War. The Batchelor brothers and their respective wives, retired solicitor, Michael Winwood, whose nearly childhood was blighted by danger and neglect and his former next-door-neighbour, Daphne Furness, nee Jones. All of the friends have now scattered throughout London, but the discovery of a pair of entertwined hands in a biscuit tin in the tunnels during the present day have repercussions for all of the group.
The book was extremely compelling and was a great choice to take on holiday. Ric Jerrom was an excellent narrator with a deep, expressive and slightly laconic manner. My only issue is with an aspect of the plot is the unsavoury past incident towards the end. That said, it doesn’t really detract from the quality of the writing.
A much better story, better character development and less stereotypes
No excitement or surprises, it plodded along and was old fashioned and bland
Did the best possible with the material
Boredom and disappointment. Hard to believe Ruth Rendell was the author
Found characters bit difficult to follow. Not to sure about story line. Weaved a bit to much back and forth in time before getting to the real base of the story. But still enjoyed it.
"Lacking the Rendall magic"
This is a novel about getting older, or at least Ruth Rendell's take on getting older. I spent a lot of time wondering how she reached the conclusions and opinions she voiced through her characters because they sounded so dated. The narration didn't help as Ric Jerrom has a very irritating style which grates. On the whole, rather disappointing.
"Waste of a credit"
I'm not sure who would enjoy this book
There is no intrigue or plot, boring book
The narration was excellent given the poor material they had to work with
Most of them
The story is told in the first couple of paragraphs
"A surprising book from Ruth Rendell."
Ric Jerrom is an excellent reader with many accents. He held my attention when parts of the story became a bit overlong. Surprising ending!
"really tried to get in to this"
but could not just not the sort of book you can have on and relax too . just thinking about who he talking about and have to go back over what just happened .
"Probably not worth the effort"
The story dragged, there were too many characters and it got a bit confusing. I didn't like the ending, too many loose ends tied up, the conclusion seemed like a big let down. I wouldn't listen to it again. The narrator wasn't too bad, fairly easy to listen to.
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