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Publisher's Summary

From three-time Edgar Award-winning mystery writer Ruth Rendell comes a captivating and expertly plotted tale of residents and servants on one block of a posh London street - and the deadly ways their lives intertwine.

Life in the well-manicured London locale of Hexam Place is not as placid and orderly as it appears. Behind the tranquil gardens and polished entryways, relationships between servants and their employers are set to combust.

Henry, the handsome valet to Lord Studley, is sleeping with both the Lord's wife and his university-age daughter. Montserrate, the Still family's lazy au pair, is helping to hide Mrs. Still's illicit affair with a television actor - for a small fee. June, the haughty housekeeper to a princess of dubious origin, is hard at work forming a "society" for servants to address complaints about their employers. Meanwhile, a disturbed gardener, Dex, believes a voice in his cellphone is giving him godlike instructions - that could endanger the lives of all who reside in Hexam Place.

A deeply observed and suspenseful update to the upstairs/downstairs genre, The St. Zita Society is Ruth Rendall at her incisive best.

©2012 Ruth Rendell (P)2012 Simon & Schuster Audio

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Cast of Unlikable Characters Doing Very Little

This is the first book by Ruth Rendell that I cannot recommend or even finish. The most glaring fault of The St. Zita Society is its immediate introduction to a large cast of forgettable characters that are impossible to keep straight. This can be irritating in a print novel but in the audio format, the confusing cast of dozens is downright frustrating. On the rare occasion that I find myself confused while starting an audiobook, I have attributed the fault to my own distraction or inattentive listening. Restarting the book or replaying a section usually gets me into the swing of things and invested in the story. Today, a couple hours of listening in, I found myself so bored I didn't even care enough to pause and replay in order to find out what was going on, I knew it was time to quit. Just so you know, it's never all about the plot for me. If a book is character driven and well written, I'm happy as a clam. My favorite book of the summer kept me riveted as the protagonist essentially just walked around for awhile in "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry." Rendell's writing is usually characterized by interesting characters and a compelling plot. Not this time. I recommend you give St. Zita a miss and opt for any other Ruth Rendell title. I also highly recommend "Asta's Book" or the many other novels she writes under the pseudonym "Barbara Vine." Still a loyal fan, I'm sure I'll pounce on the next Rendell offering as soon as it's released. I just hope when it comes time to select her characters, she chooses quality over quantity.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Very Disappointing

I am a huge Ruth Rendell fan. This is the worst of her novels that I've read. "St. Vita" skims across the surface, never delving deeply into any of the characters. There's a full cast of characters doing things that *could* be interesting but aren't. It took me weeks to read all the way through, because I kept getting confused about who was doing what and why. I kept thinking that I must have missed some vital passages. But no. Sad, as I love Ruth Rendell. But everyone's entitled to a miss from time to time. And I'll keep reading her novels. The narrator did a fine job.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary
  • Washington, DC, United States
  • 09-17-12

OK

Would you try another book from Ruth Rendell and/or Carol Boyd?

Ruth Rendell has been better, much better.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Probably not.

Any additional comments?

A very good author not at her best.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Teresa
  • Okemos, MI, United States
  • 07-15-13

Big Rendell Fan - Big Disappointment

I'm a long-time fan of Ruth Rendell, but not a fan of this book. Very dull, very predictable. Some subplots were left dangling. Ho hum. Glad it's over.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Latest great book from an always-wonderful writer.

If you could sum up The St. Zita Society in three words, what would they be?

Twists of fate.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The St. Zita Society?

Rad's last visit to Lucy.

Which scene was your favorite?

June's triumph.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Shock at some of the twists.

Any additional comments?

Felt as though the end could have used more detail to what happened to the characters. I think I can figure out what came next but I tend to like the author to spell it out a bit more for me so I can be sure my thoughts are the same as hers.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Pretty good

I liked the characters. there were a few twisted I didn't see coming as well. but the ending seemed rushed and incomplete. still an enjoyable read to past the time

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Excellent narration

Would you listen to The St. Zita Society again? Why?

Yes, compelling story, top notch narration.

What does Carol Boyd bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I was afraid i was going to listen to " Lynda Snell". But Carol Boyd was the best female narrator I have ever experienced. A pleasant voice for simple narration and apt and impressive characterizations for dialogue. Pleas give me a great deal more of Carol