This blogger agrees with me that Ruth Rendell’s most recent novel, published under the name Barbara Vine and titled The Child’s Child was a disappointment. Her penultimate book The St. Zita Society was even worse.
I think the problem might be that at the age of 83 Rendell insists on writing about young people whom she simply doesn’t understand and whose lifestyles are alien to her. There is no doubt in my mind that this writer could create a beautiful novel about people of her own age. Such novels would have a big audience. Why she persists in her obsession with characters in their twenties is a mystery to me.
5 thoughts on “Ruth Rendell’s Decline”
Isn’t this one of the things that editors are for? I guess that wouldn’t work if she’s too big a name to seriously edit or if the editor is another living fossil.
But that could still work – all you have to is set the novel 20 years ago. I remember being disoriented by a latter Sue Grafton novel a couple of years ago by things like pay phones until some other references made it clear it was set in the mid 80’s.
I think the problems with the book are not merely the age of the characters, but that they are simply stuck together. In A dark-adapted eye she paid a lot of attention to character development. In this one the characters were inconsistent, well not even that, becauser there was not much for them to be inconsistent to.
Rendell’s greatest talent was always character development but, you are right, her recent characters are flat and indistinguishable from one another.
Oh I am so relieved it is not just me who feels this way. Just finished “The Child’s Child” and I must admit to skipping a few bits.
I also second the view that the St Zita Society was bad.
I guess (speaking as an editor) someone of RR’s status in the publishing world is unlikely to undergo much editing beyond a basic proofread.
I’m sincerely glad I got both books from the library and didn’t waste my hard earned cash on them!