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Tigerlily's Orchids: A Novel Hardcover – June 14, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


" At 81, Ms. Rendell continues to write in impeccable form, dripping both mirth and malice"--Janet Maslin, New York Times

“Rendell marshals her large cast of vividly drawn characters with apparent ease, skewering their self-deception and satirizing their pursuit of self-gratification with great skill…. The result is a thrilling exercise.”—The Evening Standard (UK)

"Out of this spider's web of interwoven lives emerges ... a beautifully disguised and manipulated surprise, set amid the jittery background of the restless city."--The Independent (UK)

“Spellbinding…. It's hard to think of another writer in the genre doing this sort of thing so well, and none does it better.”--Washington Post

About the Author

Ruth Rendell (1930–2015) won three Edgar Awards, the highest accolade from Mystery Writers of America, as well as four Gold Daggers and a Diamond Dagger for outstanding contribution to the genre from England’s prestigious Crime Writ­ers’ Association. Her remarkable career spanned a half century, with more than sixty books published. A member of the House of Lords, she was one of the great literary figures of our time.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (June 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439150346
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439150344
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,053,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 111 people found the following review helpful By sb-lynn TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
Ruth Rendell is one of my favorite mystery writers, and I have read everything she has written. (She also writes under her pseudonym, Barbara Vine.) I have been a little disappointed with some of her recent books, such as The Birthday Present and Portobello but I was not disappointed with this one.

Brief summary and review, no spoilers:

At the beginning of this novel, a handsome young man named Stuart Font is planning to throw a party in his new flat. He is planning the guest list that includes all the residents in his apartment complex.

We also know from the start that Stuart is having an affair with a married woman named Claudia, and when Claudia's husband Freddie finds out about this affair he is definitely not happy. Many of the other characters in this novel are apartment tenants such as sad alcoholic Olwen, 3 young female college students, an ex- doctor newspaper columnist and his wife, a sleazy flat manager and his wife, a homeopathic healer, an ex-hippie who thinks the healer looks very familiar, and finally an elderly fussy retired policeman who is very concerned about keeping his flat warm.

There is also a very pretty young Asian girl across the street - Tigerlily from the title - and Stuart becomes obsessed with her.

As we become acquainted with all of these tenants in typical Rendell fashion, their lives will all intertwine in strange and sinister ways as the tension ratchets up. Full of the typical eccentric and oddball characters, I read this novel in one sitting.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mr. August VINE VOICE on June 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's hard to believe Ruth Rendell is 80 years old. I have read her work for years and she is not timid about changing her focus. In the past decade, she has triumphed when writing about an array of characters. Likewise, in this clever book, there is not a main character but, instead, a diverse group of college-age girls, working class whites, a drunk, a rich handsome boy and hippies. This group and others live outside of London in a small suburban block of private flats, not very expensive but more than a cut above public housing. We Americans would consider them the middle-class living through the recession. Rendell better describes this post Blair era with local stores closing, lost jobs and mortgage arrearage.

Rendell links these denizens and peripheral friends with the way they live now, not how they will die. The most narcissistic character is the one that is murdered, however. We are initially introduced to Stuart Font, a handsome, young heir who purchased one of the flats with the money left to him from an aunt. He is not very smart, rather a slow learner who doesn't know money runs out and cannot seem to refrain from seeing a married woman, Claudia, even after a broken arm courtesy of her husband. Claudia is obsessed with Stuart (the thrill of the chase), Stuart becomes obsessed with a beautiful Asian girl who is thus named Tigerlily.

I found all of her characters interesting, particularly Olwen, the middle-aged drunk, whose goal is to drink herself to death. Olwen's pursuit of gin and other potent alcohol is a staggering drama; the many ways she obtains her bottles are quite astonishing and sad.

Many of the tenants pursue each other allowing Rendell to delve into their obsessions.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Zev de Valera on July 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read most of the books written by Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine and have come to consider her one of my all-time favorite authors. She is actually the only writer who's books I will purchase in hardcover because I've always been certain that they will be worth the price and I will want to keep them. Rendell's last novel, Portobello, was brilliant and I thought: "wow, she just gets better!". Well, Tigerlily's Orchids is far from brilliant. All the ingredients are there:well-drawn characters,a setting so finely illustrated that one feels part of it, the potential for many plot twists with a surprise at the end. However, it never moves beyond potential and there are no surprises. It is like a soap opera story line that hooks the viewer at first but eventually disappoints when the writers are replaced and do not know how to wrap it up. Rendell is famous for exposing the horror beneath a mundane surface. In Tigerlilly's Orchids, all is surface and there are no surprises. If you have never read a Ruth Rendell novel, pass this one over- or wait until it is available for free at the public library.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Phillip O. VINE VOICE on June 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ruth Rendell is at the top of her game with her latest novel which once again features a familiar Rendell plot device - profiling an array of characters whose lives eventually become intertwined (although they usually don't know it). Lichfield House is an apartment building (flats) inhabited by a colorful cast of delusional characters. There is Stuart Font, a narcisstic and shallow man who is having an affair with a married woman. On the sixth floor lives Olwen, an older woman who is intent on drinking herself to death. Rounding out the collection is an ex-hippie, three college girls, a doctor and his wife and the flat manager who has a shady secret of his own. Across the street lives Duncan, a nosy and bored widower who constantly peers out his window at his neighbors and an anti-social Asian family whose mysterious comings and goings create speculation and interest from more than one character.

Readers who prefer simple whodunnits may be disappointed as Rendell's books are more about the relationships, delusions and obsessions of her characters. There is a murder (although it appears in the latter half of the book) but it is not the main focus here. Rendell has the ability to mesmerize her reader and her writing style quickly pulls you in and doesn't let up. She is an amazing writer.
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