69 of 76 people found the following review helpful
Horror and Humor,
This review is from: Portobello (Hardcover)I imported Portobello from the UK in an excess of impatience to read the new Rendell, and I am thrilled to report it is horrific, claustrophobic, and yes, droll in turns. Rendell's genius still burns brightly, her sharp edge is unblunted, and we readers may rejoice, while compulsively turning the pages in a chill of ever-increasing dread. In this wicked tale, a well-to-do art gallery owner, Eugene Wren, is hiding a secret addiction from his doctor fiancee, Ella. He finds an envelope containing money and posts an ad, whereupon his fiancee becomes professionally embroiled with the owner of the envelope, Joel, whom we realize is, yes, insane. Meanwhile, a petty thief and burglar, Lance, is on the prowl in Eugene's wealthy neighborhood. Lance is living with his parsimonious Uncle Gib, a reformed thief now member of a fundamentalist church. Lance and Uncle Gib provide much of the comic relief. Goodness knows we need it, as Ella the caring doctor becomes disturbingly involved with Joel, whose madness is growing worse. There are burglaries, murders, drowning of a child, the firebombing of a house, and a pilfered chocolate cake. Tragedy is juxtaposed with absurdity, as in Eugene's terrible addiction to - sugar-free sweets, the euphoniously named Chocorange. The well off characters have the luxury of obsessing over imagined ills, while ignoring the unlocked garden gate, which will, we know, lead to real grief. The lower class characters get by on cunning, ruthlessness, and the dole; while the comfortably cocooned upper classes are chattering and, utterly naive about what it takes to survive, are the natural prey of the lowlifes who haunt the Portobello Road area. It is as if Theodore Dalrymple's social commentary were wedded to Ruth Rendell's story-telling talents. All told, a marvelous read, with a richly satisfying conclusion.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 17, 2010 3:44:24 PM PDT
I enjoyed your review more than the book!
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 17, 2010 5:36:12 PM PDT
Eileen Pollock says:
I hope you gave me a "helpful" vote! (I need all the help I can get.) Thank you!
Posted on May 3, 2011 4:43:59 AM PDT
I recommended this book to my book club and they all hated it. Thanks for reassuring me that it's them not me. ;)
Posted on Feb 29, 2012 12:59:43 PM PST
Is it necessary to write a review like a press release so that nothing is left out for the reader to experience even the slightest frisson? As a Director of Public Relations for many NY Houses, it was an art to lure the reader without saturating the plot.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 29, 2012 3:54:20 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 6, 2012 7:21:58 AM PST
Eileen Pollock says:
I deliberately piled on the plot intricacies and absurdities to demonstrate a point: That Rendell is juggling many disparate characters with the skill of an acrobat. I am not in PR so I do not have to "lure the reader without saturating the plot". My purpose in writing a review is to accurately describe the book without though revealing the ending or key plot twists. It is not to sell the book.
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