ISBN-13: 9780307388018
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication Date: August 2008
Format: Paperback, 368 pgs
Source: Library

Ismay and Heather Sealand are sisters who live with their mother, Beatrix, and Aunt Pamela in a two story flat. Their mother has schizophrenia after the death of their stepfather and Aunt Pamela is solely Beatrix's carer when the sisters are at work. 

When Ismay and Heather were teenagers, something happened in the family that would always leave a mark in their life. When Ismay was fifteen and Heather thirteen, their stepfather, Guy, died from drowning in the bathtub. Ismay and Beatrix were out shopping for school uniforms when the incident happened; Heather was the only one at home with Guy. When Ismay and their mother reached home they were surprised to see Heather's dress and shoes wet; it was then Heather informed them that Guy was dead. The police did question them and Beatrix mentioned no one was at home then except Guy himself; plus Guy was weak and had just recovered from his illness. Without further evidence, the case was dropped and they carried on with their life, although Beatrix and Ismay had this thought that Heather might have drowned Guy. Ismay knew that Heather had seen Guy made advances on her and although Ismay was attracted by Guy and welcomed his warm gestures, she wasn't sure if Heather could tell the difference. Despite this thinking, they all remained silent and kept their thoughts deep in their mind. 

When they reached adulthood, Ismay has a lawyer boyfriend and Heather is working at a hospice kitchen. Heather gets acquainted with the hospice nurse, Edmund, and they get together eventually. However, Edmund's mother, Irene, isn't pleased and has hoped that Edmund will go out with Marion. Marion may seem like a kind-hearted woman who enjoys the company of the elderly, but in truth she is hoping to gain their trust so that when they passed they will leave some of their shares to her, which she had done so before. 

Ismay and her boyfriend, Andrew, have been together for two years but there is one problem which separates them - Andrew doesn't like Heather and Edmund and he hopes they wouldn't stay under the same roof. Ismay, on the other hand, is unsure if she should tell Edmund about Heather's teenage past and eventually decided to record her thoughts on tape, but that tape never falls onto Edmund's hands but onto some other. Andrew eventually found a gorgeous socialite and left Ismay. Heather has tried to coax the socialite upon leaving Andrew but failed. When the socialite was found murdered one day, Ismay feared Heather might have committed a crime for her once again. 

The Water's Lovely may be a subtle mystery filled with family melodrama but at its core it tells a relationship and the complexity between the two sisters' life. I really liked Ms. Rendell's writing; the way she built the suspense and how she constructed the plot as well as the characterisations all made this story a very compelling read. I couldn't say I liked any of the characters here; each of them was flawed and seemed to have an agenda but that was the purpose of this story. It made you wonder and that's what made this book a page-turner. Personally I  thought it was a very well crafted mystery although the intensity was different from the conventional suspense thrillers but I enjoyed reading it. A lot. 
18 Responses
  1. I just peeked at your review as I have this one on my own shelves and really want to read it! I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed it! I will push it to the top of my TBR thanks to you :)

  2. This is one author I've meant to try forever. I don't mind unlikable characters most of the time. Certain flaws make them seem all the more human for me.

  3. Kay Says:

    After my book group reading a bunch Ruth Rendell's books in January, I'm determined to sample a few of them. The one I read was a Barbara Vine book, so I'll have to try a Rendell one soon. This one sounds like it would make a good movie.

  4. Melody Says:

    Samantha - I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did! :-)

  5. Melody Says:

    Diane - I agree. I'm looking forward to reading more books by Ruth Rendell after enjoying reading this.

  6. Melody Says:

    Kay - I'll have to check out Barbara Vine's books as well. Thanks for telling me they're of the same author, Kay!

  7. I've only read one Rendell book, which I really liked. I've always meant to read more by her. I am glad you liked this one, Melody. Adding it to my wish list. :-)

  8. jenclair Says:

    I've read and enjoyed several of Ruth Rendell's books over the years. May have to check this one out!

  9. I've been wanting to try her books for a long time. To me, subtle mystery/suspense that's character driven is just as enjoyable as a thriller!

  10. Anonymous Says:

    I've had this author on my radar for awhile. This sounds like a grim story, but I'm glad the writing is very good. I'll look for her books, but maybe a different title-- thanks for your thoughts.

  11. FictionFan Says:

    Great review! This sounds like a really intriguing mystery and Rendell always seems to put a lot into her characterisation. I haven't read much of her stuff - keep meaning to read more.

  12. Melody Says:

    Wendy - This is the first Rendell book I read and definitely not the last. I hope you'll like it when you get to it. :-)

  13. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - This is my first Rendell book and I'm glad I liked it. Definitely a good start to her books, isn't it? :-)

  14. Melody Says:

    Diana - I totally agree with you on that!

  15. Melody Says:

    Rita - It was a grim story, no doubt. As I mentioned to the others, I'll definitely check out her other books. I know she has a series too so I might check them out as well.

  16. Melody Says:

    FictionFan - Thank you! Yes, her characterisation is one reason what made this book a compelling read. I'm going to check out her other books written by her other name, Barbara Vibe, as well.

  17. Iliana Says:

    Wow - a five star! This is on my list to read. I have read several Ruth Rendell mysteries and really enjoy them.

  18. Melody Says:

    Iliana - Yep, 5 stars! :-) I hope you'll enjoy this one as much as I did!

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by! I would love to hear from you.