Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication Date: August 2008
Format: Paperback, 368 pgs
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.