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The St. Zita Society

Ruth Rendell: The St. Zita Society (USA 2013)

From the Publisher:
Life on Hexam Place appears orderly on the outside: drivers take their employers to and from work, dogs are walked, flowers are planted in gardens. But beneath this tranquil veneer, this quintessentially London world of servants and their masters is set to combust. Henry, the handsome valet to Lord Studley, is sleeping with both the Lord's wife and his university-age daughter. Montserrat, the Still family's lazy au pair, assists Mrs. Still in keeping secret her illicit affair with a television actor -- in exchange for pocket cash. June, the haughty housekeeper to a princess of dubious origin, tries to enlist her fellow house-helpers into a "society" to address complaints about their employers. Meanwhile, Dex, the disturbed gardener to several families on the block, thinks a voice on his cell phone is giving him godlike instructions -- commands that could imperil the lives of all those in Hexam Place.

Ruth Rendell: The St. Zita Society. A Novel. Scribner's, ISBN 9781451666694 (August, 2013), 272 p., $16.00.

 

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The Saint Zita Society

Ruth Rendell: The Saint Zita Society (UK 2013)

From the Publisher:
'Someone had told Dex that the Queen lived in Victoria. So did he, but she had a palace and he had one room in a street off Warwick Way. Still he liked the idea that she was his neighbour.'

Dex works as a gardener for Dr Jefferson at his home on Hexam Place in Pimlico: an exclusive street of white-painted stucco Georgian houses inhabited by the rich, and serviced by the not so rich. The hired help, a motley assortment of au pairs, drivers and cleaners, decide to form the St Zita Society (Zita was the patron saint of domestic servants) as an excuse to meet at the local pub and air their grievances.

When Dex is invited to attend one of these meetings, the others find that he is a strange man, seemingly ill at ease with human beings. These first impressions are compounded when they discover he has recently been released from a hospital for the criminally insane, where he was incarcerated for attempting to kill his own mother. Dex's most meaningful relationship seems to be with his mobile phone service provider, Peach, and he interprets the text notifications and messages he receives from the company as a reassuring sign that there is some kind of god who will protect him. And give him instructions about ridding the world of evil spirits...

Accidental death and pathological madness cohabit above and below stairs in Hexam Place.

Ruth Rendell: The Saint Zita Society. Her new Bestseller. Arrow, ISBN 9780099571032 (July, 2013), 337 p., £7.99.

 

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The St. Zita Society

Ruth Rendell: The St. Zita Society (USA 2012)

From the Publisher:
From three-time Edgar Award-winning mystery writer Ruth Rendell comes a captivating and expertly plotted tale of residents and servants on one block of a posh London street -- and the deadly ways their lives intertwine.

Life in the well-manicured London locale of Hexam Place is not as placid and orderly as it appears. Behind the tranquil gardens and polished entryways, relationships between servants and their employers are set to combust.

Henry, the handsome valet to Lord Studley, is sleeping with both the Lord's wife and his university-age daughter. Montserrate, the Still family's lazy au pair, is helping to hide Mrs. Still's illicit affair with a television actor -- for a small fee. June, the haughty housekeeper to a princess of dubious origin, is hard at work forming a "society" for servants to address complaints about their employers. Meanwhile, a disturbed gardener, Dex, believes a voice in his cellphone is giving him godlike instructions -- that could endanger the lives of all who reside in Hexam Place.

A deeply observed and suspenseful update to the upstairs/downstairs genre, The St. Zita Society is Ruth Rendall at her incisive best.

Ruth Rendell: The St. Zita Society. A Novel. Scribner's, ISBN 9781451666687 (August, 2012), 257 p., $26.00, eBook $11.66.

 

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The Saint Zita Society

Ruth Rendell: The Saint Zita Society (UK 2012)

From the Publisher:
'Someone had told Dex that the Queen lived in Victoria. So did he, but she had a palace and he had one room in a street off Warwick Way. Still he liked the idea that she was his neighbour.'

Dex works as a gardener for Dr Jefferson at his home on Hexam Place in Pimlico: an exclusive street of white-painted stucco Georgian houses inhabited by the rich, and serviced by the not so rich. The hired help, a motley assortment of au pairs, drivers and cleaners, decide to form the St Zita Society (Zita was the patron saint of domestic servants) as an excuse to meet at the local pub and air their grievances.

When Dex is invited to attend one of these meetings, the others find that he is a strange man, seemingly ill at ease with human beings. These first impressions are compounded when they discover he has recently been released from a hospital for the criminally insane, where he was incarcerated for attempting to kill his own mother. Dex's most meaningful relationship seems to be with his mobile phone service provider, Peach, and he interprets the text notifications and messages he receives from the company as a reassuring sign that there is some kind of god who will protect him. And give him instructions about ridding the world of evil spirits...

Accidental death and pathological madness cohabit above and below stairs in Hexam Place.

Ruth Rendell: The Saint Zita Society. Her new Bestseller. Hutchinson, ISBN 9780091944049 (July, 2012), 279 p., £18.99.

 

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