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Extended Audio Sample The St. Zita Society: A Novel, by Ruth Rendell Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (695 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ruth Rendell Narrator: Carol Boyd, Carole Boyd Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A modern, murderous take on the relationship between master and servant in modern England.”

    New York Post

  • The St. Zita Society is both a sex comedy and a social satire, of the Upstairs Downstairs variety, with a few murders mixed in for our added delight.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “Rendell’s work is too great, too thought-provoking and too important to be pigeonholed. The only mystery is why everyone doesn't know it.” 

    Los Angeles Times

  • “The St. Zita Society takes up residence in a picturesque London street and ever so slowly and delicately eviscerates the pretentious upper-middle-class residents…as often happens in Rendell’s novels of psychological suspense, characters are undone by their own obsessions. But these meltdowns are executed with such stealth and subtlety that the psychic cracks aren’t visible—until suddenly they are.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Written with Rendell’s customary grace and precision…[The St. Zita Society] will reward those who crave deep character studies and thought-provoking questions of guilt and innocence.”

    Washington Independent Review of Books

  • “A trip down a road so twisted that only a guide as skillful as Rendell could navigate it without a false step.”

    Denver Post

  • “Rendell excels at detailing misunderstandings, paranoia, subtle power-shifts and the laws of unintended consequences. All the characters are kept in play without ever relinquishing the necessary suspense for a fascinating murder mystery.”

    The Guardian (London)

  • A 2012 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Charla | 2/18/2014

    " For the first few chapters of the book I kept checking the jacket to make sure this was a mystery because it read like a kind of "Upstairs, Downstairs" type book. Once the actual crime was committed it was interesting for a bit and then started wandering off again. There were way too many characters for the story, none of them were really developed enough and some could have been done away with completely to make the plot easier to follow. The plot did not flow well, there were all these side things happening that distracted from the main focus of the story (the crime). It was a jumbled mess, I thought. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Cyndy | 2/13/2014

    " I have been reading this author for over 20 years. Mostly out of habit lately. I used to think she had this incredible way of weaving a story with characters that were so interesting. But lately she's been throwing in a little political rhetoric in her books (she is a liberal member of parliament) and it's predictable and boring. She seems very contemptuous of white, conservative British citizens, portraying them as either snobbish or incredibly stupid. Her characters that are of an ethnic variety (Muslim, Pakistani, etc.) are always kinder, have higher moral standards and are just basically smarter than your average white British citizen. I just find it hard to believe that EVERYONE in Britain is a raving idiot unless you've immigrated from another culture. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Deb | 2/8/2014

    " it took forever for me to get the characters straight but finally, it was an unorthodox mystery wrapped in tight prose. Most satisfying. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Catherine Woodman | 2/6/2014

    " This is less of a who-done-it and more of a Peyton Place, let's get to know everyone on the block kind of story--I like the later, but not so much in this case--Rendell is a good quthor, so the story is well told, but not much of a murder mystery. "

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