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Extended Audio Sample The St. Zita Society: A Novel Audiobook, 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: August 2012 ISBN: 9781442349810
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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 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 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 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 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sherry | 1/31/2014

    " Ruth Rendell is wicked and sly. I love it!! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Mary | 1/26/2014

    " Boring. Stopped after 50 pages "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tomi Larson | 1/24/2014

    " The first book, and I have read every one, by Ruth Rendall I didn't like... didn't finish it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kelly | 1/19/2014

    " Certainly Not my favorite. No suspense, virtually no movement. Yawn. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ramarie | 1/19/2014

    " Too many characters without any real significance to the very obvious plot. A disappointment. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Justine | 1/6/2014

    " Reliably engaging read with suitable twists and mix of characters. Just as I expect and enjoy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Renee Liepins | 1/2/2014

    " OK. But not all that interesting. Just time consuming. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Devonna Scherr | 12/19/2013

    " This book is sort of like Downtown Abbey with each character having their own story, most of which are tragic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kasey | 12/13/2013

    " Love Ruth Rendell so very much. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vickie | 12/1/2013

    " I often have four- or five-star reviews for Rendell's novels, but this one had a big glaring hole in its resolution that put me off. I won't spoil it for anyone who reads this, though. And, despite that one big plot hole, I still would recommend it. Rendell remains a master. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kelly Mezaros | 11/24/2013

    " What was this book? Really, it just seemed to be about servants in England with absolutely no story! I returned it to the library without finishing it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Crossfinn | 11/12/2013

    " This was a disappointment, though I can't say any Ruth Rendell book is a waste of time. I just didn't quite know what the point was. None of the characters were particularly well fleshed out or interesting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eva | 11/2/2013

    " A very typical Ruth Rendell. An outsider who doesn't understand people. A small community of characters whose lives intersect, and who are often not very nice. Human nature. Motivations. Misunderstandings, chance and plans that work, and don't. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike Gabor | 10/24/2013

    " I was really quite surprised to read the negative reviews on this book. I've not read a lot of her works but this book has been my favorite so far. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sandra Petree | 8/30/2013

    " Not her best, but certainly a good mystery! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Agnes | 7/30/2013

    " St. Zita is patron saint of servants, so this revolves around the workers in a block of houses in London. Interestingly told by Rendell, whom I have read much from before. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jo Ann Hall | 7/22/2013

    " While I love Rendell's writing, this peek into the criss-cross of lives, Upstairs-Downstairs-style, ends too abruptly with far too many loose ends for my taste. I understand that may be the writer's metaphor for "Life goes on," but it's unsatisfying here. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathy | 7/6/2013

    " Subtle little murder story. Really centered on the intersections of lives on one street and chance. Felt like it was moving slowly, but also seemed fairly well written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Catherine Cheney | 7/3/2013

    " Definitely not one of her best, . There were plenty of subplots, but no satisfying ending. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leigh | 7/1/2013

    " Aaaarggghh! The ending!! but I won't spoil it for you ;-) I love Rendell. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joanne | 5/24/2013

    " Good book, but the ending was lacking. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lynn Kearney | 4/3/2013

    " Not one of her best. I've thought for a while that she should pack it in, but she doesn't. If she keeps writing, I guess I'll keep reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Haines | 12/22/2012

    " Brilliant. You get what you deserve. Great characters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane | 12/16/2012

    " Liked it; Ruth Rendell has a cast of characters that you slowly begin to know and the story is interwoven. Great detail and quirky twists. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna | 11/14/2012

    " This book was such fun to read. It's filled with great characters (perhaps a few too many), and a real morality play. Not so much a who-dunnit as a "what will happen next". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian Williams | 8/14/2012

    " An entertaining read, especially once you get past the first 70 pages. At the beginning I thought I was reading an Alexander McCall Smith book, but once there was a death, it became more exciting. Plenty of compelling characters (maybe a few too many at the beginning). A satisfactory conclusion. "

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About the Author
Author Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell (1930–2015) wrote more than sixty novels in a career spanning fifty years. She won numerous awards for her writing, including three Edgars—the highest accolade from Mystery Writers of America—as well as four Gold Daggers and a Diamond Dagger for outstanding contribution to the genre from England’s prestigious Crime Writer’s Association. She was also the winner of the MWA Grand Master Award. A longtime member of the House of Lords, she lived in London.

About the Narrator

Carole Boyd’s theater work includes a year performing with Alan Ayckbourn’s Scarborough Company where she created the role of June in Way Upstream, while her television credits include Hetty Wainthropp Investigates and Mystery!: Campion. Boyd also plays the notorious Lynda Snell in The Archers, is a regular reader on BBC Radio 4’s Poetry Please, and has won three audiobook awards for her recordings.