Reviews for A Judgement in Stone, by Ruth Rendell
liezjo's review against another edition
I usually don’t like voice over type books, but this one was kind of fun.
jdgcreates's review against another edition
(3.5) It's hard to say that I really liked this when the characters were pretty wretched people all around, whether out of malice or ignorance or arrogance. This did go quickly though and it should be commended that Rendell made me want to keep reading a mystery that she gave us the information about in the very beginning. It was a good story, though sad, and showed the power that shame about disabilities (in this case, illiteracy) have on a person's life and mind.
vickie's review against another edition
Comments in <20 words: Absorbing social and character study ironically delivered in printed text, compulsively read in one day.
ericwelch's review against another edition
Jacqueline and George are each in their second marriages; his first wife died, her husband deserted her. They are both very happy, and George, wealthy owner of a factory, has purchased a huge Victorian home that is just too large for Jacqueline to manage. Most of the children have left home except for Giles, Jacqueline’s son by her first marriage, a brilliant troubled eccentric, brilliant who hates living in the country, and Melinda, George’s youngest daughter, whom Giles has an incestuous passion for, envisioning her as the wasted tubercular love of his life. In order to lighten Jacqueline’s workload, George decides to hire a housekeeper, and Jacqueline is delighted to discover Eunice Parchman, who even addresses her as “madam.” Eunice, who fudges her references, turns out to be the ideal housekeeper with one exception: she cannot read, and it is this little detail that leads her to eventually kill the entire family. Not that they didn’t try to make her happy. Eunice had her own bedroom and the old telly, and a well-sprung bed; after all, they wanted her to be content and to stay. But they never considered her as a person. They knew nothing of her background, never asked, and if they had, they probably would not have believed it. That she could have attended school without having become literate and learned to love opera. Heavens! Ironically, it’s Melinda’s attempt to learn the truth that initiates the catastrophe.
whatmeworry's review against another edition
This is an effective but slightly weird book. It reads more like a true crime account than a novel. The end is revealed from the start and whilst the journey to get to it is interesting, it does lack some tension.
The study of characters is great though, all the people in the book feel utterly real and the interplay between them is fascinating. It makes for an interesting take on class in the UK and adds to the richness of the novel.
sistermagpie's review against another edition
Since I liked the last RR book I read so much I went for another one--liked it very much as well! Again, this isn't a classic mystery who-dunnit. In fact, we're told who dunnit in the very first sentence and why. The story is more about watching the slow-motion train collision that is the relationship between Eunice, an illiterate, unfeeling cleaning woman and her bright, sophisticated, hyper-educated middle class employers. The kind of people who pin up quotes of the day, study Greek as teenagers for fun and take notes while watching opera because they know the score by heart. Add to this mix another perverse criminal, this one unfortunately converted to a Christian sect, and things were never going to end well.
The story, of course, is in the different personalities and how they all fit together--or don't.
This was really fun book - you know from the very beginning what the crime is and who committed it. The book tells how it all came about, but not from the perspective of an investigator, just an anonymous third-person narrator. I enjoyed this quite a bit, as I never really manage to figure out the central mystery anyway.
This was an interesting story, unusually done. From the first chapter, the outcome is revealed. We know who committed the murders and why. We just don't know what actually triggered the murders. And as a result, Rendell actually keeps one glued to the pages. This book was suspenseful and believable.
The characters she created in here were also quite impressive. I found myself even caring for the murderer occasionally - which says quite a lot. OK, perhaps 'caring for her' is a bit of a stretch. I did sympathise with her though. There were also times when I found the victims a bit annoying - but then, was I seeing them through the eyes of the murderer?
A decent read. Not perhaps one on the top of my recommendation pile, but for a book I got at a super reasonable price, it kept me occupied for a few hours.
I read this in January but am reviewing in August, so this should be fun.
A family is murdered in their home by their illiterate housekeeper, after one of the family members, Melinda (?) discovers her dark secret. Melinda is generally a good egg and becomes curious about their seemingly perfect-in-a-robotic-slash-sociopathic-way housekeeper, Eunice, with that awkward, condescending, of-the-people attitude that rich people adopt once they read about socialism and stuff. In Melinda's misguided attempt to learn more about Eunice, Melinda learns Eunice's monstrous secret - she cannot read! Eunice is sensitive about this issue, which is understandable, I suppose, but instead of doing something normal like quitting her job in a haze of embarrassment, or just fessing up and asking Melinda to help her learn to read, she kills everyone in the house instead. There was some other random woman involved who helped her murder everyone but I can't remember the details - did she turn on her and kill her, too?
Ruth Rendell is well-regarded as one of the best English mystery novelists, but this is the third book I've read by her and I find her very blah. Perhaps I am not deep / smart enough to understand all the psychological underpinnings and the examinations into the human psyche or whatever, but when reading her, I find myself sighing and wishing people would just Get Over It. This may mean I am failing as a human being, but I had no sympathy for Eunice and her predicament. However, I did learn an important lesson: Never befriend poor people because they will just murder you and your entire family.
I recently re-watched the French film La Ceremonie (after first seeing it 21 years ago). I hadn't realized it was based on this Ruth Rendell book. Maybe because the film was so fresh in my mind, and because I liked it so much, this book felt a bit bland. It gives away the ending immediately, which is fine for a novel, whereas in the film it was a shock. And it's hard to erase the performances of Sandrine Bonnaire and Isabelle Huppert from my mind when reading the book. Aside from that, the book does provide a good character study of two deeply disturbed women and the class differences that escalate the tragedy. Overall, it's well-written but not as compelling as I'd hoped.