Ruth Rendell Tigerlily's Orchids

ISBN 13: 9780099550648

Tigerlily's Orchids

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9780099550648: Tigerlily's Orchids

WHEN STUART FONT DECIDES TO THROW A HOUSE-WARMING PARTY IN HIS NEW FLAT, HE INVITES ALL THE PEOPLE IN HIS BUILDING. AFTER SOME DELIBERATION, HE EVEN INCLUDES THE UNPLEASANT CARETAKER AND HIS WIFE. THERE ARE A FEW OTHER GENUINE FRIENDS ON THE LIST, BUT HE DEFINITELY DOES NOT WANT TO INCLUDE HIS GIRLFRIEND, CLAUDIA, AS THAT MIGHT INVOLVE ASKING HER HUSBAND. THE PARTY WILL BE ONE EVERYONE REMEMBERS. BUT NOT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS. ALL THE OCCUPANTS OF LICHFIELD HOUSE ARE ABOUT TO EXPERIENCE A DRAMATIC CHANGE IN THEIR LIVES¿ LIVING OPPOSITE, IN RECLUSIVE ISOLATION, IS A YOUNG, BEAUTIFUL ASIAN WOMAN, CHRISTENED TIGERLILY BY STUART. AS THOUGH FROM SOME STRANGE URBAN FAIRYTALE, SHE EMERGES TO EXERT A TERRIBLE SPELL. AND MR AND MRS FONT, THE WORRIED PARENTS, WILL HAVE EVEN MORE CAUSE FOR CONCERN ABOUT THEIR HANDSOME BUT HOPELESSLY NAIVE SON. DARKLY HUMOROUS, PIERCINGLY OBSERVANT OF HUMAN BEHAVIOUR, RUTH RENDELL HAS CREATED HERE ANOTHER COMPELLING FABLE OF OUR LIVES AND CRIMES.

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Review:

No doubt Tigerlily’s Orchids will start the customary Ruth Rendell debate. Rendell aficionados take great pleasure in debating which are her finest books -- the much-loved Inspector Wexford series or her disturbing stand-alone psychological crime novels. This latest book is firmly in the latter camp, and for those (such as this writer) who – on balance -- prefer Rendell moving out of police procedural territory, it's a real treat.

A housewarming party for a new flat is usually a pleasurable experience, but the one thrown by the unworldly Stuart Font is to have unwanted consequences. Stuart invites everyone in his building to the bash, even the caretaker and his wife – people, Stuart finds, it is hard to warm to. The party turns out to be a memorable one for everyone involved – but for all the wrong reasons. The eponymous ‘Tigerlliy’ is an attractive young Asian women who is one of Stuart’s nearest neighbours (he was the one who gave her the exotic sobriquet); she does not however, conform to the stereotypical image of the powerless, vulnerable Asian woman. Her influence over those around her is to prove dark and all-enveloping, and Stuart’s parents will have reason to be concerned -- very concerned – for their hapless son.

The cruel wit of the narrative here is firmly in the unsettling territory of Rendell’s best work, and the sardonic note (as well as the fey, not-quite-naturalistic elements) are characteristic of the author's more recent efforts – the years are not softening her view of life. As usual, it is the sharp, quirky observation of character that makes Tigerlily’s Orchids so distinctive. The eccentric quality may not be to everyone’s taste – and it’s perhaps not a book for new Ruth Rendell readers to start with (one has to assume there will always be some), but admirers can part with their money with equanimity. --Barry Forshaw

Review:

"The sins and self-deprecations of the inhabitants of a mansion block in north-west London are skewered with great skill in a novel that incorporates adultery, dipsomania, theft, paedophilia, drugs and, inevitably, murder. A clever whodunit most notable for its naked misanthropy." (Evening Standard)

"Ruth Rendell keeps up an amazingly high standard . . . utterly gripping" (A.N. Wilson)

"Once her characters start twisting on ever-tightening tracks, their fates are brilliantly sealed, and it's never obvious who'll be the victim or the culprit. Rendell's greatest trick is making an unforeseen outcome feel predestined." (Financial Times)

"Throroughly gripping . . . As always with Rendell, it's the exquisite human and social minutiae that count" (The Times)

"Ruth Rendell has few rivals as a chronicler of everyday life" (Sunday Times)

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