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The Brimstone Wedding    by Barbara Vine order for
Brimstone Wedding
by Barbara Vine
Order:  USA  Can
Signet, 1997
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The Brimstone Wedding is an older book, but written by a master (Ruth Rendell aka Barbara Vine), whose writing never goes out of date. Genevieve Warner, a caregiver at an older person's facility in England, has formed an attachment to Stella Newland, unfortunately dying of lung cancer. The story revolves around life at the facility and in the small village where Genevieve lives. Genevieve is having an adulterous affair and hesitates to tell Stella about it. She is such a prim and proper lady that it might shock her. But Stella has secrets of her own, which she slowly divulges to Genevieve.

This novel can be used as a checklist for how to - or not to, your choice - conduct an illicit affair. How to live your days hiding a secret that would be hurtful to other people. How to quell your passion in the intervals between meetings with that new person in your life. How not to ask yourself questions about the rightness of your actions. And how to exist once things go wrong, as they surely will.

Rendell is a powerful storyteller and had me turning pages to see where the plot was taking strong and well defined characters who could be your next door neighbors. There is Lena, the manager of the facility, who unabashedly makes up to dying tenants in the hope of appearing in their wills. Or take Mike, Genevieve's husband, who can't see beyond his next home improvement project. Then there is ex-movie star Gilda, who tends to throw childlike tantrums when thwarted, and Alan who might be too good to be true. A good read - Ruth Rendell never disappoints.

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