The Saint Zita Society



Saint Zita is the patron saint of maids and domestic servants. Main characters of this book are servants living with their masters in Hexam Place, a posh London street. They take care of their masters, their children, cars, gardens, cleaning their houses and meeting in a local pub in their spare time. 

I didn't care much for any of the characters, which doesn't mean they are badly developed. Far from it. A week after finishing a novel I still think about them. Maybe there's a concept of a servant I can't fathom, since I most certainly wouldn't make a good servant if I try to put myself in this role. There's Montserrat, a lazy au pair. Her sole job is to admit Mrs Still's lover into the house and let him out again. Later, when "the accident happens" she presses Mr Still into hiding the body against his will. There's something callous about her I just didn't like. Rabia takes care of Still's children. She's a strict Muslim, a widow without a husband to tell her what to do, as she puts it herself. She lost two children of her own and developed an attachment to her employer's little son. Her father wants her to marry again but she isn't sure about it. Henry is having an affair both with his master's wife and his daughter and is later "forced" into marrying the daughter when she gets pregnant. Lord Studley, her father is of an opinion that his daughter is not going to be "one of those single mothers", after all, he is a Conservative.  Thea keeps repeating that she is no servant, yet keeps doing odd jobs for her landlords. I found her least likable, largely due to her inability to say no. And there's Dex, part of the group but hovering on its brink at the same time. He's got a god living in his mobile and sees evil spirits. There are many more of them I just couldn't connect to. Beacon, a driver with high religious and moral standards, who's willing to quit his job because of his mistress' immoral conduct. Or a Habsburg princess who in fact isn't a Habsburg, but who cares, everybody loves a princess.

I used to be a big fan of Ruth Rendell, I still am I just haven't read her books in quite some time. I returned to her with Portobello and most recently with Saint Zita Society. I love her elegant prose and how things fall in their places at the end. However, this book left me with something missing. There are too many loose ends. For example we never learn of Henry's other lover, his employers wife reaction to her daughter and her lover marrying. I can imagine her reaction all right, but in the book she is silenced, as if everything was all right. Rabia doesn't want to get married again but she eventually does so. Or does she? I don't mind the crimes remaining unsolved, after all it's not a Wexford novel. However I would like to see people responsible punished, not necessarily by law but in a sense of justice being done. Like everything falling into place and the life goes on. This eventually happens at Hexam Place, Saint Zita Society is dissolved and life goes back to the way it was. Or so it seems to the last page, the ending which I found too violent, I didn't expect it. After I read the final words I kept asking myself what happened next. I missed a closure.

*

Sv. Cita je zaščitnica služabnikov in dekel. Glavni liki knjige so ravno služabniki, ki skupaj s svojimi gospodarji živijo v nobel londonski ulici. Skrbijo za svoje gospodarje, njihove otroke, avtomobile, vrtove, čistijo njihove hiše, v prostem času pa se srečujejo v lokalnem pubu.

Ne morem reči, da mi je bil kdor koli izmed njih pretirano všeč. Saj ni treba, da bi mi bil pa vendar. To ne pomeni, da so osebe nedodelane ali dvodimenzionalne. Sploh ne. Ruth Rendell vedno dobro razvije značaje, ki jih opisuje. Tudi potem, ko sem knjigo že prebrala, sem tu in tam pomislila nanje. Mislim, da mi je bolj kot kaj drugega nerazumljiv koncept služabnika, saj bi si samo sebe zelo težko predstavljala v taki vlogi.

Montserrat je lena au pair, njena edina naloga je, da v hiš sprejme gospodaričinega ljubimca in ga potem spusti ven, da nihče ne vidi. Ko se "zgodi nesreča" prisili gospodarja, da skrijeta truplo. Nekaj surovega, neobčutljivega je na njej, ki mi ni bilo niti najmanj všeč. Rabia je varuška v istem gospodinjstvu. Je muslimanka, vdova brez moža, ki bi ji povedal kaj naj naredi, kot sama pravi. Njen oče bi rad videl, da bi se ponovno poročila, vendar sama ni povsem prepričana. Navezana je na malega sina svojih gospodarjev in si ne more predstavljati, da bi ga zapustila. V sosednji hiši Henry ljubimka tako z gospodarjevo ženo kot hčerko. Ko hčerka zanosi, ga "prisilijo" v poroko, saj kot lord Studley pravi, njegova hčer ne bo ena od tistih mater samohranilk, on je navsezadnje konservativec. Thea nenehno ponavlja, da ni služabnica, kljub temu pa opravlja priložnostna dela za svoja dva najemodajalca. Ona mi je bila še najmanj všeč, predvsem zaradi njene nesposobnosti reči ne. Tu je tudi Dex, eden od njih, obenem pa nekako lebdi ob robu. V njegovem mobilnem telefonu živi bog, sam pa videva zlobne duhove. Še veliko več likov je, ki jih nisem začutila. Na primer Beacon, voznik z visokimi verskimi in moralnimi standardi, ki je pripravljen dati odpoved zaradi gospodaričinega nemoralnega ravnanja. Ali Habsburška princesa, ki v resnici sploh ni Habsburška, ampak koga briga, ljudje imajo radi princese.

Nekoč sem požirala knjige Ruth Rendell, dokler nisem prebrala vseh, ki sem jih našla v knjižnici. Potem je nastopila doba elektronskih knjig in "neslutenih možnosti tehnologije". Tako sem po dolgem premoru prebrala Portobello in sedaj Društvo Svete Cite, če lahko naslov tako prevedem. Še vedno mi je všeč njena elegantna proza in sposobnost postaviti stvari na svoje mesto. Kljub temu se mi je pri tej knjigi zdelo, da nekaj manjka. Preveč nedokončanih zgodb je ostalo. Nikoli na primer ne izvemo za reakcijo Henryjeve druge ljubimke, ko se je moral poročiti z njeno hčerko. Ok, lahko si prestavljam njeno reakcijo, a je v knjigi utišana, kot da bi bilo vse v redu. Rabia se noče poročiti, nenehno izraža dvom glede tega, vendar se na koncu vendarle premisli. Pa še tega ne morem z gotovostjo trditi. Ne moti me, da zločin ni razrešen, rada bi pa videla, da bi bili krivci kaznovani. Ne nujno v policijskem postopku, ampak tako, da je pravičnosti zadoščeno, da vse pride na svoje mesto in gre življenje dalje. To se sicer do neke mere zgodi, društvo Sv. Cite je razpuščeno, življenje pa se vrne v ustaljene tirnice. Tako se vsej zdi, dokler nisem prebrala zadnje strani. Konec je bil ... ne vem ... preveč nasilen, nisem ga pričakovala. Potem, ko sem prebrala zadnjih nekaj stavkov sem se začela spraševati kaj zdaj. Pogrešala sem zaključek, ki bi dogajanje v knjigi zaokrožil. 


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