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Ruth Rendell

  • Ten thousand years of civilization shed in an instant when you put a woman behind the wheel of a car.

    • Ruth Rendell,
    • In Sickness and in Death
    • ()
  • In general Wexford disliked the clergy. To him the dog collar was like a slipped halo, indicating a false saintliness, probably hypocrisy and massive self-regard. As he saw it vicars were not vicarious enough. Most of them expected you to worship God in them.

  • She opened the door to them carefully, grudgingly, as if expecting to see gypsies or a brush salesman from a disreputable firm.

  • ... the English, although partakers in the most variable and quixotic climate in the world, never become used to its vagaries, but comment upon them with shock and resentment as if all their lives had been spent in the predictable monsoon.

  • Stanley never answered a doorbell naturally and innocently as other people do. He always debated whether it was wise to answer it at all.

  • The tragedy of growing old is not that one is old but that one is young.

  • ... they say you cannot make a noise to annoy yourself ...

  • It's living — a broad spectrum of living — that teaches you how to live, not philosophy. Philosophy teaches you how to think.

  • ... grief can sometimes only be expressed in platitudes. We are original in our happy moments. Sorrow has only one voice, one cry.

  • Many emotions go under the name of love, and almost any one of them will for a while divert the mind from the real, true, and perfect thing.

  • Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.

  • Nobody really lives in the present.

  • It is not so much true that all the world loves a lover as that a lover loves all the world.

  • There are only two periods in a woman's life when she hopes to be taken for older than she is, under sixteen and over ninety.

  • Maybe being married is talking to oneself with one's other self listening.

  • ... we dislike those we've injured.

  • Americans ... are a nation of salesmen just as the English are a nation of small shopkeepers.

  • 'You don't know what we want,' said Troth in that tone of cunning triumph a stupid man uses when he thinks he has got the better of an adversary.

  • The knives of jealousy are honed on details.

  • Mark wasn't interested in others and their affairs. His favourite word was 'I,' with 'me' a close second.

  • If life has taught me anything it's that while most of the things you've worried about have never happened, it's a different story with the things you haven't worried about. They are the ones that happen.

  • We no more forget the faces of our enemies than of those we love.

  • We don't say a man's ill if he's crazy about sex, if he can't get enough sex. Why should a woman be different?

  • To say Agatha [Christie]'s characters are cardboard cut-outs in an insult to cardboard.

    • Ruth Rendell,
    • in The Independent ()
  • The worst has happened ... it's rather liberating.

  • I can't exist without books.

  • It was the sort of voice you'd like to read you a story before you went to sleep.

  • ... if she didn't soon have a book in her hands, if she couldn't soon read a book, she'd die.

  • When one has children one has no privacy. They take it for granted that what is yours is theirs, personal things and the secrets of your heart, as well as possessions.

  • ... there must be a routine to life, a framework to hang life on. Routines were what kept you sane, gave you something to do at this moment and at that, definite places to go, positive things to do. Abandon it and that way madness lies.

  • The trouble with psychology is that it doesn't take human nature into account.

Ruth Rendell, English writer, politician

(1930 - 2015)

Full name: Ruth Barbara Grasemann Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE. She also writes as Barbara Vine.