I discovered Rendell’s work when I was browsing The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time. Many of her works are included on the list that I came to the realization of maybe she’s that good. Since then, I became a fan of Mrs. Rendell after reading this particular title.
The story is about a wealthy family (wealthy in the sense that they’re all educated) who hires a Eunice Parchman, to serve as their housekeeper. There isn’t much problem about her at first for the family starts to like their new house-proud helper as the days passed. They even encourage her to take a day off from work since she does nothing but clean. Until they start to notice something different. Eunice’s secret that will drive her to kill the concerned family. The first sentences of the novel are so revealing that you wonder what would happen in the next couple of pages. I don’t want to spoil some interested reader but the story is about the effects of something important in our lives that if one’s deprived of, will make living a difficult journey. And particularly for Eunice, to resort to something drastic thus the meaning behind the title.
Rendell is known not for whodunits but for her whydunnits. With the presence of murder, there’s always a reason. But there was more to it than that. Everybody has reasons especially when one is compelled to do something unimaginable. The novel is adapted twice for screen with English (The Housekeeper) and a French adaptation (La Cérémonie). I’ve watched both films and in my opinion, the French’s one better as Mrs. Rendell also liked it. I suggest you read the book first before watching the movie, not only because it’s the original, but it’s also complete.