Kissing the Gunner's Daughter is a who-done-it with lots of wonderful descriptions of pristine forest scenes. But the most compelling reason to put it in the blog is one of the characters who gets done-in - Davina Flory. With her first husband Davina bought a grand mansion near the remnant of an ancient forest. They proceeded to plant thousands of trees, adding to the ancient woodland and creating a place that is hauntingly wild, beautiful, mysterious and forbidding.
'Above the dense or feathery treetops, through spaces in the groves, the sky was a light delicate blue, so pale as to be almost white... The groves gave place to a plantation of Norway maples (Acer platanoices) with trunks like crocodile skin. No conifers were here, not a single pine or fir to provide a dark green shape among the shining leafless branches. This was the finest part of the deciduous woodland, man-made but a copy of nature, pristinely ordered but with nature's own neatness. Fallen logs had been left when they fell and were overgrown with bright fungus, frills and ruffs and knobbed stalks in yellow or bronze. Dead trees still stood, their rotting trunks weathered to silver, a habitation for owls or a feeding ground for woodpeckers.'
I have written about Ruth Rendell before. I love looking at images of plants and gardens and natural spaces. It seems to me that Rendell creates such images using words - makes word pictures - as vividly as any photograph or painting.
The marriage of Davina to her first husband was never consummated. 'The best years of her sexual life ... from twenty-three to thirty-three, wasted, lost ... The unused energy of those years she had put into the planting of those woods. It was interesting to speculate as to whether the woods would be here now if Flory had not been incapable with his wife.'