Once again, Ruth Rendell writing as Vine (e.g., No Night Is Too Long, Harmony, 1995) weaves a compelling tale of ordinary people facing extraordinary pressures. Two women, divided by age and class, share their deepest secrets in an English nursing home in which one cares for the other. There is a sense of secrecy from the start, as Jenny Warner tells dying Stella Newland about her love affair and Stella shares with Jenny the location of her secret house. Secrecy gives way to foreboding, and tension builds as details are masterfully revealed. Vine is an extraordinary storyteller, able to enthrall a reader right from the start, as she does here. Additionally, she provides a satisfying symmetry in the construction of this book, with the two women's alternating voices and the inextricable linking of their lives, as Stella dies and Jenny is virtually reborn. This is a marvel-may Vine write many more. Highly recommended.-Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Va.