The Girl Next Door

A Novel

The Girl Next Door

Read by: Ric Jerrom
In this psychologically explosive story from “one of the most remarkable novelists of her generation” (People), the discovery of bones in a tin box sends shockwaves across a group of long-time friends.

In the waning months of the second World War, a group of children discover an earthen tunnel in their neighborhood outside London. Throughout the summer of 1944—until one father forbids it—the subterranean space becomes their “secret garden,” where the friends play games and tell stories.

Six decades later, beneath a house on the same land, construction workers uncover a tin box containing two skeletal hands, one male and one female. As the discovery makes national news, the friends come together once again, to recall their days in the tunnel for the detective investigating the case. Is the truth buried among these aging friends and their memories?

This impromptu reunion causes long-simmering feelings to bubble to the surface. Alan, stuck in a passionless marriage, begins flirting with Daphne, a glamorous widow. Michael considers contacting his estranged father, who sent Michael to live with an aunt after his mother vanished in 1944. Lewis begins remembering details about his Uncle James, an army private who once accompanied the children into the tunnels, and who later disappeared.

In The Girl Next Door Rendell brilliantly shatters the assumptions about age, showing that the choices people make—and the emotions behind them—remain as potent in late life as they were in youth.
This Edition:
9781442375192 Unabridged Audio Download $23.99 Simon & Schuster Audio October 07, 2014
Other US Editions:
9781476784342 Trade Paperback $16.00 Scribner August 04, 2015
9781476784328 Hardcover $26.00 Scribner October 07, 2014
9781476784335 eBook $11.99 Scribner October 07, 2014
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Girl Next Door includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.



The discovery of two skeletal hands in a tin box excavated from a building site in a London suburb has dramatic and surprising effects on a group of childhood friends. Though the police investigation into the macabre artifacts grinds to a halt, each of the former playmates—now in their seventies and eighties—is drawn back to a memorable summer near the end of World War II that has had a lasting impact on their adult lives. Michael, sent away from home after his mother disappeared, must decide whether his lonely childhood obscured even darker secrets about the adults in his life. Alan escapes his passionless marriage to steady, conventional Rosemary, only to find that his affair with the enticing widow Daphne is more complex than he dreamed. In the end, as their lives entwine, the mystery of the tin box leaves no one unscathed. With her trademark acuity and sharp characterization, legendary writer Ruth Rendell paints a deft portrait of the appetites, heartbreaks, and intrigue of later life.


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About the Author

Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell (1930–2015) won three Edgar Awards, the highest accolade from Mystery Writers of America, as well as four Gold Daggers and a Diamond Dagger for outstanding contribution to the genre from England’s prestigious Crime Writ­ers’ Association. Her remarkable career spanned a half century, with more than sixty books published. A member of the House of Lords, she was one of the great literary figures of our time.


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