Editorial: Ruth Rendell's two-syllable novel

Rendell has a new plot for the thousands of grown-up Britons who cannot read

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Ruth Rendell says she is writing a book for adults who are learning to read. Archie and Archie will have no words of more than two sound units. Each sentence will be simple. Each chapter will be short.

Good plan. There are seven thousand thousands of  grown-up Britons who cannot read. Even more struggle to get further than the headlines in the press. Any help is welcome.

Keeping things short has some constraints. Ms Rendell’s most renowned sleuth could not feature. Wexford’s job title would break the rules. But what is lost to spartan style can be made up for elsewhere. With a clever plot from one of Britain’s most expert crime writers, for instance.

Sometimes short words and plain grammar might even be better. After all, the Bard managed with “To be or not to be”. Or what about Dickens: It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. Or even (almost) Austen: It is a truth known to all that a single man with a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

So what starts with Archie and Archie might end up with Lizzy Bennet. And why not? Keep spreading the word, Ms Rendell.

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