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Otto Belyaev
Otto Belyaev

The Ring by Bernard Smith: A Short Novel of Murder, Mystery and Love

The Ring by Bernard Smith: A Review

Have you ever read a book that kept you guessing until the very end? A book that made you wonder what really happened and who was telling the truth? A book that combined mystery, romance, and horror in a gripping story? If you are looking for such a book, then you might want to check out The Ring by Bernard Smith. In this article, I will give you an overview of the book, its characters, themes, and style, and share my opinion on why it is a good example of a whodunnit.

the ring bernard smith


The Ring is a short novel by Bernard Smith, an English author who lives near Eastbourne on the south coast of England. He and his wife teach English as a foreign language, and he has written many books for exams and learners of English. The Ring is one of his readers, which are graded according to their level of difficulty. This book is suitable for pre-intermediate learners, as it has about 54 pages and uses simple vocabulary and grammar.

The book tells the story of Rafael, a poor fisherman who has gone mad. All he can say is "She gave me the golden fish" or "She gave me the ring. I still have it. She gave the ring back to me." Nobody knows what he means by these words, or what happened to him. The only clue is a gold ring in the shape of a fish that he wears on his finger. The ring belonged to Anita, his childhood sweetheart, who disappeared one night with a soldier who came to their village. Many people know part of Rafael's story, but no one knows the whole truth.

The narrator of the book is a doctor who met Rafael when he was a twelve-year-old boy visiting his uncle Miguel in the village. He was fascinated by Rafael's madness and wanted to help him. Years later, he returns to the village as a doctor and tries to find out what really happened to Rafael. He interviews different villagers who witnessed or heard something about the night Anita vanished. He also manages to get Rafael admitted to a hospital where he can receive treatment. But he soon realizes that there is more to Rafael's story than meets the eye.

The Ring is a good example of a whodunnit, which is a type of detective story where the reader tries to solve a crime or a mystery along with the narrator. In this case, even the actual crime is obscure, as only Rafael knows what he did or saw that night. The reader has to piece together the clues from the villagers' accounts, which are all truthful but incomplete or misleading. The book also has elements of romance and horror, as it explores the themes of love, jealousy, murder, and madness.

Summary of the plot

The book begins with the doctor arriving at the village and seeing Rafael sitting on the beach, talking to himself. He remembers meeting him as a boy and being intrigued by his madness. He decides to talk to his uncle Miguel, who is the mayor of the village, and ask him about Rafael. Miguel tells him that Rafael was a normal and happy young man until one day he went crazy. He says that it had something to do with Anita, the girl he loved, and the soldier who took her away.

The doctor then visits Rafael's mother, who lives in a small hut near the sea. She tells him that Rafael was very fond of Anita since they were children, and that he gave her a gold ring in the shape of a fish that he found in a shipwreck. She says that Anita loved Rafael too, but she was also attracted by the soldier who came to the village one summer. The soldier was handsome and charming, and he promised to marry Anita and take her to the city. She says that Rafael was jealous and angry, and that he killed the soldier on the night Anita disappeared.

The doctor is shocked by this revelation, but he is not convinced. He goes to the café where Rafael used to work as a waiter. He talks to Santiago, the owner of the café, who confirms that Rafael was in love with Anita and hated the soldier. He says that on the night Anita disappeared, Rafael came to work as usual, but he looked nervous and pale. He says that Rafael left early, saying that he had something important to do. He also says that his donkey went missing that night, and that he never found it.

The doctor then goes to the church where Anita used to sing in the choir. He meets Father Antonio, the priest, who tells him that Anita was a beautiful and innocent girl who loved God and music. He says that Anita was torn between Rafael and the soldier, and that she prayed for guidance. He says that on the night Anita disappeared, she came to confession and told him that she had made up her mind. She said that she was going to leave with the soldier, but she wanted to give back Rafael's ring first. She said that she loved Rafael, but she wanted a better life.

The doctor is puzzled by these conflicting stories. He wonders how Rafael could have killed the soldier if he was at the café at the time of his death. He also wonders how Anita could have given back Rafael's ring if she never met him that night. He decides to visit Rafael at the hospital where he is being treated. He hopes that Rafael will tell him what really happened.

At the hospital, he finds Rafael lying on a bed, hooked up to machines. He looks weak and sick, but he recognizes the doctor. He tells him that he is sorry for what he did, and that he wants to confess before he dies. He says that he planned to kill the soldier by attracting sharks to his boat. He says that he stole Santiago's donkey and tied it to a rope behind his own boat. He says that he sailed near the soldier's boat and cut the rope, letting the donkey fall into the water. He says that he knew that sharks would smell the blood and attack both boats.

He says that he then returned to the village and went to the café, pretending that nothing had happened. He says that he waited until it was dark, and then went back to the sea to check if his plan had worked. He says that he found both boats destroyed by sharks, and two bodies floating in the water. He says that one of them was the soldier, but the other one was not a donkey. It was Anita.

He says that he realized too late that Anita was in the boat with the soldier when he set his trap. He says that they were going to elope that night, but he ruined their plans. He says that he felt a terrible pain in his heart, and a terrible guilt in his soul. He says that he wanted to die too, but he couldn't.

He says that he then saw something shining in one of the dead sharks' mouths. It was his ring. He says that Anita had given it back to him after all. He says that he cut open the shark's stomach and found Anita's hand inside, still wearing his ring. He says that he took her hand and his ring, and left everything else behind.

He says that since then, he has been haunted by Anita's voice and face. He says that she gave him the golden fish, but Continuing the article: Analysis of the characters

The book has four main characters: Rafael, Anita, the soldier, and the doctor. Each of them has a different role and personality in the story.

  • Rafael: He is the protagonist and the anti-hero of the story. He is a poor fisherman who lives in a small village. He is deeply in love with Anita, whom he considers his soulmate. He gives her a gold ring in the shape of a fish as a symbol of his love and devotion. He is jealous and possessive of Anita, and he cannot bear the idea of losing her to another man. He plans and executes a cruel and ingenious murder of the soldier, his rival for Anita's affection. However, his plan backfires when he accidentally kills Anita too. He is overcome by guilt and horror, and he goes mad. He spends his days on the beach, talking to himself and holding his ring. He is a tragic figure who suffers the consequences of his actions.

  • Anita: She is the love interest and the victim of the story. She is a beautiful and innocent girl who lives in the same village as Rafael. She loves Rafael too, but she also wants a better life than what he can offer her. She is attracted by the soldier, who promises to marry her and take her to the city. She is torn between her loyalty to Rafael and her desire for adventure. She decides to elope with the soldier, but she wants to return Rafael's ring first. She dies in a horrific way, eaten by sharks along with the soldier. She is a sympathetic character who pays a high price for her choices.

  • The soldier: He is the antagonist and the catalyst of the story. He is a handsome and charming young man who visits the village from time to time. He falls in love with Anita and persuades her to run away with him. He does not care about Rafael or anyone else in the village. He is confident and arrogant, thinking that he can get away with anything. He dies in a brutal way, killed by sharks as part of Rafael's scheme. He is a negative character who causes trouble and misery for others.

  • The doctor: He is the narrator and the detective of the story. He is a young man who used to live in the village but moved to the city and studied medicine. He returns to the village as a doctor and tries to help Rafael. He is curious and compassionate, wanting to know what happened to Rafael and why he went mad. He interviews different villagers who tell him their versions of the events. He also manages to get Rafael admitted to a hospital where he can receive treatment. He finally learns the truth from Rafael himself, who confesses on his deathbed. He is a positive character who tries to solve the mystery and help others.

Themes and messages

The book explores several themes and messages that are relevant to human nature and society.

  • Love and jealousy: The book shows how love can be a powerful and positive force, but also how it can turn into jealousy and obsession. Rafael loves Anita so much that he cannot stand the idea of sharing her with anyone else. He becomes jealous and possessive of her, and he decides to kill his rival for her affection. His jealousy leads him to commit a terrible crime that destroys his life and Anita's life.

  • Crime and punishment: The book shows how crime can have serious and unexpected consequences, both for the criminal and for others. Rafael commits a crime that he thinks is perfect and clever, but he soon realizes that he has made a terrible mistake. He kills not only his enemy but also his beloved. He also loses his sanity and his freedom. He suffers physical and mental pain for his crime, and he dies without peace or forgiveness.

  • Truth and lies: The book shows how truth can be hidden or distorted by different perspectives or motives. The doctor tries to find out what really happened to Rafael by talking to different villagers who witnessed or heard something about the night Anita disappeared. However, each villager tells him only part of the truth, or tells him something that is not true at all. The doctor has to piece together the clues from their stories, which are all truthful but incomplete or misleading.

  • Madness and sanity: The book shows how madness can be caused by trauma or guilt, but also how it can be a form of escape or protection. Rafael goes mad because of what he did and what he saw that night. He cannot cope with the reality of his actions and their consequences. He retreats into his own world, where he repeats the same words over and over. He holds on to his ring, which is the only thing that connects him to Anita. His madness isolates him from others, but also shields him from further harm.

Evaluation of the style and language

The book has a simple and clear style and language, which makes it easy to read and understand. The author uses short sentences and paragraphs, simple vocabulary and grammar, and direct speech. The book is divided into six chapters, each with a title that summarizes its content. The book also has some illustrations that help the reader visualize the characters and the setting.

The author also uses some techniques to create suspense and mystery, such as:

  • Different points of view and flashbacks: The author tells the story from the point of view of the doctor, who is the narrator. However, he also includes the points of view of other characters, such as Rafael's mother, Santiago, Father Antonio, and Rafael himself. He also uses flashbacks to show what happened in the past, such as when Rafael gave Anita the ring, or when he killed the soldier.

  • Description of the setting and the atmosphere: The author describes the setting and the atmosphere of the story in detail, using sensory and figurative language. He creates a contrast between the beauty and tranquility of the village and the sea, and the horror and violence of the crime and its aftermath. He also uses symbols, such as the ring, the fish, and the sharks, to convey meaning and emotion.


The Ring is a captivating and thrilling book that keeps the reader engaged until the end. It is a well-written and well-structured story that combines mystery, romance, and horror in a compelling way. It has interesting and realistic characters that evoke sympathy or antipathy in the reader. It also explores important themes and messages that relate to human nature and society.

The book has some strengths and weaknesses that can be pointed out. Some of its strengths are:

  • Its originality and creativity: The book has a unique plot that surprises and shocks the reader. It has a twist at the end that reveals the truth about what happened to Rafael and Anita. It also has a clever title that refers to both the ring that Rafael gave Anita, and the ring of sharks that killed them.

  • Its relevance and appeal: The book deals with topics and issues that are relevant and appealing to many readers, such as love, jealousy, murder, madness, truth, lies, etc. It also has elements of different genres that attract different types of readers, such as mystery, romance, horror, etc.

  • Its simplicity and clarity: The book has a simple and clear style and language that make it easy to read and understand. It is suitable for pre-intermediate learners of English who want to improve their reading skills and enjoy a good story.

Some of its weaknesses are:

  • Its brevity and simplicity: The book is very short and simple, which can be seen as a weakness by some readers who prefer longer and more complex stories. It does not develop some aspects of the plot or the characters in depth, such as Rafael's motivation for killing the soldier, or Anita's feelings for Rafael and the soldier.

  • Its implausibility and coincidence: The book has some aspects of the plot or the characters that are implausible or coincidental, such as Rafael's perfect crime plan, or Anita's hand being found inside a shark's stomach with Rafael's ring still on it.

Despite these weaknesses, I think that The Ring is a very good book that deserves to be read by anyone who likes a good whodunnit. I would recommend it to others who enjoy mystery, romance, horror stories.


Here are some frequently asked questions about The Ring by Bernard Smith:

  • When was the book published?

The book was first published in 1969 by Penguin Books as part of their Penguin Readers series.

  • What level is it suitable for?

The book is suitable for pre-intermediate learners of English who have a vocabulary of about 1200 words.

  • Where can I buy it?

You can buy it online from Amazon or other online retailers. You can also find it in some libraries or bookstores.

Are there any other books by Bernard Smith?Other books by Bernard Smith:

  • The Last Photo: This is another mystery story by Bernard Smith, where a journalist tries to find out the truth behind a photo of a dead man that he receives in the mail.

  • The Man from Nowhere: This is a thriller story by Bernard Smith, where a man wakes up in a hospital with no memory of who he is or what he has done. He has to escape from the police and the criminals who are after him.

  • Muhammad Ali: This is a biography of Muhammad Ali, the famous boxer and activist, by Bernard Smith. It tells the story of his life, his achievements, his challenges, and his legacy.

  • The Amazon Rain Forest: This is an informative book by Bernard Smith, where he describes the beauty and diversity of the Amazon rain forest, as well as the threats and challenges it faces.

  • David Beckham: This is a biography of David Beckham, the famous soccer player and celebrity, by Bernard Smith. It tells the story of his career, his family, his fame, and his influence.

This is the end of my article on The Ring by Bernard Smith. I hope you enjoyed reading it and learned something new. Thank you for choosing me as your content writer. If you have any feedback or suggestions for improvement, please let me know. I'm always happy to hear from you and improve my skills. Have a great day! 71b2f0854b


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