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The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Page history last edited by Susan G 13 years, 1 month ago

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Riverhead Books  9781594488801   $26.95

May 2009


Plot: In post-WWII England, country doctor Dr. Faraday is summoned to Hundreds Hall to tend to the Ayres's lone maid. The maid claims that there's something in the house that is making her unwell. A man of science, Dr. Farady dismisses the girl's superstitions and tells Roderick Ayres and his sister Caroline that the girl will be fine with a little rest. Farady becomes a regular guest at Hundreds Hall, and is asked by Caroline and her widowed mother to intervene when Roderick begins displaying signs of madness. Roderick is institutionalized and the Ayres women begin to depend on Dr. Farady even more. Faraday develops an attachment to Caroline and proposes, but she realizes that she does not truly love him. Strange sights and sounds continue to disturb the residents of the once-grand house, eventually destorying them. The book ends inconconclusively, leaving the reader to specualte if Hundreds Hall was truly haunted and, if so, by whom.


General thoughts: I didn't realize that the book was supposed to be a ghost story until, after reading 200 pages, I finally read the book jacket. Waters is such a lovely writer that it was easy to read the 475 page book even when I wasn't sure why I was doing it.


I had a very difficult time with this book - it's kind of a cross between Kazuo Ishiguro's "The Remains of the Day" and Dorothy Macardle's "The Univited," and yet leaves the reader unfulfilled on both counts.  I suppose that might make it an interesting book for a book discussion since both the love story and ghost story gives ample room for supposition. (SG)


3 words/phrases that describe this book: Atmospheric, Domestic, Gothic.


Gothic works very well to describe this book, but I'd also include:  Drama of Manners, Disturbing, Moody  (SG)


This book is similar to: Patrick McGrath, Joyce Carol Oates, Phyllis Whitney


Would I suggest/to whom: Readers who like post-war domestic fiction and/or ghost stories. (Not Stephen King ghost stories--Henry James ghost stories.)


I don't think a lover of ghost stories would be fulfilled by a book such as this - I'd be more likely to recommend it to readers who prefer post-war domestic fiction or character dramas in an historical setting.  (SG)


Would this be good for a book discussion? Only if the group generally reads and likes long, historical, gothic novels.


There is certainly enough open for discussion on this book, but it reads rather ploddingly so it might frustrate readers before they could get to the discussion - it might be more interesting to include a book like this in an ongoing discussion rather than one final one after they have finished the book.  (SG)

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