Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Little Stranger; Sarah Waters

Title: The Little Stranger
Author: Sarah Waters
Publication Year: 2009
Publisher: Riverhead
Edition: eBook/Kindle
Source: Purchase
Date Completed: 4/4/2011
Setting: England
Rating: 4/5 stars
Recommend: yes

A crumbling old manor house in a small Warwickshire, England town is the setting for creepy, atmospheric story, which takes place just after World War II. The story is narrated by Doctor Faraday, who was familiar with the once grand, Hundred's Hall from his childhood days.  Now the Ayre family fortune has vanished, the family has been selling off parcels of land, and Hundreds Hall has fallen into a state of disrepair. The place is still inhabited by the elderly Mrs. Ayre, her son Roderick, a twenty-something, who was wounded during the war, and Caroline an older, plain-Jane, still unmarried, daughter. Once the place bustled with servants, which even included Doctor Faraday's own mother. Now Betty, a young girl in her teens, is the only servant that remains.

Doctor Faraday is called to Hundred's Hall to tend to Betty, the servant who is sick with some type of stomach ailment. It appears that she might just be homesick, but something is certainly upsetting her. Soon after he returns to the house and begins treating Roderick, from the physical and psychological aftereffects of war, using some sort of electrical therapy. Before long his return visits to the old manor are more frequent, and it is clear that Faraday's interest in Caroline have turned to thoughts of romance.

Little by little strange happenings at the crumbling mansion are becoming more frequent. The family dog, always gentle, attacks a young girl visiting, and the dog is later put to sleep. Then there is a suspicious fire, objects move by themselves, writing appears on walls, and Roderick psychological state worsens. There are more strange happenings, however I don't want to spoil the story for those of you who have not read this one yet.

The story starts off a bit slow, but I never lost interest. The author knows how to set the stage for maximum creep effect. The characters are well developed and strange in their own way. I really loved the fact that the "house", took on a major role of its own. I wasn't sure about the ending at first, but the more I thought about it, I felt satisfied. This Gothic gem is different from the two other Water's books that I read and enjoyed: Fingersmith, and Tipping the Velvet, but very good in it's own way. It's the perfect, atmospheric book to read of damp, rainy day. It would make a great book club discussion book as well.

21 comments:

  1. I don't read a lot of creepy books, but so many people like Waters' work, I feel like I need to give it a try.

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  2. I really want to read this because I loved Waters' other books, but I'm kind of saving it for Halloween! :--)

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  3. I just didn't get any creep factor from this one...and I know I'm in the minority. Still, I think Waters did a tremendous job with the post-war setting.

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  4. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It is a perfect gloomy day read and one that has stayed with me!

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  5. I enjoyed this book, but not immensely, it definitely moved a bit too slow for me. I also would really have appreciated a more conclusive ending.

    heres my review if you have a chance
    http://www.pageturnersbooks.org/2010/12/little-stranger-by-sarah-waters-ghost.html

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  6. I'm so glad to find another person who 'got' this book. I thought it was amazing...and it did have a certain creep factor without being too heavy handed. Waters is a very skillful writer, in my opinion. I can't wait to read her other works.

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  7. Ooh, does sounds creepy. Waters is great at atmosphere and setting a scene, so I don't see why she wouldn't craft a creepy feel wonderfully.

    Loved Fingersmith so will likely read this soonish. On my tbr, thanks!

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  8. I really enjoyed this book. I loved the way that Waters captured the post war atmosphere, and the decay of the house matched the pace of events. The ending - yes, I debated that one with a neighbour recently, but the ambiguity is fitting - though the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime, the event that really kicks everything off, is still inexplicable.

    I'm putting this one forward for the next round of book club.

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  9. I love Waters and have read a couple of her books as well. I bought this book several months ago, and haven't gotten the chance to read it yet. I know that it is very different than most of her other work, but I have been liking Gothic novels more lately, and think that I would have a good time with this one. Thanks for the wonderful review. I loved your candor in talking about this book!

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  10. On my shelf as one of my next reads... I loved Fingersmith so much that I hope I love this one even half as much! Thanks, Diane ~

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  11. This was my first Sarah Waters and I loved it. Since then I've read Fingersmith and I'm astounded at Waters' ability to tell a convoluted story that grabs you and won't let you go. I'm always on the watch for more of her work.

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  12. I have a couple of her books and I think I will tackle at least one of them this summer on some long lazy days (here's hoping there's a lot of those). :) It might not be normal summer reading, but for some reason it just seems like it would be the right timing for me.

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  13. I enjoyed this one as well. Fingersmith is by far my favorite but this one was rather enjoyable too. Very moody.

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  14. I have a couple of Sarah Waters books on my shelf but not this one. I know it's received great reviews but I haven't read any in-depth ones until now. I had no idea this book was creepy with a house having a major role in the store. Fascinating! I don't read a lot of scary, Gothic books but the ones I've read have been very good (Rebecca for e,g) and this sounds like one I should add to that list.
    I think I will get a copy and wait for a dark, rainy day to enjoy it!

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  15. I've enjoyed the other Waters books I've read and hope to get to this eventually...

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  16. Hey, sometimes we all need a little creepy!

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  17. Like Kathy, I don't read many creepy works either, but I do want to give Sarah Waters a try!

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  18. This is going to be my next Waters book. Glad to hear it was a good one!

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  19. I need to read this book, and this author! I've been meaning to for such a long time.

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  20. I'm with you on the ending. It took me a couple of days to digest it but I found it fit perfectly. I do love her writing. Still have two more of her books in the wings so yay!

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  21. I just finished my first book by Sarah Waters and definitely am going to read more so on to the wishlist this book goes. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed this one so much!

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