Book Review: The Little Stranger

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Little Stranger
by Sarah Waters

This is my first experience with Sarah Waters, who I've heard so much about from others. I had heard nothing about this book in particular, but have heard that her others, Tipping the Velvet, Fingersmith, etc. are excellent. After this one, I'm aching to read more from her.

The Little Stranger is a ghost story of sorts. Told from the point-of-view of Dr. Faraday, a local bachelor in the small English town. The story follows the Ayers family who live in a huge old manor, Hundreds Hall in the 1940s. Caroline, 26, cares for her younger brother Roderick, 24, who was injured in WWII. They live with their mother and a young teenage maid, Betty.

Hundreds Halls is a character in its own right, with its rambling gardens and empty rooms. The house itself seems to be aching for something, or someone. Odd things begin to happen and the gothic tale reels you in. I was captivated by Waters yarn from the first page. Like any good haunted house story, you don't really know what's going on. Is it really haunted? Are they just mad? It was so wonderfully done. The worse "ghost stories" are the ones where a big monster jumps out from behind something and scares you. This one is so much subtler. It raises the hairs on your neck and leaves you dreaming about it for days.

I'd love to hear anyone's thoughts on the end of the book. I was left feeling more than a little suspicious of Dr. Faraday, but I don't know how much could be explained by his participation in events. He reminded me so much of Tom Ripley with his desperate yearning to be a part of the Ayers' family.


Jenners said...

I plan on reading this as I just read her book "Fingersmith" and it was FANTASTIC! Talk about twists and turns. Be sure to read it soon!

nomadreader said...

I read Tipping the Velvet when it first came out and loved it, yet despite owning all of the novels Sarah Waters has written, I haven't read any other ones. I think The Little Stranger will find its way to the top of my TBR pile soon. Thanks!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I need to read both Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet. I've heard nothing but good things about them.