Monday, June 8, 2009

BOOK: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, 463 pages

published in '09

I looked up the meaning of Gothic literature at wikipedia, and would have to agree that this book is a classic Gothic novel. All the main characteristics are here: terror, mystery, ghosts, haunted houses, castles, decay, and madness. Waters has taken the time period, the 1940s post-war England, of her last novel The Night Watch, and used to to craft and suspenseful period piece which chronicles the changing of life in England, especially for the aristocracy.

The beauty of a suspenseful ghost story is having the story play out, with no awareness of what is to come. Any detail I give will lessen the experience for another reader, so not many details from me on that count. I liked the characters, and the life at Hundred's Hall, home of the Ayres, was vividly brought to life. It represents a period of British history that changed so dramatically after World War II. I was on the edge of my chair as the plot slowly unfolded, and like most mysteries, my imagination was going in many different directions, wondering what could be happening, and was generally more vivid than reality. My scientific brain tried to analyse what was happening, much like the doctor narrator, and it conflicted with the evidence at hand. I was left a little confused at the ending, but this would make a terrific movie - picture Pemberley Estate for the setting. (if you read this book, and want to discuss any details of the books, so I am not posting spoilers here, feel free to email me)

If you like slow building suspense tales, British castles and Gothic romance perfectly described, this book should be great.

also reviewed by Jackie at farmlane books, jenny at jennys books, nicola at back-to-books,


  1. I really need to read this book. I have had it on the 'read soon' pile since I got it and still haven't opened it. Probably will be a bit yet, too, because I have to read some library books. It does look good, though!

  2. I agree - this would make a great movie!

    I was a bit disappointed by the ending, and it wasn't anywhere near as good as the Fingersmith, but still an enjoyable read.

  3. Yeah, I loved the slow building of the suspense and the ending made me mad too but I got over it. After I'd settled down from being annoyed with the ending I realized that when a book affects me that way, it's a really good book. I like it when a book makes me fiesty! It's not as good as Fingersmith but I don't know if she can write another Fingersmith. That may be her greatest novel.

  4. kailana - it read pretty fast for a book over 400 pages. Great atomosphere.

    jackie and nicola - Now I really can't wait to get into Fingersmith!! I hope you guys haven't built it up too much for me. I am waiting until all my correcting is done, because the end is in sight, and then I'll crack it open.
    I think I am ok with the ending now as I have my theory on things.

  5. I've only read The Night Watch. This one sounds very good, too. I still want to read her backlist and have The Fingersmith in my stacks. Just need to move it upstairs to my nightstand so I remember to get to it this summer. :)

  6. I finished this book recently for the RIP IV Challenge. Loved it! I linked to your review on my post.


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