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I love Gothic fiction but I can't say I liked this book. The story was too long and drawn out and the characters were a bit annoying. For a good ghost story, try any of Wendy Webb's books.
This book took me by surprise. Dr. Faraday is our narrator, but by the end of the book my opinion of him had changed completely.
I've read one other Sarah Waters book (Tipping the Velvet) and I recall being swept away by it, whereas it took me a while to settle into the world of Hundreds Hall and Faraday's voice. The Little Stranger didn't cause "several sleepless nights," as Stephen King attests on the cover blurb, but Waters truly knows how to set a mood through atmosphere. Hundreds is creepy in its deterioration, a reflection of its fading aristocratic family. If there is a "little stranger" within its walls, why is it so angry?
Many of the mysteries of Hundreds are left unsolved, and I find that even eerier than the alternative.
Gothic fiction novels are some of my absolute favorite to read, and this is, by far, one of the best. The eeriness of the entire situation slowly envelops the reader, so by the end you feel just as suffocated and paranoid as the characters within the book. This is a story Shirley Jackson would have loved and approved of - perfect for when the weather turns colder and the darkness of the evenings come earlier and earlier.
I enjoyed this subtly spooky story, set in postwar England of the 1940's. Don't look for a jump in your face fright with this one; but, a beautifully descriptive story of the demise of a once great family in a huge crumbling estate with sneaky little suspected supernatural events that might be explained away by "the rational".
A strange story . I couldn't make up my mind whether the house was haunted or all the family were mentally ill. The ending seemed unfinished somehow. It took a long time to read.
In post-WWII England, village physician Dr. Faraday is called to Hundreds Halls—a once grand estate that is now in decay and a financial burden on its once grand and no longer wealthy upper class owners. After this first visit, he slowly befriends the Ayres family and begins to witness a subtle malevolent force in the house that seems intent on destroying its occupants. This eerie novel is both a literary ghost story and a fascinating look at postwar Britain at the brink of social change.
I read this book when it first came out, I think I still have it somewhere.
I'm stealing from a few of the earlier comments as some of them made me remember the book quite clearly.
Yes good development of the characters because after all this time I
remember them and how they related/interacted with each other.
And yes I remember that sense of foreboding, the tension, and my uneasiness and irritation with Dr. Faraday. I remember it was one of those books where I kept saying oh just a few more pages and a few more, then the next thing I knew it was 2 in the a.m. She's good enough
that I searched out the rest of her books. She's good enough that I remembered the feeling of the book
years later. The words used in the other comments are right on, foreboding, dread, tense and disturbing.
"Set against a grim post-WWII British backdrop, this novel focuses on working-class Dr. Faraday, who's summoned to Hundreds Hall to attend to the aristocratic Ayres family. Faraday, the son of an Ayres household servant, has not seen the place in 30 years. Far from the splendour he remembers, Hundreds Hall is a decaying ruin and its surviving occupants - widowed Mrs. Ayres; her war-damaged son, former RAF pilot Roderick; and her "spinster" daughter, Caroline - are troubled by what they claim is an evil supernatural force. Atmospheric and foreboding, this novel balances Gothic creepiness with fascinating commentary on class distinctions, attraction, and perception." June 2013 Fiction A to Z newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=645214
This book is about the class system in post WW II Britain. Although it takes the author about 50 pages to set up the story, it is suspenseful to the end. A very good read.
The Little Stranger has some spooky parts, however, I kept waiting for soemthing more in the story. It was a little slow to start but kept me reading. I enjoyed the descriptions of the house and I thought the characters were nicely developed but just can't help feeling like there should have been something more....
What I liked about this book was the sense of foreboding atmosphere Waters created, and how the characters were affected by it over time. What I didn't like was the wishy-washy approach to what actually haunted the family at the center of the story.
This novel, part gothic tale and part historical suspense kept me up until all hours. The Little Stranger is an old-fashioned ghost story, complete with spooky house, eccentric inhabitants and a narrator who may not be as mild-mannered as he seems. Doctor Faraday, a lonely bachelor, first visited Hundred’s Hall in 1919 as a child when his mother worked for the aristocratic Ayres family. Now, 30 years later he is called back to treat a servant. His once solitary life becomes entangled with the family: Mrs. Ayres the elegant owner; her 24 year old son Roderick, an RAF airman wounded during the war: and daughter Caroline, considered a plain spinster by locals, but for whom Dr. Faraday develops a special attachment. And the mansion, Hundred’s Hall, is to my mind the most important character in the story. Author Sarah Waters ever so slowly builds the suspense as she skillfully weaves tension and dread into each and every paragraph. A book not to be missed.
Hundreds Hall, a once-grand estate in rural Warwickshire, frames the setting of Sarah Waters' newest novel. Post WWII, the house is declining rapidly: the masonry is crumbling, the wallpaper is peeling and weeds have entirely choked out the garden. Roderick Ayers, who has returned wounded from the War, is desperate to hold his home together for the sake of his mother and his sister, Caroline. As Dr. Faraday, the narrator who treats Roderick's injured leg, becomes entwined with the Ayeres family, disturbing occurrences within Hundreds imply that the house has taken on a life of its own. Indeed, the Hall seems possessed by something sinister, something determined to upset the lives of all the Ayeres'.
I have now read all five of Sarah Waters' novels and I maintain that she's an ingenious storyteller who never allows the reader's attention to falter. She does an especially good job of developing her characters and brilliantly takes on the point of view of an (intentionally) irritating and unreliable narrator. However, this wasn't my favourite of her books (I'd place it somewhere in the middle) mostly because it has an uncharacteristically linear plot and because it lacks the shocking twists and turns for which Waters is famous.
Incredibly creepy -- because it slowly dawns on you that the narrator is not a credible witness. And that his plans and purposes are not what he thinks they are. A slow start but so thrillinig by the end that I read this almost naked by the light of the closet after everyone had gone to bed -- just couldn't wait to see what happened. So plan ahead for the end of the book, when you will be glued to it.
Although it has a bit of a slow start, it does help build on the suspense later in the novel - then I couldn't put it down. The menace grows slowly through the book & I was not at all prepared for the events-particularly the ending. Great writing!
The Little Stranger
by Sarah Waters
The writing is good but the story is repetitive and moves slowly, leaving you at the end with a sense that you missed out on something. You don't get a good insight into the characters.
_The Little Stranger_, by Sarah Waters, is a well-crafted psychological thriller combining elements of ghost stories, murder mysteries and historical novels. Set in post-WWII England, the protagonist is drawn into the dark world of a run-down estate and its inhabitants when he attends a medical call for a maid working at Hundreds Hall. This cozy, literary read features strong character development, a tangibly gloomy decayed-Victorian atmosphere and a very low gore-factor. An excellent read for those who like to be thoroughly creeped out, but would rather snuggle up with a literary case of the shivers than a relentless gorefest.
**spoiler alert** A co-worker recommended Sarah Waters to me, so I read The Night Watch and thought it was okay, then read this one, which was also only okay. She's a great writer, but the narrative distance in this one was truly annoying. Really interesting things were happening, but having them told by a self-righteous skeptic who was never there for the creepiest parts is irritating. Clearly we're supposed to think that it is the narrator himself who is somehow "haunting" this house, but Waters never really explains it, so the ending is anti-climactic and predictable. I spent most of the novel yelling at the narrator to stop being such an idiot. I feel like I would have liked it more if it was narrated by one of the characters who were actually experiencing the haunting. I hope she uses her considerable talents someday, but so far she's just frustrating me.
Interesting book. Definitely leaves you wondering what had just happened and was the doctor responsible for all or part of the tragedies of the last Ayres.
A good gothic story, however, I felt that it was a little slow and rather long at times. It was well written and unsettlingly creepy at times - but I would have liked the ending to provide just a little more information...
I enjoyed "The little stranger" immensely ... very well-written, stylish and intelligent, with a terrific ending. The novel was short-listed for the Booker, and has an almost Twilight-Zone feel about it. Disturbing and hideous at times, but always in a very polite way. Does that make sense? Also, if ever a character was in denial, it would be Dr. Faraday ... just my two cents.
creepy, little slow at times but the story-telling was terrific. Booker Shortlisted in 2009
Very well written but disappointing overall as a Ghost story. Left me wanting more as though the story didn't quite deliver. Sarah Watters is a 5 star story teller but I don't believe she has managed with her last three novels to match the clever and unique plot and storyline of her masterpiece, Fingersmith. She succeeds in keeping the reader rivited to the page in The Little Stranger, but the strength of the storyline is overshadowed by the overdevelopment of the characters themselves. I finished the book hoping I would find an announcement at the end that Part Two would soon be published. It was not to be.