Download the free Kindle app and start reading Kindle books instantly on your smartphone, tablet or computer – no Kindle device required. Learn more
Read instantly on your browser with Kindle Cloud Reader.
Using your mobile phone camera, scan the code below and download the Kindle app.
Enter your mobile phone or email address
By pressing ‘Send link’, you agree to Amazon's Conditions of Use.
You consent to receive an automated text message from or on behalf of Amazon about the Kindle App at your mobile number above. Consent is not a condition of any purchase. Message and data rates may apply.
Follow the Author
The Little Stranger Hardcover – 30 April 2009
Enhance your purchase
Frequently bought together
- Publisher : Riverhead Books (30 April 2009)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 466 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1594488800
- ISBN-13 : 978-1594488801
- Dimensions : 16.51 x 3.81 x 23.5 cm
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Review this product
Top review from Australia
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Top reviews from other countries
Faraday, a GP with - in his own words - the appearance of a ‘balding shopkeeper’ is called out to Hundreds, the sizable home of the Ayres family in Warwickshire countryside, to attend to young maid Betty who appears to have a stomach complaint. It’s 1947 but Faraday has been to the house years before, when his mother was in service there. ‘I knew the place, I had been here before,’ strangely reminiscent of the character Charles Ryder in his opening to Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, and a likely indication of what the reader can expect; a decaying aristocracy, repressions, addictions, the emergence of new social order, and an unhappy? love affair.
Sure enough, Faraday encounters son Rodrick, war-damaged and edgy, meets his sister - cardigan-wearing Caroline, heavy of face, straight of leg, and he converses with their mother Mrs Ayres who seems like a slightly better-presented version of Miss Havisham. Ma Ayres is an emotional cold fish whose displacement activities consist of gazing at old family photographs and recalling her late husband ‘the Colonel.’ She wastes no time in putting Pip – sorry Dr. Faraday - in his place by presenting him with a photograph of the Hundreds’ staff taken in the 1890s(?) which according to her shows Faraday’s mother. The metaphor of cold fish is aptly and masterly developed three quarters way through the narrative in a scene in Hundreds’ walled garden during which Faraday presses his hands against the ice of an ornamental pond to let air to the imprisoned carp swimming below.
Faraday’s visits to the Ayres family increase in frequency as the narrative progresses, in fact so much of his time he's spending there that the reader is baffled by how he has time for other patients, puzzled as to how he can hold his practice together or his relationship with professional partner Dr Graham. To my mind this highlights the first of two main flaws in this novel. Faraday is the main protagonist, moreover he’s the sole narrator, but it’s Hundreds which is the seat of the action. He can't be in two places at once, so a large proportion of the narrative – including some of the most dramatic scenes – is delivered to the reader second hand - 'Caroline told me later', or 'Mrs Ayres told me later,' which gives it an air of artificiality and pushes the reader away. Perhaps that was Waters’ intention, and it’s only my view, someone else may see it differently.
The second problem is that of sowing the seed of an idea and then reinforcing that idea. It’s no spoiler to say that the house appears to have a spook. That’s what every reader wants to believe, and given the situation of weird house, eccentric family they don’t need much convincing – two or three incidents of poltergeist/ghostly activity would do the job, but Waters spends several hundred pages showing the reader what they have already taken on board, give a spook some respect! The reader wants to move on, perhaps witness attempts at exorcism, hear more about the psychology of Rodrick, or the dark side of the Colonel, but instead they’re forced to sit in frustration reading about an apparently endless war of attrition between Betty (poltergeist believer) Rodrick (believer) Mrs Ayres (believer) Caroline (undecided) and Faraday (sceptic, man of science and, ‘trust me I’m a doctor!’). The reader feels like part of the audience of a pantomime where there’re frustrated shouts of, ‘behind you!’ It might well work on screen – and I’ve not seen the film of the same title – in tension build and suspense, but on the page, it seems to be overworked, over-written, and occasionally tedious. I emphasize, my view alone, others may see differently.
There’s some wonderful writing though. In one scene, Faraday – who begins to think he might do worse than marry ‘plain old Miss Caroline Ayres’, takes her to a doctors’ dance. It’s written in immediate scene, brings the reader straight into the action, and gives real substance to the relationship between Faraday and Caroline. There’s a scene in Faraday’s car ‘after the ball has ended’ and it made this reader – anyway – wistful of perhaps not having gone to enough dances in his youth, and rather conscious of his own clumsiness. First rate!
The question I found myself left with was, why did Waters not give Caroline a point of view -POV- of her own, then the reader could experience her mood and feelings first hand. It needn’t have weakened the denouement, nor explained the oddness of Caroline, but in my opinion it would have made better literature, rather than the work reading like an over-sized maquette intended to be later handed over to a screenwriter for the ‘serious’ business of film making?!
I had previously read paying guests, I love the way she writes drawing you in to the character’s personalities . Will definitely read her other books ,2 of which have been televised, hope this one is too.
It brilliantly evokes a crumbling mansion and the days of post-war austerity. It is about class in a way and the envy of wealth.
There is inevitably a feminist angle but its subtly done without beating the reader over the head with the obvious inequality of the time.
I would read more Sarah Waters on this basis as she is clearly a skilful writer...whether her "lesbo romps" (her words) will draw me in so much who knows but this was very good.