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The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
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The Little Stranger (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Sarah Waters

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,1433041,770 (3.6)1 / 808
Member:knittingfreak
Title:The Little Stranger
Authors:Sarah Waters
Info:Riverhead Hardcover (2009), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 480 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:own, gothic, 2009, 52 week challenge

Work details

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (2009)

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English (290)  Dutch (4)  Finnish (3)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (304)
Showing 1-5 of 290 (next | show all)
The story is worth it, and it IS creepy here and there, but it's too long. This book would be 4.5 stars if it was 350 pages instead of 608. Simply too much mundane life description that can be cut without removing anything from the story. Great writing style. ( )
  kinwolf | May 27, 2019 |
I think I like her happy books better! This was a good ghost story though along with the story of the end of aristocracy in post WWII England. ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
I think I like her happy books better! This was a good ghost story though along with the story of the end of aristocracy in post WWII England. ( )
  cindywho | May 27, 2019 |
This is a very slow building novel...and I do mean slow. Without the character of Dr. Faraday it would also have been an extremely dark story. You know that something "other worldly inhabits" the house with the Ayres family but you don't find out what it is until almost the end of the book...however you have built your ideas early on. Sarah Waters writes with an easy to read style. If you have the patience to endure the suspense then you will enjoy this story. It is also on DVD and right in line with the book. ( )
  Carol420 | Mar 14, 2019 |
The Little Stranger is a creepy atmospheric novel that was a finalist for The Booker Prize in 2009. This is one of the best novels I have read in some time, and even though I figured out the “mystery” before I got to the end of the book, the closing pages were still chilling.

This novel introduces us to Dr. Faraday, who grew up in the quaint English countryside and as an adult returns to reside as a somewhat successful doctor. As a young boy his mother was a nurse maid at Hundred’s Hall, a mansion of the rich Ayres family. As a young teenager he became enamored of the mansion but eventually left for school.

Years later he is suddenly called to the house to treat the family’s young maid and is immediately taken aback by the decline of the house and the family’s fortunes. The Ayres family has fallen on extremely hard times financially and emotionally after World War II and are struggling to keep the huge house afloat, mostly without success. The decline of the family’s fortunes mirrors that of Hundred’s Hall.

The remnants of the family include Mrs. Ayres who is an aging woman clinging desperately to the past and her daughter Caroline who is a capable but somewhat plain, unmarried 27 year old who seems resigned to her fate as an old maid in the declining house. Then you have Mrs. Ayres’ son Roderick, who has a severe leg injury from the war but is trying to keep the family estates and fortune afloat, but appears to be in way over his head. The decline of the house and this insular, eccentric family are stark and inexorable.

Dr. Faraday quickly ingratiates himself with the family and finds himself a frequent visitor to the mansion. And he finds himself again enamored of it, despite it’s failing and decrepit shape. Then strange things begin to happen. Roderick starts having visions and begins to sink into what appears to be insanity as he starts having severe headaches and sees a malevolent spirit. The docile family dog Gyp attacks a small child visiting with her family, ripping her face up. Strange markings are found in Roderick’s room and other parts of the house. Mrs. Ayres sees visions of her other, more beloved daughter who died at a young age. Strange fires break out. Is there really something haunting the house? Dr. Faraday, who has fallen in love with Caroline and wants to marry her, doesn’t think so. But strange things continue to happen, until the very end.

This novel is extremely well written and has great depth and well explored characters. While the novel starts out slowly as it builds up the atmosphere the reader will inhabit, the payoff is a very intricate and somewhat oppressive story about the decline and fall of what is left of the Ayres family, their homestead, Hundred’s Hall, and a mysterious haunting. I highly recommend it.
( )
  DougBaker | Mar 8, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 290 (next | show all)
While at one turn, the novel looks to be a ghost story, the next it is a psychological drama of the calibre of du Maurier's Rebecca. But it is also a brilliantly observed story, verging on comedy, about Britain on the cusp of the modern age.
 
In the end, though, however fresh the prose, confident the plotting and astute the social analysis, The Little Stranger has a slightly secondhand feel to it. Waters is clearly at the top of her game, with few to match her ability to bring the past to life in a fully imagined world. I look forward to the book in which she leaves behind past templates, with their limitations, and breaks away to make her own literary history.
 
I guess the Waters fans I spoke to were right to be anxious. There is plenty of lovely writing here, and the plot wasn't so dissatisfying that it put me off entirely. But it made me wary. Should I be? Or is it her worst work? Or, indeed, am I missing something? Over to you.
 
The Little Stranger, like all the best works of postmodernist fiction, acknowledges both that making up stories is a mistaken and hopeless way to try to understand the world, and at the same time that it’s the best – perhaps the only – way we have.
 
The story ends in madness, suicide and a creepy darkness reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier's "Rebecca" -- mixed with jolts of anxiety and social upheaval reminiscent of today's news.
 

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Waters, Sarahprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
中村有希訳Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bartocci, MaurizioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Borges, Ana Luiza DantasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Defossé, AlainTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dewey, AmandaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gawlik-Małkowska, MagdalenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Groen, NicoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ho, AndreaCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kwakkel, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leibmann, UteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Puchalská, Barbora PungeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rooijen, Lucie vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ropret, AlenkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trevillions, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zulaika, JaimeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
林曉芳Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Сафронова, АлександраTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my parents, Mary and Ron, and my sister, Deborah.
First words
I first saw Hundreds Hall when I was ten years old.
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I'd regularly heard her referred to locally as 'rather hearty', a 'natural spinster', a 'clever girl' - in other words she was noticeably plain.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
A chilling and vividly rendered ghost story set in postwar Britain, by the bestselling and award-winning author of The Night Watch and Fingersmith.

Sarah Waters's trilogy of Victorian novels Tipping the Velvet, Affinity, and Fingersmith earned her legions of fans around the world, a number of awards, and a reputation as one of today's most gifted historical novelists. With her most recent book, The Night Watch, Waters turned to the 1940s and delivered a tender and intricate novel of relationships that brought her the greatest success she has achieved so far. With The Little Stranger, Waters revisits the fertile setting of Britain in the 1940s — and gives us a sinister tale of a haunted house, brimming with the rich atmosphere and psychological complexity that have become hallmarks of Waters's work.

The Little Stranger follows the strange adventures of Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. One dusty postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline — its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.

Abundantly atmospheric and elegantly told, The Little Stranger is Sarah Waters's most thrilling and ambitious novel yet.
Haiku summary
Strange happenings at
Hundreds Hall: poltergeist or
Rational answer?
(passion4reading)

No descriptions found.

(see all 2 descriptions)

One dusty postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall, the residence of the Ayres family for more than two centuries. Its owners, mother, son and daughter, are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as conflicts of their own. But the Ayreses are haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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