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The Little Stranger (2009)

by Sarah Waters

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,8733342,014 (3.59)1 / 823
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)

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 Orange January/July: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters13 unread / 13LizzieD, February 2015

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English (321)  Dutch (4)  Finnish (3)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (335)
Showing 1-5 of 321 (next | show all)
200 pages too many. ( )
  Jenn4567 | Mar 3, 2023 |
I love haunted house books and seek them out. This fell completely and utterly flat for me. I think the issue is that it is not a book about a haunted house-- not literally, not metaphorically. It is a book about misogyny and class differences in the 1940s. The most (only) satisfying bit of the book for me was a decision that a central female character makes near the end of the book that utterly flabbergasts the protagonist. That was delightful. Otherwise, this entire book is the literary equivalent of falling asleep during an episode of Upstairs Downstairs.

CW: dog death-- though, frankly, the appearance of the central female character's LEG HAIR gets more page time. ( )
1 vote purplepaste | Feb 18, 2023 |
Sarah Waters is a wonderful writer, and this unusual and measured story lies somewhere between 'We have always lived in the castle' and 'House of Leaves'. Having read through some of the reviews here on GR, opinion on this book is very divided, depending on how people interpret the ending. The story follows a clear structure and, while there are enough clues for the reader to arrive at a satisfying conclusion at the end of the story, the ambiguity is the reason I've given it 4 stars instead of 5. ( )
  MochaVonBee | Jan 21, 2023 |
After reading mixed reviews, I wasn't sure what to expect and almost quit listening to the audio book. I'm glad I didn't.

I rounded up from 3.5 because Sarah Waters is a great story teller. I felt it was a bit longer than it needed to be but, contrary to many others, I enjoyed the end. Quite a bit. ( )
  amcheri | Jan 5, 2023 |
An English village doctor is called out to Hundreds Hall, a once-glamorous, now crumbling estate where his mother used to be employed as a nursemaid, to tend to a young servant girl. From that moment he becomes entangled in the affairs of the diminishing manor and its inhabitants: the widowed older mother, the spry, spinster daughter, and the son who suffers from physical and emotional trauma after the war. But there seems that there may be another resident of Hundreds, and unseen and potentially not-that-friendly one...

Very heavy gothic vibes here, and I loved it! Somewhere between mystery and horror, the story moves along at a perfect pace, and all the characters - including the estate itself - are drawn with wonderful detail. ( )
  electrascaife | Dec 9, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 321 (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.
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I first saw Hundreds Hall when I was ten years old.
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)

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.

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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?

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