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    The Little Stranger (Virago Press) (Paperback) By (author) Sarah Waters


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    DescriptionIn a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, its owners - mother, son and daughter - struggling to keep pace. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister 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.

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    Ghost or host?5

    Lisa Preston A crumbling manor housing & an English family in decline physically, emotionally & financially & spiritually. Those residing within the 'Hundreds' manse appear to be lead to madness and/or suicidality. Is something malevolent lurking within the walls or is the house just echoing the decay of a family & its concomitant genetic imperative? The local doctor & household staff play admirably, & quite differently, off the family's fears. Who will you believe? by Lisa Preston

  • A Gothic Tale with a Disappointing Ending3

    Susan Wight The Little Stranger is a gothic tale of haunted house, reminiscent of Rebecca. The Ayers family are clinging to their family mansion, Hundreds Hall, in post war England in a hostile economic and political climage. We meet them through the local doctor, Dr Faraday (like Mrs de Winter, we are never told his first name) who attends their maid and subsequently strikes up a friendship with the family. Gradually we come to know them and to realise all is not well at Hundreds Hall. When an evening party goes horribly wrong, nothing will ever be the same for the family as they each become more involved in the strange happenings at the house. Will the family overcome whatever is wrong in the house and will Dr Faraday prove immune?
    The pace and mystery are enjoyable but I found the ambiguous ending unsatisfactory. Worth a read. by Susan Wight

  • A new Gothic classic5

    Joseph Camilleri Sarah Waters's latest novel - the Booker-shortlisted The Little Stranger - is a haunted house story set in rural Warwickshire in the years just following the Second World War. Its protagonists are the Ayreses - Roderick, a young man who runs the family estate, his unmarried sister Caroline and their widowed mother. They are the last descendants of a once-distinguished stock whose fortunes are now in as ruinous a state as Hundreds Hall, the crumbling mansion they live in. Their already precarious existence is thrown into further disarray when unexplained events start taking place at the Hall and nights are disturbed by strange sounds and moving objects. Are the Ayreses simply delusional or are there more sinister forces at work?

    Waters' novels tend to be strong on plot and this one is no exception. The narrator is a country doctor who befriends the Ayres family and Waters appropriately adopts a rather bland, matter-of-fact voice. This leaves little space for striking turns of phrase and for the first hundred pages or so the novel is slow-moving and rather bland. When the frights begin however they are doubly effective. The book starts to cast its spell, drawing the reader into its folds as, inexorably, scare follows scare up to a stylishly ambiguous ending. There is plenty to enjoy along the way, not least the psychological complexities of the narrator and the impeccable evocation of a post-war England torn between nostalgia for a vanishing past and a more or less wary acceptance of new social realities.

    Though it might not beat Fingersmith which, in my opinion, remains the best of Waters' works so far, I would heartily recommend The Little Stranger as a gripping new classic of the gothic genre. by Joseph Camilleri

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