No spoilers.The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. Pleased to discover this is available as a Kindle download. Not the cheapest (nor the most expensive) but with a precious two days off from my shop giving me a rare opportunity to put my feet up and read decided to get it straight away. I enjoyed Fingersmith so that was an extra motivation to get started.I've made a start on the book, nothing much has happened yet, but it has grabbed my interest all the same. The narrator is male and a GP. The style and what is known of the character of the narrator so far reminds me of some of the works of Neville Shute. N.B. If you don't like Neville Shute don't let this put you off, he was - in my opinion - a grossly uneven writer, some of his books were gems, others were not!
No spoilersI've read this so it's a re-read and a very welcome one indeed.I do remember thinking that when I read the first part of the book, before the first major incident, I enjoyed the writing style and felt that all the description etc was relevant to the story. This is a relief because a) it's a big book, LOL and b) there are often cases where I feel the level of description has been unnecessary but this has all been valuable scene setting.Hope others are enjoying it.
no spoilershow is everyone getting on with this? I'm just about three quarters through and it's just as enjoyable to read the 5th or 6th time! However, it has occurred to me that it might be a book that people don't enjoy that much the first time around but the re-reading, knowing what's coming, is a real pleasure.Any thoughts? Love to know how people are finding it.
However, it has occurred to me that it might be a book that people don't enjoy that much the first time around but the re-reading, knowing what's coming, is a real pleasure.Any thoughts? Love to know how people are finding it Kindle says I've read 78% of the book. I'm still enjoying it though I'd be baffled to explain why!N.B. The author is remarkably good at giving the feel of the particular time in which the book is set. Shortly before I was born but the same feel was still there in the 50s of my childhood. An era which I hated by the way so nothing to do with my enjoyment of the book I'm just admiring how right the author got it.Lynn
midnightcatprowl The author is remarkably good at giving the feel of the particular time in which the book is set. Shortly before I was born but the same feel was still there in the 50s of my childhood. An era which I hated by the way so nothing to do with my enjoyment of the book I'm just admiring how right the author got itThat's interesting, because I love the sense of place, so it's nice to have it confirmed in terms of accuracy.If you've read 78% of the book, you will have read most of the scary stuff that I enjoyed so much....I'd be interested to know what you thought of it, but I wonder if you have reached the part that freaked me out the most.I haven't been on this board before so I don't know what the rules are to ensure no spoilers - I presume we just wait till everyone/most people report back and says "I've read it all?"I'm probably about 70% through and already really looking forward to finishing it over tomorrow night and Tuesday night.Something else that's occurred to me - I actually didn't get particularly attached to any of the characters, and normally for me that's a problem. But perhaps in this case, I am just really attached to Hundreds?
I haven't been on this board before so I don't know what the rules are to ensure no spoilers - I presume we just wait till everyone/most people report back and says "I've read it all?"We've had various systems all of which have had their drawbacks. What seems to work at present - and I must say that from a personal point of view it works really well though others may feel differently - is just to state at the start of a post if it contains spoilers and then leave a gap before starting to type so that someone who doesn't want to know more about the book at that stage doesn't accidentally read something they don't want to.If you wait until everyone has read the book you'll essentially wait forever. There's lots of difference in the amount of time different people who contribute to this group have for reading. Some people may not even start the book until the next time they are on holiday so comments could be coming in for months. I also suspect that 'spoilers' affect different people in different ways, for some they would completely spoil their enjoyment of the book, others may deliberately read them to find out if they really want to read the book...
in that case.....SPOILER ALERT!how scary are you finding it? My particular favourites, that you will have read Lynn, are the parts when Roderick's mirror starts walking and when the extra fire starts in the kitchen.There are some supremely scary moments involving something else in the house, but at 78% I am not sure if you have reached them yet.There is a "slow creep" about all this that I find particularly enjoyable, I think there's some amazingly skilled writing there.
I've just started it and am on page 52 - nothing spooky has happened yet.Isabelx.
Ive just ordered it off ebay and I hope it arrives in time for me to get my teeth into it over the weekend. Lou.
Spoiler alert!how scary are you finding it? My particular favourites, that you will have read Lynn, are the parts when Roderick's mirror starts walking and when the extra fire starts in the kitchen.There are some supremely scary moments involving something else in the house, but at 78% I am not sure if you have reached them yet.There is a "slow creep" about all this that I find particularly enjoyable, I think there's some amazingly skilled writing there.I'll answer your queries in reverse and say that yes I find the "slow creep" very enjoyable and very powerful. Yes at 78% I was well past Roderick's mirror + a number of other events. (I have in fact since finished the book but I'll write my proper review later when I've had more time to think it all over and there is a lot to think about!).I didn't actually find Roderick's mirror that scary because given his war experiences and injuries there could have been a number of interpretations of what he saw or felt he saw. I was much more chilled by the fire which sprang up behind him in the kitchen... and the later events.I was really experiencing this more as a tale of 'unease' than as a straightforward ghost story. The unease is added to by certain responses of the characters even when nothing supernatural or whatever is going on. The ease with which all concerned for example basically forget about Roderick once they are released (on medical advice) from the difficulties of the regular visits after he is hospitalised.A huge source of unease for me at least is Faraday's assumption - never agreed with his prospective bride - that when he marries Caroline they will live at Hundreds. The scheme is total nonsense in financial terms and very obviously the reverse of Caroline's best interests.I think that for me the real terror comes almost at the end when Caroline is killed falling from the second floor balcony. Before she fell (and after going up there to investigate some noise) she says 'You!'. So who exactly could that 'you' be? Caroline was born after her older sister died of diptheria (sp?), she never knew her, if she'd met some sort of manifestation of her sister would she have said 'You!'. She grew up with Roderick and later was constantly with him as he recovered from his war injuries. If she met some sort of manifestation of him on the second floor that night would she have said 'You', a startled cry of 'Roderick!' would have been much more likely? So who or what is it that Caroline names as 'You' just before falling or being driven or pushed to her death?I have my own theory but I'd love to know how you interpret the situation Sunnypad?Lynn
spoiler alert..........Caroline's "you!" is still open to so many things in my mind. I think because she was on board with the idea that something strange had taken over the house, it could be anything, but not Roderick. I think the implication is that Roderick left completely "cleanly" and didn't leave a disturbed spirit in the house.So it could just be a strange ghost, but more likely to be the wanting of Dr Faraday wandering around. I think maybe he creates something that causes trouble when he is not there! And the last line of the book underlines that for me.one of my colleagues thought there were implications in the story that Faraday might have sleptwalked himself over there when he was allegedly asleep in the car but I haven't been able to find anything that points to that.I too noted how Roderick was forgotten when he left but that doesn't surprise me, given the attitudes towards mental illness at the time. I do agree that Faraday wanted Hundreds rather than Caroline, but I understand that - I think the relationship you can have with a house is beautifully explored here. I know Sarah Waters said that after it was published and she got feedback from readers, they seemed to see many things in it that she had not intended, which is interesting.The "unease" thing for me was more about the spooky parts - at 78%, I wondered if you had come across the issue with the speaking tube, which I couldn't shake off for a long time. It bothered me more than the deaths, perhaps because of the unpredictability of it and the simple idea that a ghost, or a presence, could trap someone so horribly. Perhaps the appeal is that haunted houses etc tend to come in more obvious packages whereas this is all very subtle. I'd be interested to find another novel in the same style, but the suggested reading on Amazon doesn't show up much that appeals.
Up to page 296.The doctor is quite creepy actually. Wormed his way in, and seems not to see how much of a burden the decrepit house is to the Ayers family. No matter how many times they mention it, he brushes it aside. And I noticed that it was shortly after Rod said something about maybe not letting Faraday continue to use the short-cut across the park, that Faraday started to push for Rod being committed, either voluntarily or against his will. Suspicious! Isabelx
MAJOR SPOILER ALERT...Okay, I've finished this now. I now can't believe I didn't think this before, but I do now think that Dr F killed Caroline. It was the only way for him to "keep" the house and also I think I didn't see him as being as sinister as others can see, so I didn't interpret the inquest information the way I should have done. For some reason, I was also under the impression that Caroline had been physically "dropped" by a force that picked her up like a cat, but now I realised she was simply pushed backwards. I don't think Dr F is responsible for the rest of it though....I think....!
Finished! SPOILERS BELOW . . .Mrs Ayres sighed. 'How this house likes to catch us out, doesn't it? As if it knows all our weaknesses and is testing them, one by one . . . God, how dreadfully tired I am.Were the strange and tragic events at Hundreds Hall caused by the ghost of a dead child, a poltergeist linked to the presence of a homesick adolescent maid, a taint of ancestral madness, the phantasm of a living person obsessed by the house (whether through wanting to possess the house, or wanting to escape from it), or by the house itself complaining of neglect? I quite like the fact that you never find out what has caused the strange events at Hundreds Hall, although the last few pages do seem to point in one direction.Both the family and their servants realise that it is the Ayres family who are being targetted. The servants may be teased and frightened, but it is only members of the family who are harmed. 'I haven;t done nothing,' she said, 'and I haven't said nothing! I don't like to think of it, anyhow. It makes me frit if I think about it when I'm downstairs on me own. It isn't my bad thing, that's what Mrs Bazeley says. If I don't go bothering him, she says, he won't come bothering me.'Although it is hard to tell Faraday's real motivation because he is the one telling the story, and no doubt twisting it to put himself in a better light, I don't think he loves Caroline at all. I think that in order to raise his social status and get his hands on Hundreds Hall, he is willing to put up with her plain looks, but only as long as she conducts herself as a member of the landed gentry should. He seems to actively hate her whenever he sees her covered in dirt doing housework like a maid, His obsession with the decaying house that is in reality a millstone round the Ayres' neck is senseless. It is not as if he is 'new money' riding to the rescue, like Caroline's ugly but extremely wealthy great-grandmother; he is a struggling doctor from working-class roots, who doesn't even own his own house. With him as head of the family and refusing obdurately to sell up, Hundreds Hall would have continued to fall apart, eating up the family's remaining capital and leaving them with nothing. But he still got what he wanted in the end.
so Isabel, how many stars would you give it, out of 5?
so Isabel, how many stars would you give it, out of 5?If we are limited to whole numbers I would give it 4 stars, otherwise 4.5 stars.Anybody else? IsabelxPS: I will probably start on "A Princess of Mars" at the beginning of May.
Spoiler alert!I know Sarah Waters said that after it was published and she got feedback from readers, they seemed to see many things in it that she had not intended, which is interesting.I was most interested by this comment as I think there are so many ways you could interpret this story. Having read it 'my way' as it were I think I will always see Dr Faraday as the source of the problems and likely in some way or other the killer of Caroline. (I know that the young maid feels something bad in the house which is why she pretends to be ill and this is what leads to Faraday coming to the house in the first place but it would not be unnatural for a girl of this age to find this large decaying house 'spooky' as it were and the real evil seems to arrive once Faraday is also on the scene).It is interesting that this story is such compulsive reading as it doesn't really have many very sympathetic characters. Well Faraday's partner and his wife seem like okay people but they aren't developed as characters. The young maid actually comes over during the course of the book as quite a steadfast character in her own way. Roderick comes over as in some way heroic for putting himself in the line of fire of the manifestations while trying to protect his mother and sister but is not otherwise a particularly likeable or interesting character. Mrs Ayres was 'in love with' her first child but seems to be a 'user' of the second two without much real affection for them, she is an interesting character but not exactly a sympathetic one. I also don't readily accept the way she seems to forget Roderick, nor the way she completely ignores Caroline's needs.Caroline? Well you can't help but feel sorry for Caroline, she's not the first passionately loved child so not much valued even if depended upon, nor is she the boy so she gets a very second rate education, she's dragged back from a career she enjoyed to care for first her brother and then her mother and this wretched house. On the other hand she gives very mixed messages to Faraday - or maybe she is attracted but uneasy about something or beginning to realise that she is only a means to an end which has no meaning for her? Faraday gradually comes over as quite creepy perhaps because of his sort of neediness? Even in the era when this book was written not every bachelor found it necessary to live in depressing surroundings that they do nothing about, he's also at the start of the book very dependent on the company of his partner and his partner's wife. Okay he's not rich but he can afford a housekeeper! He could well afford to make his living situation comfortable and suitable to him except that as the book progresses it seems to be that what he wants and maybe always did want is a sort of semi-stately home to which now the unfortunate Caroline becomes the route. The obsessive nature of his attitude to Hundreds comes through here as Hundreds is actually now as dreary in fact much drearier than his own home. He becomes more creepy as the book goes on because having seemed at the start quite a kind and helpful person he seems to become totally indifferent to the welfare of the person he is anxious to marry.On a personal level I have to admit that the love of houses has passed me by which may make me less sympathetic to some aspects of this story!I would say again that I think the era and its atmosphere and patterns of thinking and class distinctions is very very accurately portrayed here. How many stars? That's hard. This book is well written, very well written. Many works are popular for a while but then drop out of sight but it is hard to feel that this book by Sarah Waters won't survive long term as a fairly classic story of unease? On the other hand I'd describe it as compulsive reading rather than great literature. As literature I think I'd score it three stars. As compulsive keep you up late type reading I'd go with Isabelle's 4 or 4.5 stars. Half way through if you'd asked me if I'd ever re-read this book I'd have said 'no' because though I was enjoying it once I'd read it that would be it. Now I suspect that sooner or later I'll read it again simply because there are so many possibilities in it and maybe next time around my conclusions about what happened will be different.Lynn
no spoilersLynn, it's interesting to me that you say the love of houses has passed you by - because to me, this is key to having a story succeed with a distinct lack of sympathetic characters. The house is the main character to me and because I am fascinated by it, I can manage without even one character that I really like - with other novels, unless I really like at least one person, I can't get along with the book.I certainly don't dislike anyone in the book. I only began to dislike Faraday towards the end, when he began to dispute some of the things Caroline said.I too find it odd that Faraday chooses to live glumly - in many ways he likes to pretend he is a victim because of being single! The only thing that did occur to me later was that he might have been saving money as much as possible because no one knew what the NHS would bring. The housekeeper would have been considered a fairly essential expense for a man like him in those days I guess. I've said several times how much I love this book so I would, predictably, give it five stars.
I'm aware that everyone has already read most if not all of this book so I'm lagging behind. I agree with everyone's comments that it is a good read, well written and describes the time it's set in very well.I'd read a review on amazon before I started the book and I expected the Dr to come over as a psycopath but he doesn't really in the beginning. He seems quite sad and lonely although he is not a very likeable character. He is only just beginning to creep me out a bit now that he has started viewing Caroline as a potential wife. I'm really enjoying the book and hope to finish it over the next few days. Lou.
Farady seems to be stuck. He should be forging forward into the new world, like Babb the builder and the doctor who offers him a job in London - both men from humble origins like Faraday but who have seized the opportunities that wouldn't have been available to their fathers. Whereas Faraday is looking backwards, in an entirely unrealistic attempt to become a member of the landed gentry. Not unrealistic in his marital ambitions necessarily (as if he had been less creepy and less obviously obsessed by the house, Caroline might well have married him) but unrealistic in his hopes of living the life of the landed gentry, when that life is crumbling (as the gentry themselves are well aware), and only Rod or Caroline marrying someone really rich could have hoped to return Hundreds Hall to its previous state.Isabelx
Laying my cards on the table at the start, I'd give this a 3 out of 5 at a push. Not my cup of tea at all. I was bored by all the characters and the house. They were all so dull but I guess that sense of ordinariness heightens the spooky parts. It was well enough written that I didn't give up but it was a bit of a chore and I read it in a few large chunks with a week or so between. I was most concerned about how easy it was to diagnose mental illness and hospitalise someone, or that a doctor so involved with the family could be left to do a potentially important post-mortem. Times change, or one would hope.Not one for me to re-read.MM
I finished it eventually, I enjoyed it and didn't find it boring at all. The "slow creep" for me was all in the Dr's character, his behaviour got more and more obsessive and bizarre all the way through and I particularly enjoyed the last chapter, I thought it left the reader with a lot of unanswered questions and a definite sense of foreboding. A bit like the end of film where you are left hoping for a sequel. Lou.
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