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The Little Stranger
 
 

The Little Stranger [Kindle Edition]

Sarah Waters
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (373 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Product Description

Review

It's a gripping story, with beguiling characters . . . As well as being a supernatural tale, it is a meditation on the nature of the British and class, and how things are rarely what they seem. Chilling (Kate Mosse, The Times, Summer Read)

Waters writes with a firm, confident hand, deftly building an atmosphere that begins in a still, hot summer and gradually darkens and tightens until we are as gripped by the escalating horror as the Ayres are. (Tracy Chevalier, Observer)

By now readers must be confident of her mastery of storytelling . . . While at one turn, the novel looks to be a ghost story, the next it is a psychological drama . . . But it is also a brilliantly observed story, verging on the comedy, about Britain on the cusp of modern age . . . The writing is subtle and poised (Joy lo Dico, Independent on Sunday)

Displaying her remarkable flair for period evocation, Waters recreates backwater Britain just after the Second World War with atmospheric immediacy . . . Acute and absorbing (Peter Kemp, Sunday Times)

Review

`A gripping story, with beguiling characters . . . As well as being a supernatural tale, it is a meditation on the nature of the British and class, and how things are rarely what they seem. Chilling' Kate Mosse, The Times, Summer Read

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 689 KB
  • Print Length: 508 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (17 Sep 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002S0KB40
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (373 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,799 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Sarah Waters was born in Wales in 1966 and lives in London. Author of Tipping the Velvet, Affinity, Fingersmith and The Night Watch, her most recent book is The Little Stranger. All of her books have attracted prizes: she won a Betty Trask Award, the Somerset Maugham Award and was twice shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. Fingersmith and The Night Watch were both shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange prizes, and Fingersmith won the CWA Ellis Peters Dagger Award for Historical Crime Fiction and the South Bank Show Award for Literature. Tipping the Velvet, Affinity and Fingersmith have all been adapted for television.

The Little Stranger was a bestselling hardback and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
461 of 478 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fall of the House of Ayres 6 Jun 2009
By Gregory S. Buzwell TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
To be honest I have always had a bit of a soft spot for ghost stories but even allowing for a certain bias regarding the subject matter this is without doubt a blindingly good novel. On the surface it is all so deceptively simple. A country doctor, approaching a dreary and unloved middle age, finds himself paying regular visits to the local stately pile where he encounters the once grand but now rather moth-eaten Ayres family. Soon afterwards strange and seemingly supernatural events begin to take place: the formerly placid family dog attacks a small child; strange marks appear on the walls; bells ring for no apparent reason; doors occasionally seem to lock themselves and sinister scribbles inexplicably turn up on doors and windowsills. Dr Faraday seeks, and believes he finds, a rational explanation for the strange events but the Ayres are altogether less sure.

What makes this apparently rather simple set-up so compelling is the skill with which Waters applies layer after gentle, rustling layer of doubt, paranoia and unease. Dr Faraday is, for example, a far from perfect narrator. Unimaginative, class-conscious and painfully aware that he doesn't have the 'right accent' to fit in with the grand Ayres he finds himself alternating between cloying resentment towards the family one minute and fawning servility the next. In turn the Ayres have fallen on financially ruinous times and the - from their perspective - frankly unpleasant plebian classes are literally encroaching on Ayres territory in the form of council houses being built on land skirting Hundreds Hall. Working class on the way up collides with landed gentry on the way down. The whole situation is a portrait in minature of post-war England preparing to tear itself apart.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, but... 18 Sep 2012
By R. C. Harris TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Previous reviews have explained the plot and context.

It is beautifully written, but no bundle of laughs for sure. The story line went from tragedy to miserable tragedy without a single lighter note to complement the gloom. I didn't exactly feel like slashing my wrists before the end, but then my aptitude for self preservation is pretty well refined.

However, the ambience is quite perfect and you can almost believe that this was actually written during early post war Britain.

The characters themselves are very believable, and creep under your skin. There is Dr Faraday, a balding middle aged doctor, uncertain of his status in a socially changing society. The bright but plain and frumpish daughter, Caroline. The mother, in fear of the changes infiltrating the family way of life, and stoically facing impending ruin. You could almost feel the white of their knuckles as they cling on to tradition. A nice touch was the evening party where many came in evening dress but the lounge suits also arrived. A real metaphor for the changing social scene.

The growing relationship between the hesitant working class doctor and landed gentry Caroline is handled with fine delicacy, like watching a flower bloom.

The supernatural element began well, with just enough doubt to make you wonder if it is imagined or if something else was going on? Though the theme seemed to lose its way as the tale progressed, and eventually became simply bumps in the night. Despite that, it remained distinctly creepy.

So, why at the end did I feel rather depressed and disappointed? I accept that real life drama rarely answers all questions or provides for a nice neat ending. But I had anticipated a final proverbial rabbit out of the hat, as in Sarah Walter's book Affinity. Something that would tie up the story ends sufficiently to satisfy. But it never happened. Pity.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fairly chilling, but overrated. 29 Dec 2009
Format:Hardcover
I have only read one Sarah Waters novel, Affinity, so looked forward to The Little Stranger. Foul weather, so a perfect read, or so I thought. The novel starts slowly but I took an instant dislike to the narrator, Dr Faraday, who is a snob of the worst kind and has a monstrous chip on his shoulder to boot. I could almost see him tugging his forelock to Mrs Ayres, despite resenting her for her class. His opinion of Caroline, the daughter of Hundreds Hall, is very negative and misogynistic and he clearly prefers her mother. Waters gives clues to Dr Faraday's personality little by little and he is in that twilight zone between fitting in and not fitting in, seeming to resent everyone.

Waters sets the scene rather skilfully but it takes almost 100 pages for the first "incident" to occur, involving the family dog, Gyp. Then the tension starts building, although I felt there was too much signposting. The characters of Mrs Ayres, Caroline and Roderick are beautifully done but I secretly cheered when Caroline takes her revenge on the creepy doctor.

While reading the novel, I was reminded of another novel called The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (later filmed in 1963 as The Haunting) where a malevolent spirit singles out one specific victim. In The Little Stranger there are three victims and the house achieves its aim.

I recently read The Seance by John Harwood and much preferred it to The Little Stranger as I felt the author had caught the Gothic atmosphere perfectly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I love all Sarah Waters books
Published 12 hours ago by Denise
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book - can't understand why people thought that ...
I loved this book - can't understand why people thought that nothing happened or that it was depressing I found it a totally diverting and absorbing read and so cleverly written. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Margaret J. Wardell
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The post war decay of the ruling class has never been dissected with such precision, scorn and empathy. Fabulous
Published 11 days ago by Butterfly
3.0 out of 5 stars rather long
Did not have an interesting enough plot and it all went nowhere.
Good characterisation but plot without substance. Would like to try another of her works.
Published 12 days ago by Nancy Apain
3.0 out of 5 stars I would have preferred 100 pages less
I listened to the unabridged audio version of this book but although the story was interesting, I have marked it down because it was just too drawn out and I lost interest well... Read more
Published 19 days ago by DubaiReader
5.0 out of 5 stars First time reading Sarah Waters: Very impressed!
I was planning on giving The Little Stranger four stars, but seeing as how I am still thinking about this story days later (and in a good way), then I guess it has achieved one of... Read more
Published 20 days ago by David Brian
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
very good
Published 28 days ago by queen esther
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunted by social upheaval
The reviews on the back cover of the book intrigued me and the supernatural element was enough to draw me in. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Skaty Katie
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it!
A great great read- in fact I like to reread this book as I always find something new in it. It's satisfying but also very easy to read.
Published 1 month ago by Gloria
5.0 out of 5 stars An unreliable narrator
There is a fundamental enigma at the heart of this excellent novel set in England in the austere and grim years after the Second World War: is Hundreds Hall, the elegant but... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Douglas Kemp
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