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The Paying Guests Audio Download – Unabridged

4 out of 5 stars 877 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 21 hours and 29 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio UK
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 28 Aug. 2014
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00KQRLOQG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank:

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bookie TOP 500 REVIEWER on 28 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There's no two ways about it. Sarah Waters delivers. She's an accomplished and deft storyteller and is skilled at taking her reader right into the heart of the story. Each book has a specific and well defined setting. I was initially drawn to her work by 'Fingersmith'; shades of Hogarth and Dickens cleverly woven into a convincing and compelling tale. Her Booker nominations are well deserved. Her writing is lively, her characters, plot and period are evocative. So I was keen to read her latest offering which considers a completely different period, post WWI London.

In The Paying Guests, the reader is immediately drawn in to the 1922 London setting. It's an era of faded elegance; Frances and her mother have fallen upon hard times. Father made some unwise investments, leaving his wife and daughter impoverished and the sons/ brothers died in the First World War. There are no servants, no men in the household and from the opening pages, the discomfort and sense of duty is almost palpable. To make ends meet, following the reluctant sale of household items, they are forced to take in the PGs of the title. The class division is immediately apparent. There's a new social order. Frances and her mother are no longer protected by class barriers and they're faced with the challenges of sharing both their lives and home with Lil and Len. They're 'clerk class'; a little coarse, but aspirational. Frances appears tight and constrained physically, mentally and emotionally. There's a sense of sadness and loss. In contrast, Lil personifies the new Flapper age with her shingle haircut and desire to embrace freedom, informality and a different lifestyle. Her husband Len is a cheeky chappy, confident and sensuous and full of innuendo.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well, I feel somewhat wrung out like an old dishcloth after finishing this book.

I'm in two minds slightly (several minds in fact) about it. Did I love it? Did I even like it? Did I just spend several torturous days pouring over the pages only to be punched in the solar plexus by the last few chapters? Was the ending perfect? Were the characters still likeable when all was said and done? Desperate and clinging, and often crazed with calamity as they were. Did I in fact grow to feel for them, hope for them, plan for them, only for them to let me down?

All of the above and more besides.

I can't fault the book on its wordiness, its atmosphere and depth. That's what you get with this author. I felt slightly oppressed by it in Affinity, it worked perfectly in Tipping the Velvet, and I especially cherished it in Fingersmith. This book drew me in the same, brought the characters to life, and had me reading until my eyes were raw in the hopes I could finish it, sit back and feel that everything, after all, would end up ok. Or some semblance of ok that I could live with at least.

I could live with this. It's not picture perfect. It's not all tied up in a neat bow and done with once you finish. I want to know what happens next. I need to know the rest of it, but that's not to say I wasn't satisfied with the ending; it just felt like I'd been drug there through so many bramble bushes and puddles of wet cement that I craved something more. Having said that, I felt the journey was worth it - though I do think that part 3 went on a little bit too long, with its aching need to keep me reading until I could barely stand the twisted anguish these two main characters found themselves in. It got a little maddening, but then I suppose that was the point.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This isn't a bad novel by any stretch of the imagination, only perhaps we fundamentally aren't suited and therefore only hit it off slightly. Waters' is a wordsmith and her strength is her beautifully crafted images of the mundane, miniscule or the everyday. i found the visual landscape and action in this book incredibly vivid and believable, which made the book enjoyable. My issue is the length of the suspense coded into this story arc. After the key event, there's a very very long way to go before you reach the book's conclusion. It's like seeing a runaway train coming towards you, but from a really, really, REALLY long way a way. You kind of know what's going to happen, it feels inevitable, but you're going to have to wait a long time and the suspense just keeps on, and on, until you're pretty much exhausted and frankly your interest peaked a while back thanks very much.
3 Comments 42 of 44 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although I still feel Sarah Waters never equalled two of her Victorian set novels, Fingersmith and Affinity, this may be partly because most authors have a certain pattern to their work, and if a reader has a familiarity with that author, sooner or later they will be aware of their particular tricks and habits. By the time I read her first novel, Tipping the Velvet, which I found disappointing, and her second world war novel, The Night Watch, she had become predictable, even a little tired, to me, and the rich, complex, exuberance of the first two I read, and their cast of unique, properly quirky and layered characters, so typical of Dickens, Thackeray and Collins, had fallen away into something more run of the mill

I hesitated whether to read The Paying Guests, due to mixed reviews. In the end, I was glad I made the journey, even if this did not properly fascinate until the Second Section.

Set in London just after the First War, Frances Wray and her mother are sliding into genteel poverty. Frances' brothers were killed in the trenches; her father had made bad investments, and his death leaves the two women nearly penniless. They have a large house, and decide to let out the top floor. Leonard and Lilian Barber, a lower middle class couple move in.

The slow first part of the book, where I felt most predictability was happening, was the inevitable move towards the major relationship. Complete with a several sessions involving a lot of heavy breathing and sex which has to be extremely furtive, because deeply shocking and forbidden. Etc.

I did find myself also having to fight off a constant voice which was saying `this is post First World War - why didn't Frances get a job?
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