The Paying Guests Hardcover – 28 Aug 2014
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Absolutely brilliant (Jacqueline Wilson Sunday Times)
A page-turning melodrama and a fascinating portrait of London on the verge of great change (Guardian)
Waters's page-turning prose conceals great subtlety. Acutely sensitive to social nuance, she keeps us constantly alert . . . From a novelist who has been shortlisted for the Booker three times, this is a winner (Intelligent Life (The Economist))
The novel's remarkable depth of field - from its class-ridden background to its individuals' peccadilloes - is sharply portrayed by an author writing at her best. Waters's 20-20 vision perceives the interior world of her characters with rare acuity in a prose style so smooth it pours down the page in a book to be prized (Scotland on Sunday)
A sumptuously subdued story of making do and getting by after the great war (Philip Hensher Guardian)
Brilliantly involving . . . juicy, beautifully observed [and] not afraid to be explicit (Metro)
A triumph (Woman & Home)
You will be hooked within a page . . . At her greatest, Waters transcends genre: the delusions in Affinity (1999), the vulnerability in Fingersmith (2002), the undercurrents of social injustice and the unexplained that underlie all her work, take her, in my view, well beyond the capabilities of her more seriously regarded Booker-winning peers. But The Paying Guests is the apotheosis of her talent; at least for now. I have tried and failed to find a single negative thing to say about it. Her next will probably be even better. Until then, read it, Flaubert, Zola, and weep (Charlotte Mendelson Financial Times)
A masterpiece of social unease . . . It isn't so much the plot that makes you read on - the novel's armature is a comparatively uncomplicated suspense narrative but barnacled to it is an astonishing accretion of detail . . . A virtuoso feet of storytelling (Jane Shilling Evening Standard)
She give(s) us a poignant love story which symbolically sees in the death of the old order, the death of the old fashioned husband and maybe the birth of an era of love without secrets (Independent)
Waters is brilliant (The Times)
A nod towards Little Dorrit also seems perceptible in the book's quiet ending amid the bustle and clamour of London. Unillusioned but tentatively hopeful, it is a beautifully gauged conclusion to a novel of ambitious reach and triumphant accomplishment (Peter Kemp Sunday Times)
The Paying Guests demonstrates the writerly qualities for which Waters is esteemed, proving as 'fantastically moody and resonant', in terms of the rendering of domestic space, as a novel the author herself described as such and which she once said she would like to have written: Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca (Literary Review)
Sarah Waters is, quite simply, one of our greatest writers (Joanna Briscoe Sunday Express)
Another wild ride of a novel . . . [I was] helplessly pulled along by the magnetic storytelling (Tracy Chevalier Observer)
Sumptuous . . . The writing is impeccable. A joy in every respect (Lionel Shriver New Statesman)
An uninterruptable joy of a novel . . . Sarah Waters at her tip-top best (Juliet Nicolson Evening Standard)
The Paying Guests is so evocative and compelling that all the time I was reading, I had a feeling it was me who had done something terrible, instead of her characters (Rachel Joyce Observer)
Fiction book of the year
This novel magnificently confirms [Sarah Waters's] status as an unsurpassed fictional recorder of vanished eras and hidden lives
The Paying Guests reminded me just how clever it is to create characters that captivate through their adventures in a world so well-realised that you can almost reach out and touch it (Zoe Strachan Sunday Herald)
I raced through it, breathing fast and when I had finished had to reread parts of the wonderful early chapters. I don't like historical novels but this is the exception. I shall let a few months go by and then read it all over again with, I'm sure, undiminished pleasure (Ruth Rendall Guardian)
Super-gripping . . . There is a huge momentum to this story (William Leith Evening Standard)
Sickeningly tense - and thumpingly good (Daily Mail)
Waters is an author to cherish (Guardian)
You know you are in the hands of a skilful, confident writer when you read a Sarah Waters book. She slowly reels you in. She weaves plots and themes that creep up and entangle you while you are innocently following her characters. They go about their shadowy business and by the time you raise your head from the page to take a breath, you're hooked (Viv Albertine Telegraph)
Masterly . . . delightful . . . tremendously vivid . . . Waters is a cracking storyteller (Tatler)
One of our best novelists . . . sooner or later, she's going to be given the Booker (Matt Thorne Independent on Sunday)
The extraordinary bestselling author, who wrote three astonishing Victorian novels before moving to the 1940s with The Night Watch and The Little Stranger, now turns to the 1920s.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Waters applies her superior skills as a period writer to great effect once again in this romance thriller. Read morePublished 7 days ago by J. Ang
I really enjoyed reading The Paying Guests - a well written, compulsive read with interesting and complex characters. Highly recommendedPublished 19 days ago by JessRutt
In my humble opinion not one of her best, bit slow, bit rambley for me, finished it, but .......so soPublished 23 days ago by MikenSue
A book of two halves. The social commentary and the crime thriller. Whilst I enjoyed the read, I felt that the book was too long and would have been better if cut by a third. Read morePublished 29 days ago by S. M. Darcy
I'm a big fan of Sarah Waters but I found this book a tad too slow placed at times. It sometimes felt overly descriptive and dragged on a bit.Published 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
Good but harrowing, I love her descriptions so compelling but relentless in its narrative. It's really well written. She's very intelligent.Published 1 month ago by avidreader
Sorry really found it boring. Kept waiting for the story to start, won't put me off trying other books by this authorPublished 1 month ago by Joanne G.