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)
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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It started off fairly promisingly, beautifully described in vivid detail, Ms Waters' doesn't disappoint in the detail. The problem is the boring characters, the tame plot, the lack of suspense. There wasnt one character that I liked or had any empathy for and by the end of it all I feel let down because I know that Sarah Waters has a huge talent, this novel could have been so much more.
Sometimes less is more - a more exciting plot and colourful characters would have been better.
I love books that are literally unputdownable, when all I want to do is get home and pick up the book and lose myself in an exciting plot. This novel had the opposite effect for me, I really struggled to pick it up and finish it.
Waters gets the setting, mood, speech and social concerns, all down pat, and it is with a start when one remembers that this novel was published as recently as 2014. This is clearly a woman's novel, and I mean that in no disparaging sense, because the main focus is on the two women. The friendship between Frances and Lilian Barber soon blossoms into something a lot more intimate, even as she gets more involved in the Barber's lives, while having an ambivalent relationship with Lenny, Lilian's husband.
It is to Waters's credit that her nuanced writing makes the transition between romance to thriller midway through the novel, while surprising, nonetheless smooth and completely believable. However, the psychological suspense that surrounds Lilian and Frances does get a little repetitive and long drawn, even though it was a good way of getting under the skin of her two female leads.
Not a perfect novel, but the exemplary prose sets it apart from the rest of pack.
I was really looking forward to reading this novel but I am about half way through and I am totally bored. There's nothing new here - Waters has churned out more of the same old stuff and it's all become very dull and predictable.
Yes, it's beautifully written in places but it's extremely repetitive, much of the plot focusses on much the same issues that are in Waters' other novels, the characters are shallow and grubby stereotypes and I am tired, tired, tired of the endless voyeuristic descriptions of Lil.
'Fingersmith' is brilliant and is one of my top ten novels ever, but sadly in this novel, the dull characters,the tedious descriptions of Lil's body and Frances' repressed feelings do nothing for me and I'm never going to finish reading it. Life's too short.
"Oh Francis" "oh Lilian" "oh mother" "oh Lenny" - please find another way for your characters to express themselves!!
Was a fan of Walters but this'll be the last book for me of hers....bit bored of the format and the incessant need to inject smutty graphic content into otherwise good storylines.