Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Sunday Salon - Finally, The Little Stranger!!!

FINALLY. It only took a month, but I finished and adored Sarah Waters' novel, The Little Stranger. You might think that I wasn't wild about it since it took so darn long to read, but that was not the book's fault. In fact, I actually found myself putting off finishing it because I just didn't want it to end.

This is the story of the Ayres family and their formerly palatial estate, Hundreds Hall. England is changing as the middle class is no longer interested in being servants, tracks of homes are popping up everywhere, and the Gentry can't afford their way of lives any longer. Told by family friend, Dr. Faraday, it's really a novel about the Ayres family's undoing. Are they haunted by the disintegration of the upper crust or is the book's "little stranger" a real ghost?

I first became interested in reading The Little Stranger because I watched a video of Sarah Waters discussing it. To watch a video of Sarah Waters and hear her describe her work is enough to seduce anyone into reading. While I didn't have the same luck with Affinity (yet), I was sucked into this story from the very first page.

The narrator, Dr. Faraday, is a picture of logic and reason without being cold or calculated. He's a nice man who befriends the Ayres family quite by accident and becomes thoroughly entangled in their plight to maintain Hundreds Hall. The other Ayreses are Roderick, the only son; Caroline, the homely, stout daughter; and Mrs. Ayres, the family matriarch. In the midst of their struggle to fund their estate, odd, paranormal things begin to happen causing each family member to take a mental dive in their own way. While I can't say I liked all of the characters (Roderick, blah!), I did feel for all of them and their individual struggles. Dr. Faraday was a rock of strength and normalcy in the midst of all the Ayres madness, so it was nice that he was the center of this story.

The paranormal elements were fantastic, and there were moments that were incredibly and overwhelmingly creepy and troubling. It's a hell of a good ghost story, if we're to believe that the ghost was the problem. Or maybe it was just family madness caused by their class struggles.

Furthermore, the writing was rich and wonderful. Very much like reading The Woman in White or other classic British Gothic novels. There's also a quick Great Expectations reference that made my heart sing. Unsurprisingly. :)

I rarely meet a book that I just don't. want. to end. At all. Ever. I wanted to swim in this one for ages. To float along and be held by it. How long will it be before I find another book I love this much? I can only hope it's soon.

Rating:
Snuggle -- Skewer


Pub. Date: May 4, 2010
Publisher: Riverhead Trade
Format: Trade Paperback
ISBN-10: 1594484465

Source: A friend sent it.


28 comments:

  1. Yayyy! And now Sarah Waters needs to write another book. It's been two years. I'm ready for another book!

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  2. I really need to get around to reading this. Maybe for the RIP challenge I will read at least one Waters book.

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  3. As Kailana mentioned, this is going to be one of the books I select for the RIP Challenge. I cannot wait for it!

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  4. I've been curious about this one, and now it's going on my list. It does sound wonderful!

    And sometimes it is good to simply luxuriate in a story, savoring the language and the settings.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Here's MY SUNDAY SALON POST

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  5. I know what you mean. Thesedays, while I don't put of finishing a particular book, I do put off reading more of particular authors just so I'll have more of them to read in the years to come.

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  6. I have this on my shelf to be read. I think I've been afraid it won't be as good as so many people say! Especially as I have read some of her other books and can't remember a darn thing about them! That said, this was a really good review. I want to read The LIttle Stranger, so maybe as Kailana says, this year for RIP it will be the year. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much.

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  7. I loved The Little Stranger, partly because I love the British Gothic she draws on. I think Waters is getting better all the time.

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  8. I can't wait to read this myself. I should really try to read another Sarah Waters soon - I have only read Fingersmith.

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  9. I so agree with you, verbatim. It is a hell of a ghost story, I didn't want it to end, it reminded me of The Woman In White, and now I want to read everything Waters has written. How about you? I have Fingersmith and Night Watch already waiting on my shelf...

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  10. So far I've only read Fingersmith but I really look forward to reading more of Waters' work. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one!

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  11. Yay! So glad you loved this one. She is wonderful isn't she? I still have two more books of hers I haven't read but I know I'll be in for a treat. I wonder what she's working on now.

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  12. Jenny, she really does. Given, I have quite a bit of catching up on her writing ahead of me, but I like the idea that there's a steady stream to take advantage of.

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  13. Kailana, it's a GREAT choice for RIP. Spooky-awesome!

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  14. Natalie, I'm pretty sure you'll *heart* it!

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  15. Laurel, it is a wonderful feeling to luxuriate in a story. It hasn't happened for me in a good while, so it's always a nice surprise when it happens.

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  16. C.B., I've done that, too. I hate the idea of not having at least one more book by a favorite author to keep me going when the time is right.

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  17. Susan, it was just what I needed. Wintertime is my favorite time to hunker down and read -- gloomy days, big blanket, book I can sink my teeth into. This book made me feel like a winter reader. We had some freak rain here in Texas, gloomy couple of days, and I snuggled up and had a great time with this one.

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  18. Lavender, I don't have much to compare to, since this is my first finished Waters novel. However, if this is a sign of things to come, I CAN'T WAIT to read more.

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  19. Iris, I hear a lot of really good things about Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet. I'm looking forward to both of those.

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  20. Wooo hooo! I knew you'd love it. I just knew it! God, but I adore that book. I really need to reread it. And read more Sarah Waters, for that matter! Yippee, I'm so happy! lol :)

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  21. What a fantastic review! I'm definitely adding this one to my list of books to get right now =)

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  22. I'm so, so glad you loved it! It was one of my favorites from last year.

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  23. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed this one so much! I'm really looking forward to reading it myself.

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  24. I've hear great things about Sara Waters, but I've never read anything by her. I think I'll try this one.

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  25. *sigh* Why am I the ONLY PERSON IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD who didn't find this book spooky? I feel like such a failure.

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  26. I haven't participated in Carl's RIP in ages, so maybe I'll snag a copy of this and save it for the fall. I have a couple of Water's earlier books, and have only read one (Night Watch - very good!) and this sounds fabulous. I love a book that's impossible to put down.

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  27. I'm not surprised you liked the Stranger, and sane person has to! :)

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