The Little Stranger : by Sarah Waters

I read this book based on a review from one of the reading challenges that I am taking part in.  Without this review I probably wouldn’t have picked this book up but I liked the sound of a ghost story.

The Little Stranger is a story set post war (1940s) and told by Dr Faraday.  Dr Faraday first saw Hundreds Hall in his junior years and his mother had in fact spent a number of years there as a nursery maid.  When he again sees the hall years later it has fallen into decline and the inhabitants, the Ayres, are struggling to come to terms with the age in which they are now living.

There are a number of things that immediately strike me about this book.

Firstly it is a very well written book.  I absolutely adore the writing style.  I guess there are bits that niggled me here and there but basically these are so minor that I can’t even remember them.  I really hate to make comparisons but I’m going to break my own rules, the descriptions of the aristocratic Ayres and their family home put me in mind of Daphne Du Maurier’s writing style or perhaps of Wilkie Collins.

It is a long novel with a good deal of character building and scene setting.  I actually enjoyed all this build up as it’s beautifully written, but, if you’re expecting a more chilling read with spine tinglers on every page this may not be for you.  Personally, I felt as though I knew the people, the surroundings and the way of life.  Dr Faraday’s insecurities came across vividly, particularly in comparison with the casual confidence of the Ayres.  in terms of the ‘spookiness’ I found this to be a gradual build, more psychological than actually physical.  And, I didn’t particularly find it spine tingling, apart from a few scenes that were slightly creepy I didn’t think this novel had the hairs on the back of your neck raising ability of, say, The Woman in Black or of Rebecca for that matter.

On a more negative note I feel at a bit of a loss as to what actually did happen.  I’m not going to elaborate as I don’t want to spoil the plot but I don’t particularly understand why events started at the point they did?  Was this through the introduction of Dr Ayres to the family way of life or was it simply as a result of stress.  The other downside was the story became a little bit formulaic in that firstly, something happens to person A, then to person B, etc, etc,.  Also, I do have a good imagination so I don’t need everything spelling out but I think there is possible too much left unsaid in this book.  I don’t think you need everything laying down in black and white but there’s just something missing.

On the whole an enjoyable read, a little long in parts, and, not quite as chilling as I had hoped but a good story and very well told.

Rating B+

The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger


One Response to “The Little Stranger : by Sarah Waters”

  1. Becky the Bookette

    Hmmmm… I’m not convinced this is for me. I don’t like ghostly stories and I have had two experiences lately where I read books and didn’t “get” the ending. Great review though.

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