Waters' darkly atmospheric fifth novel is set at a decaying mansion in postwar England. The narrator, Dr. Faraday, first visited Hundreds Hall as a child, when his mother, a servant at the great manor, brought him there for a party. Nearly three decades later, he returns on a professional call and soon finds himself growing close to the owners: the widowed Mrs. Ayers, who has never gotten over the death of her oldest daughter, and her two adult children, Caroline and Roderick. Faraday treats Roderick's war injury but watches helplessly as the young man, who is convinced there is an evil presence in the house, slides into madness. After a devastating incident involving a young neighbor, Faraday finds he has no choice but to commit Roderick to a mental institution. Faraday finally faces the feelings he's developed for Caroline, but the malevolent force shadowing Hundreds Hall hasn't finished with the Ayers family yet. An eerie ghost story mixed with piercing class commentary, Waters' latest is downright haunting. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
Few authors do dread as well as Waters (The Night Watch). Her latest novel is a ghost story with elements of both The Fall of the House of Usher and Brideshead Revisited. In post-World War II Britain, the financially struggling Dr. Faraday is called to Hundreds Hall, home of the upper-class Ayreses, now fallen on hard times. Ostensibly there to treat Roderick Ayres for a war injury, Faraday soon sees signs of mental decline—first in Roderick and later in his mother, Mrs. Ayres. Waters builds the suspense slowly, with the skeptical Faraday refusing to accept the explanations of Roderick or of the maid Betty, who believe that there is a supernatural presence in the house. Meanwhile, Faraday becomes enamored of Roderick's sister Caroline and begins to dream of building a family within the confines of the ruined Hundreds Hall. This spooky, satisfying read has the added pleasure of effectively detailing postwar village life, with its rationing, social strictures, and gossip, all on the edge of Britain's massive change to a social state. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/08.]—Devon Thomas, Chelsea, MI
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Publishers Weekly Reviews
Waters (The Night Watch) reflects on the collapse of the British class system after WWII in a stunning haunted house tale whose ghosts are as horrifying as any in Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House. Doctor Faraday, a lonely bachelor, first visited Hundreds Hall, where his mother once worked as a parlor maid, at age 10 in 1919. When Faraday returns 30 years later to treat a servant, he becomes obsessed with Hundreds's elegant owner, Mrs. Ayres; her 24-year-old son, Roderick, an RAF airman wounded during the war who now oversees the family farm; and her slightly older daughter, Caroline, considered a "natural spinster" by the locals, for whom the doctor develops a particular fondness. Supernatural trouble kicks in after Caroline's mild-mannered black Lab, Gyp, attacks a visiting child. A damaging fire, a suicide and worse follow. Faraday, one of literature's more unreliable narrators, carries the reader swiftly along to the devastating conclusion. (May)
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After being summoned to treat a patient at dilapidated Hundreds Hall, Dr. Faraday finds himself becoming entangled in the lives of the owners, the Ayres family, and the supernatural presences in the house. - (Baker & Taylor)
A chilling and vividly rendered ghost story set in postwar Britain, by the bestselling and award-winning author of The Night Watch and Fingersmith.
Sarah Waters's trilogy of Victorian novels Tipping the Velvet, Affinity, and Fingersmith earned her legions of fans around the world, a number of awards, and a reputation as one of the most gifted of today's historical novelists. With her most recent novel, The Night Watch, Waters made a "flawless" (The Washington Post) historical leap to the 1940s and delivered a tender and intricate novel of relationships that garnered the most widespread acclaim of her career. Now, in The Little Stranger, she returns to the fertile setting of Britain in the 1940s - and brings us a sinister tale of a haunted house that brims with the rich atmosphere and psychological complexity that have become hallmarks of her work.
One dusty postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country physician, is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. The residence of the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the once impressive and handsome Georgian house is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners - mother, son, and daughter - are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own.
But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his. - (Blackwell North Amer)
"The #1 book of 2009...Several sleepless nights are guaranteed."Stephen King,Entertainment Weekly
One postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country physician, is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once impressive and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its ownersmother, son, and daughterare struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become intimately entwined with his.
- (Penguin Putnam