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Read this next: The Little Stranger

June 16, 2010

I finished Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger last night with a great mix of satisfaction and disappointment (that it was over). I’m happy to report a perfect reading experience with the book. First, anticipation. I’d been wanting to read it since I’d heard about it months ago when it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and finally got a chance to read it. It was everything I’d hoped it would be.

The story takes place in post-WWII England and features an up-and-coming doctor, the socially elite Ayres family, and their once-magnificent, now dilapidated manor. Yes, this is a gothic novel and yes, the house – named Hundreds – is “bad”. As the Ayres struggle to survive in a society where their wealth and name are no longer enough, are they

“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.”

The book isn’t short (my paperback is exactly 500 pages) but the pacing is just right. The story drew me in immediately and was gripping enough that I could read it for long stretches at a time, but not such a cliff-hanger that I could also put it down and look forward to picking it up again later. These last few nights I’d read for about 15 minutes before bed, partly because of a lack of time, but also to draw the story out over a number of final days and make the story last longer.

The Little Stranger has been called a ghost story, but it’s also a story about social status, an upper class in decline and a changing way of life, and unconscious and powerful desires, with a thrilling psychological layer that’s just the icing on the cake. 

My book has this red cover – and I love the font and the silhouette – but I like how this other cover captures the ominousness and fading grandeur of Hundreds Hall.

If you like gothic novels, mysteries, ghost stories, psychological thrillers, then I strongly encourage you to give The Little Stranger a try.

And if you liked The Little Stranger and are looking for something similar, you’ll probably like:

Have you read it? Did you love it? If you have suggestions for similar (and, must I add, really good) books, send them my way!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2010 1:21 pm

    I got my copy from the library it had the red cover yours has which I must admit I much prefer, as it reminds me of old fashioned covers, the other one is a little too clean cut for me. I totally agree that while The Little Stranger was a meaty sized book the pace was very good and I didn’t feel like I’d struggled to read that much.

    I’m quite a big fan of psychological/chilling/ghost stories. I have read The Turn of the Screw and it gave me proper goosebumps, brilliant. Have you read any of Shirley Jackson’s books or Daphne du Maurier?

    • June 17, 2010 9:10 pm

      I love the couple Daphne du Maurier books I’ve read (and need to check out her other ones). I haven’t read any of Shirley Jackson so I’ll check her out – thanks!

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