Nov 3, 2010

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

The Little Stranger
Author:  Sarah Waters
Genre:  Literary Fiction
Publisher:  Riverhead
Date Published:  April 30th, 2009

From Goodreads:

With The Little Stranger, Waters revisits the fertile setting of Britain in the 1940s-and gives us a sinister tale of a haunted house, brimming with the rich atmosphere and psychological complexity that have become hallmarks of Waters's work.

The Little Stranger follows the strange adventures of Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. One dusty postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand 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. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more ominous 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.

Abundantly atmospheric and elegantly told, The Little Stranger is Sarah Waters's most thrilling and ambitious novel yet.


The Little Stranger is my first Sarah Waters experience, it was really a great Halloween reading pick.  Definitely subtle in it's scariness, you really had to appreciate the scene Ms. Waters was painting with her words.  She didn't jump out and say BOO, but slowly let the creepiness of the situations melt over you. 

The Little Stranger's main character is the old dilapated mansion, Hundreds Hall.  Again, the description of the mansion had your imagination picturing a ominious place.  You could sense the evil lurking in every shadow, and hallway.  Author Sarah Waters takes her time and uses her words wisely building the suspense until you must find out what's next. Hundreds Hall at it's heyday was a beautiful place but tragedy seemed to always find it's way to the house, the worse being the death of a child from an illness.  The cream of the crop reigned there, and the townspeople were fascinated with the people living there, and moreso the mansion itself.  One of the most enamored with the mansion is one of the local Doctors, Dr. Faraday, who as a kid completely fell under it's spell. 

Ms. Waters  unquestionably puts emphasis on developing her characters.  The first half of the book really is for you getting to know the characters, so that you can learn to care about them.  I loved that about The Little Stranger.  I felt like I knew all the characters personally, so much I knew about them.  I knew the faces they made when frustrated, embarassed, etc.  As Dr. Faraday starts enmeshing himself with the occupants, the Ayers, I think it is the mansion fueling his want to help the family and not so much the family itself.  As things start falling apart with the people connected with Hundreds Hall, the Little Stranger shows it's evil.

My only complaint in The Little Stranger is the ending.  Infact, the ending was open ended.  In reading some reviews I see some feel it ended as it should have, I was disappointed.  I feel you are left taking a guess, and I would rather be told by the author what she intended.
The Little Stranger is gothic historical tale that is riveting, and written brilliantly.  I am now looking forward to reading more from Sarah Waters. 


  1. I really enjoy her as an author. I read this one and Fingersmith. Both dynamic and very well written!! Great review!

  2. What a fabulous review! I'm ready to read this one!!

  3. I have this one on audio. I should pick it up.

  4. Just found you via the Hop. I'm enjoying my look around. Have a fabulous weekend!


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