Between the Lines: The Little Stranger

The Dust Jacket: In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to see a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the once grand house is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its garden choked with weeds. All around, the world is changing, and the family is struggling to adjust to a society with new values and rules.

Roddie Ayres, who returned from World War II physically and emotionally wounded, is desperate to keep the house and what remains of the estate together for the sake of his mother and his sister, Caroline. Mrs. Ayres is doing her best to hold on to the gracious habits of a gentler era and Caroline seems cheerfully prepared to continue doing the work a team of servants once handled, even if it means having little chance for a life of her own beyond Hundreds.

But as Dr. Faraday becomes increasingly entwined in the Ayreses’ lives, signs of a more disturbing nature start to emerge, both within the family and in Hundreds Hall itself. And Faraday begins to wonder if they are all threatened by something more sinister than a dying way of life, something that could subsume them completely.

My Take: I really love Sarah Waters. Her books leave me with a sickened feeling in my gut. Like everything is not going to be ok. I think it’s amazing that writing can actually have a physical affect on people. It’s a sign of a good author. And this book was no exception. However, I kept waiting for that feeling of discomfort to be connected to some supernatural power. But I’d forgotten that that’s the beauty of Sarah Waters. She takes what you want to have happen, what you think will happen, and turns it on its head. Will you be able to sleep at night? Yes. Like a baby. This book isn’t going to haunt your dreams. So that’s a little disappointing. This is by no means my favourite Sarah Waters novel (I’d definitely suggest Affinity before The Little Stranger) but if you liked The Turn of the Screw, you’ll probably like The Little Stranger.

Perfect For: A rainy weekend. Scratch that. A stormy weekend. Maybe the weather will up the fear factor.

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