Friday, January 1, 2010
Review-The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters
The Little Stranger
In the years after World War II, Dr. Faraday, a country physician is called to Hundreds Hall to treat a member of the Ayers family. His visit to the once grand Georgian estate in Warwickshire is not a first, as his mother served there as a maid when he was a small boy. He recalls, in loving detail, the beauty of the residence but when he arrives he is shocked to discover that it has fallen into dire decay. Mrs. Ayers, her daughter Caroline, the aging spinster and son Roderick, the manic manager come from high social prominence and former wealth but are now struggling to maintain the estate. Their assets have diminished and the house is causing a burden financially. As days go by, Dr. Faraday becomes more than their physician and his presence is routine and familiar as he insinuates himself into the family.
Something is obviously not quite right at Hundreds Hall. When the family dog attacks a young child who is visiting, a spine chilling story with methodically crafted events without explanation ensues. Is the family going mad, is their a “taint” in their lineage or is their a ghost that walks the pink and livered colored tile?
Through the voice of Dr. Faraday the story unfolds with precise descriptive imagery that has momentum from beginning to end. Your senses witness the cadence, the meter like a song so that the rhythm of Waters’ language flows to create a visual endless drama of excitement and pleasure. You will find yourself holding your breath until the finale.
Sarah Water’s historical fiction ghost story mystery is a creepy, nail biting masterpiece that makes you a restless reader. One of my top ten for 2009, The Little Stranger is an unsettling read to savor.
Disclosure: I purchased this book from Borders Bookstore.