The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters

little strangerREAD FOR BOOKCLUB

Chosen by Jo

A 2009 gothic novel set in 1940s England. The local doctor, Dr Faraday makes friends with an old gentry family of declining fortunes who live in a dilapidated and haunted mansion.

❖ The Little Stranger is a ghost story set in a dilapidated mansion named Hundreds Hall in Warwickshire, England in the 1940s. It features a country doctor who makes friends with an old gentry family of declining fortunes who own the old estate that is crumbling around them.

Dr Faraday remembers the significant home from his boyhood and is shocked at its state some 30 years later. Though attending in a professional manner at first, to treat one of the family member’s old war injury, the doctor soon becomes entwined in the family’s plight and the mysterious goings on.

The book’s post war setting provides the opportunity to delve into many societal interactions that make for great reading: class systems, repression, and transitionary gender roles, however it also laments the decline of the British way of life.

Melding historical fiction and supernatural genres encourages readers to expect the unexpected. The use of a well to do doctor gives credit to the narration however his obsession with the house makes him slightly unreliable and indeed the whole book is built on uncertainty. The doctor’s scientific mind tells him there must be a reasonable explanation but house hold members believe they are being haunted by some sort of supernatural presence.

It was simply that, in admiring the house, I wanted to possess a piece of it — or rather, as if the admiration itself, which I suspected a more ordinary child would not have felt, entitled me to it.

❖ “A very cleverly written ghost story … but is it a ghost story? Nothing is as it seems and with the tension gradually building between the two main characters and the strange happenings at the mansion, you are in for a stimulating read. One of my favourites, and I loved the re-read.” – Jo

❖ “The re-read is even more riveting than the first and I thought I might pick up a little more about the goings-on, but alas. In saying that, I love how everything is not completely spelled out. The story is engrossing and characters troubled but charismatic and this all makes for a wonderful read.” – Rachel

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Published 2009
Virago
510 pages

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