The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters
One postwar English summer Dr. Faraday is called to Hundreds Hall, a once palatial countryside estate, to see to a colleague’s patient. He’s shocked to see the changes in the house where his mother once worked as a maid; it’s falling to pieces, and it’s all the Ayres family can do to keep the house and themselves going. As Dr. Faraday becomes more involved in the lonely family’s life, he starts to see that something more than mildew and decay is amiss at the Hundreds–but is it some kind of stress-related hysteria, or is there a more otherworldly cause?
I’ve adored you as a writer of slightly pulpy lesbian romance–how could I not?–but a ghost story with no clear lesbians at all, from a man’s point of view, is something new entirely. Not to say that you can’t write about straight people–by all means, do, because your prose is so incredibly lush that I’d gladly read anything you write, no matter what the subject matter. Of course, it also happens that I love creepy ghost stories, and at it’s heart, that’s what The Little Stranger is. It’s a little bit like The Haunting of Hill House in its feel, but not as persistently creepy; though the ghost story, if it is a ghost at all, is the defining factor, it’s also a story about postwar struggle, about class, and about romantic confusion. I found it entirely engrossing. Your ability to characterize people so clearly, and with such unexpected depth, is fantastic, and your choice of narrator is, I think, ideal for the telling of this particular tale. You go, girl–five stars.