What we're reading
Sarah Waters - The Little Stranger...any opinions?
BeckyBendyLegs · 10/08/2009 22:15
I'm reading this now. This is the second Sarah Waters book I've read (Fingersmith being the other one - which I thought was brilliant). I can't put it down - I just want to find out what is going to happen and where the story is going! At least I wouldn't be able to put it down if life didn't keep getting in the way. Anyone else reading this or read it?
NancysGarden · 10/08/2009 22:27
have read fingersmith and tipping the velvet. Loved TVT, fingersmith was pretty good too. Not tried litte stranger. Is it better tahn fingersmith? Got a book token, trying to decide on suspsicions of Mr Whicher or something else...
LastTrainToNowhere · 11/08/2009 19:30
Read Little Stranger a while ago. It's good, but nowhere near Fingersmith or Tipping The Velvet (her best works imo). The ending of Little Stranger is a bit em, meh
Really good spooky bits though, I was scared silly at some parts
BeckyBendyLegs · 13/08/2009 09:41
Ohhh I hope the ending isn't going to be 'meh'. I've got 200 pages to go yet but I am really enjoying it so far - I think she just writes so brilliantly - it flows so smoothly. I loved Fingersmith too. I haven't read TTV or any of her others. TTV has been on my amazon wish list for ages. Perhaps I should just buy it and have done with it!
artifarti · 13/08/2009 19:30
Another who thought the ending was 'meh', I'm afraid. Read The Night Watch afterwards, which I enjoyed.
TheMoistWorldOfSeptimusQuench · 15/08/2009 23:51
I got to the end and had very mixed feelings. The most predominant one being that Sarah Waters is just brilliant.
So, was it a spook, was it Betty? Was it the labour government?
My feeling was that it was all about a quirk in Faraday's mental health and problems with class, ultimately. In the run up to the inquest, I thought that Faraday was going to be accused of Caroline's murder: He had a motive. Waters made a point of noting that he'd kept the Hundreds Hall keys with him, that he'd spent the night of the proposed wedding (and death of Caroline) alone, apparently in his car, and therefore with no alibi (notwithstanding a spooky dream about drifting up to her). He had a massive chip on his shoulder about his class and attempted social mobility. Part of his wanting Caroline was to possess Hundreds itself, to become part of their world 'properly'(just like he'd stolen the acorn as a child, wanting to possess part of their world). At the end, once he'd packed Rod off to the the looney bin, and Mrs. Ayres and Caroline were out of the way, he was still padding around Hundreds, looking after it, trying to possess it. Could the power that took over the house be his own jealousy and inadequacy and longing?
Also, Caroline's last word was "you!". And he could visualise her so well, in her last moments. Was it him that she saw?
Maria2007 · 17/08/2009 10:27
I actually really loved the book. Haven't read anything else by Sarah Waters (but I do have some of her other books & am looking forward to reading them soon). I loved Waters' writing style; I also loved the subject matter of the book- particularly the class issue, the decline of a particular way of living, and the decline of the house. I thought Faraday certainly had 'something' to do with the ending (don't want to give too much away though). It was left for us to decide, at the end, what happened. In that way, I think the ending wasn't 'meh' at all, I think it was a good ending for this particular book. The book wasn't a whodunit in which case we would have liked to have a clear answer.... it was a more a spooky, psychological....well, something (wanted to say 'thriller' but it wasn't really).
As I said, I actually loved it. Highly recommend it. Do you know it's on the Booker prize shortlist this year?
BeckyBendyLegs · 19/08/2009 07:30
I've just finished now! I didn't think the ending was 'meh' at all. I really like it and it seemed obvious what the 'spook' was to me esp reading the very last sentence of the book.
Maria2007 · 19/08/2009 22:58
Was it really that obvious Becky? Do tell, I'm now intrigued, as I think the ending was completely open for anyone to interpret as they please.
sylvev · 23/08/2009 20:22
I read this on holiday and was spellbound! The descriptions of the house, characters were fabulous. I too loved the ending, ambiguous but left me thinking for days about it! I also read Affinity and loved this too. Haven't read the others, but might just do so now.
BeckyBendyLegs · 25/08/2009 18:48
SPOILER ALERT FOR ANYONE WHO HASN'T FINISHED!
Perhaps this is just my interpretation but I couldn't think of any alternative... I'd like to know what others think!
I thought it was Farady who had caused it all to happen in some weird psychological kenetic way. Also how reliable was he as a narrator? Has anyone read 'The Good Soldier'? It reminded me a bit of that, in that you have to be careful how much you read is 'fact' and how much is in the narrator's head. We only saw the story through his eyes and towards the end he was so creepy about Caroline and the house it made me shiver. He was unhealthily attached to the house. I reckon, even if he didn't realise it himself, he was trying to get Caroline and the house to himself and then when she rejected him and took all chances of getting the house away he 'killed' her in some way whether when sleep walking or psychically (can't spell).
Maria2007 · 25/08/2009 19:08
Yes...could be that Faraday caused all of it to happen (or at least was involved in some way). In fact, we discussed this at our book group & everyone agreed that Faraday was spooky, an unreliable narrator, and may have had something to do with the whole thing. However, this is completely left unclear at the end isn't it... Even if it was him involved with everything, what was it that he was doing? That's the bit that's left unclear...
BeckyBendyLegs · 25/08/2009 19:20
I agree, it isn't clear - I just couldn't work it out any other way in my head. I'd like to see how other people saw it, if they saw it differently. I miss belonging to a book group! This would be a great book group book!
Maria2007 · 25/08/2009 19:27
if you live in london you can join ours (it started a couple of months ago & basically is made up of MNers).
BeckyBendyLegs · 25/08/2009 20:16
Sadly not - Shrewsbury - a bit of a commute from here. Thanks for the offer though, very kind of you We moved here just a year ago and I haven't found any fellow bookworms yet. I used to belong to a book group with people from work and I loved it! It made me read loads of different stuff I wouldn't normally read and was a great excuse for a get-together.
YouLukaPrettyAmazing · 27/08/2009 12:27
I loved the ending and didn't find it meh at all. Was it really ambiguous or just a little more complicated than at first sight??
In the middle of Affinity now which I'm also enjoying.
llareggub · 27/08/2009 12:28
Have skimmed the thread as I am waiting for my copy to be delivered. It is set where I live so I am hoping to recognise some places.
hifi · 27/08/2009 13:19
in the middle of fingersmith, fab. just finished the night watch which was also good.
Ninjacat · 31/08/2009 12:46
BBL my reading of it was quite similar to yours. Faraday the embodyment of the rising of the middle classes seeks to possess a declining way of life and in so ding destroys it all together. Even at the end he possesses the house but he can never truly reach that status.
There's also the idea that Modernity (or the council houses) are litrally (sp?) encroaching into the gentries land reducing the physical and metaphysical space between the classes.
Yes I would say the ending made it quite clear he was an embodyment of the families decline. For me Faraday was definitly the little stranger from the moment he snuck through the curtain as a young boy, pushing his place and class beyond that barrier.
Maria2007 · 01/09/2009 06:31
Ninjacat: very true about the rising middle classes versus the declining way of life. At our book group this was exactly the aspect we focused on. And yes, very true too that Faraday was essentially the 'little stranger'. Perhaps the poltergeist (or whatever it was) was a metaphor and Faraday was the real issue.
littlepollyflinders · 01/09/2009 14:00
The thing that bothered me was it being so unclear what the hell all that was about.
I was disappointed because I was expecting a ghost story - and if you look at the acknowledgments S Waters had done a lot of research into poltergeist activity - so to then leave it as if 'might have been might not have been' was really infuriating.
However well that whole 'unreliable narrator' thing works, my personal feeling is that the author made a bad choice in using it. We were never going to get a definitive answer from his point of view and there simply wasn't enough evidence for us to completely dismiss his version.
Maria2007 · 02/09/2009 08:06
Littlepollyflinders: but maybe that was exactly the point? (that we were never going to get a definitive answer). I know it's frustrating, but I really think S. Waters left it open on purpose.
littlepollyflinders · 02/09/2009 10:36
Ah Maria - you've opened opened up can of worms there re why we read, what we want from the experience, how narrative affects us etc etc.
Which begs the question; what does S Waters achieve by leaving (some of) her readers frustrated/dissatisfied?
Maria2007 · 02/09/2009 10:48
I suppose each of us wants different things from reading. And also different things from different books. And also- different things at different times in our lives! I could go on of course. So there's no definitive answer is there. Some people love open endings. Others hate them. Also: sometimes open endings are done well (and I feel in this book the open ending was done relatively well). Other times open endings are done appalingly.
I think what she she tries to achieve by leaving us unsatisfied is to create the question about the existence or non-existence of ghosts. I don't think she herself is convinced about ghosts (I have to admit I heard her say this on Woman's hour!) She would like to believe ghosts exist, on some level, and she clearly loves ghost stories. But on another level she would hate it if ghosts exist, ifswIm. So she leaves it open for us to decide. Fine by me.
What did frustrate me, though, if one thing did, is this: if we accept the version that Faraday was the 'little stranger' then how exactly did he do the things he did? I'm not just talking about the ending, but about all the occurences in the book. I suppose the fact that he's an unreliable narrator makes this question irrelevant: he could simply have not told us half of what happened, or his involvement in it. But in any case, that was the slightly frustrating thing for me.
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