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?
Squitten · 03/09/2009 19:11
I loved this book. I've read all of Sarah Waters' stuff and I think she's one of the only authors I have come across who is consistently excellent.
I enjoyed the way that she leaves it open at the end. I feel it would have marred the book to go either down the "Woo - scary ghost episode" or "Woo - big reveal of the psycho" - both of those are far too trite.
itsalwaysthequietones · 03/09/2009 19:31
Joining this thread late but really torn about 'The Little Stranger' - I loved Fingersmith but in retrospect loved Night Watch even more. I thought the first half of this was brilliant but felt it didn't maintain the momentum in the second half. Yes, was a bit scary/tense in bits but actually I found myself not really caring too much what happened by the end of it, which I was really surprised at. FWIW, agree with those who thought Faraday an unreliable narrator, definitely stalker profile with respect to both the family and the house. Still, for all that criticism I did enjoy it just not as much as I'd expected to.
auntyitaly · 04/09/2009 13:50
Oooh, I am so delighted Becky. I thought it was blindingly obvious who TLS was from about halfway through. So the ending was, for me, a touch underwhelming.
One other thing about the book - has anyone noticed how SW's verbal tics and tricks in her earlier work - the brilliance of the Victorian sex trade slang in Tipping the Velvet, the awfully perfect lingo in wartime Nightwatch - completely vanish in this book? There's no linguistic interest at all, or even attempt to make the words fit the period. Sad.
Worse, all the Ayres talk like Surbiton folk of the 1960s. Every bit of their dialogue is filled with class clangers. Mrs Ayres asks for "a sherry", refers to her past as "having relationships", and talks about how her feet hurt. Now, I'm not pointing this out for snob reasons, but the gentry - then and now - really don't speak or behave like that. As even, say, a documentary on Channel 4 would bring to your attention. Makes you wonder if she made up the Victorian and WWI Istuff.
llareggub · 06/09/2009 09:40
I'm going to see a dialogue between Sarah Waters and Andrew Davies next month, and they will be discussing TLS. I finished the book last night and agree that Faraday is The Little Stranger.
I will report back after the event if you like?
theyoungvisiter · 07/09/2009 14:00
joining this late as I've only just finished the book and didn't want to read the spoilers!
I too thought Faraday was probably the little stranger. Either he was a Jekyll narrator and the little stranger was Hyde, operating through his unconscious, or he psychically "made" things happen, or both.
I thought it was very significant that all the events worked towards him getting what he really wanted - the Hall for himself. And he started the destruction of course, by chipping off the acorn.
But there's also an argument for saying that the little stranger is Sukey (or the house itself or something else) and that Faraday's attitude at the end is just the house bending and twisting him - in the same way that it used Rod's and Mrs Ayres' weaknesses to send them mad. It's supposed to be deliberately vague, I think, like The Turn of the Screw.
I loved it btw! I thought she'd got a lot better and more confident in her writing and characterisation.
elkiedee · 09/09/2009 00:37
I'm still reading it but am nearly at the end and have already skipped ahead so knew about the content of the spoilers.
I'm on page 462 at a point in the book where my view of the main character completely changes. I don't like the book as much as I enjoyed Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith, or the Night Watch - I still have to read Affinity which for some reason I've not yet got round to. I think that's perhaps not a reflection on the author or her writing, but I don't find the main character or the setting as compelling somehow. But she's taken a risk in creating a narrator very different from the protagonists in her previous books, and I think really good writers shouldn't just keep writing the same book over and over. It's certainly a thought provoking novel.
Maria2007 · 11/09/2009 18:22
Theyoungvisiter, great comments, I do like your scenario that Faraday was a victim of the 'little stranger', and not the little stranger himself. Very possible. I loved the book too, btw Yes, she's made the booker shortlist... lets see if she wins it.
theyoungvisiter · 11/09/2009 19:41
I don't think she'll win. I think it'll be Byatt or Mantell, but what do I know?!
BeckyBendyLegs · 12/09/2009 21:28
Ooooh I love all this debate! I miss this sort of thing. I love books with open endings - keeps you guessing. I'm now reading Affinity - another spooky, what's-it-all-about book. Sarah Waters is such a great story teller, don't you think?
YouLukaStunning · 14/09/2009 19:26
I loved Affinity too BBL. I agree she is great at capturing and engaging you in her stories and the lives of her characters. I also like the uncertainty of her stories and love to be kept guessing
TheFoosa · 19/09/2009 09:57
I thought it was excellent - havn't read any other SW but look forward to it now
i thought Faraday was the little stranger, he didn't fit anywhere, had lost his working class roots, but didn't belong to the gentry
flyingcloud · 21/09/2009 13:19
Just finished it and like a previous poster, I reached a point where I didn't care anymore and started skimming. I liked the themes and the vagueness of who TLS might be (agree that I thought it was Faraday) but I wasn't ever gripped by it - I was waiting for it to become scary, but it never did which disappointed me. It's a polished book, but ultimately disappointed me.
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