The Little Stranger
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The Little Stranger

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  17,799 ratings  ·  3,004 reviews
The Little Stranger follows the strange adventures of Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. One dusty postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline-its...more
Hardcover, 466 pages
Published April 30th 2009 by Riverhead Hardcover (first published January 1st 2009)
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If you are looking for a traditional horror novel, you won't find it in
The Little Stranger. This book is not a variant on The Shining that just happens to be set in post-WWII Britain: it is essentially historical fiction that happens to have a touch of the supernatural about it. And as historical fiction it is excellent. Sarah Waters evokes the atmosphere not only of another time (1947) but, for Americans at least, another place as well because in many ways The Little Stranger is a very "Britis...more
This review is going to be like one of those fridge poetry thingymabobs because I'm tired and coherency isn't a top priority of mine right now.
Here are some words and phrases that came to my mind after finishing this book, in no particular order.

Atmospheric | Subtle| DON'T LOOK THROUGH THE KEYHOLE! | Observations are almost clinical at points | Man, I need to read more of Sarah Waters' books | Passionate | Perfectly paced | Holy twisteroo, Batman | WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! | Don't go upstairs and i...more
Departing from her preferred 19th century context, as she did in her last book The Night Watch, Sarah Waters sets her latest novel in post-World War II Warwickshire and tries her hand at an Old Dark House, Haunted-Or-Is-It story in the Jamesian tradition of subtle, ambiguous psychological chillers (The Turn of the Screw, The Beast In the Jungle. But while James intuitively understood that the atmosphere of such tales depends on sustaining the unsettling mood, and so they’re best realized – and i...more
sigh. i tried to read this slowly and still finished it in two days. i suck. but i cant help it - she writes so well, and her stories are so damn compelling; the pages virtually turn themselves. but sorry, ladies, no lesbians this time. i never thought i would see the day. what else is sarah waters for, if not lesbian love?? evidently, dickensian ghost stories in postwar settings... ooooorrrr iiiiisss iiiitttt?
I was quite torn about how to rate this book and went between 2 and 3 stars. I love most of Waters' books. I loved Tipping the Velvet and Affinity was a great ghost story, but this book was like her other book Night Watch-long, drawn-out and left me wondering what the point was. Faraday, the main character is not really likeable-but that being said, neither are any of the other characters. The book ends with no real wrapping up of any details-though you are left with this feeling that the author...more
I was too busy wanting this book to be something that it wasn't, that when I realized my frustration at the narrator was Water's intent and plot strategy, I couldn't get passed my disappointment to fully enjoy what she created.

I have read similar books, which I won't mention here for fear of ruining them with the comparison, but this too may have played into my reading/opinion/frustration at The Little Stranger.

I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend this book, but if you want to read a sligh...more
Nov 26, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like horror-lite
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: thrift and a passing acquaintance with this authors other works
Unlike other goodreaders I seem to have come to this book with no great expectations. Sarah Waters is a writer whose books I have acquired in the past purely on the grounds that there are huge herds of them roaming charity shops and second hand book stores (a joy and peril of being a best seller I guess), and therefore they are easy to get hold of for next to no money. Sorry Sarah, I got all your books CHEAP! This one was £1 I think, which is good value when you think that equates to 0.001p per...more
As seen on The Readventurer

Looking back at The Little Stranger, I think I quite liked the novel as a whole, especially the ending that wrapped up the tale in a curious and deliciously ambiguous and enigmatic way.

This sort-of-ghost-story is an interesting portrayal of the downfall of an aristocratic family in post-war Britain and a deep exploration of what it means (psychologically) for such a family to witness a slow dilapidation of its once grand estate.

Sarah Waters's writing is elegant and h...more
T.D. Whittle
QLR (quick little review): This is an excellent ghostly tale of the Henry James type (see Ghost Stories, for example). Sarah Waters takes her time, letting the story unfold for us in layers, carefully and precisely. TLS features a wonderful old decaying family hall in the post-WW2 English countryside, characters of depth and complexity, and a creeping sense of dread that grips us till the end -- or, it did me. Like James, too, Waters gives the reader enough information to infer the inevitable ou...more
Oct 29, 2010 Mariel rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: The proletariat will wear corduroy, not melancholic expressions
Recommended to Mariel by: I could have flirted with her, though
Sarah Waters' The Little Stranger was an uncomfortable book to read. I really, really disliked the narrator, Faraday. I didn't want to be in his headspace at all. The kind of guy that would think a woman should be grateful he looked at her because her ankles were supposedly fat. It's dickiness like that, relentlessly. That was the whole point of this book, his views of what he's owed and placements in life, and taking everything he said at face value would rob the story of its true creepiness. I...more
One of the more enjoyable aspects of Sarah Waters' slow paced (occasionally excruciatingly so) ghost novel, "The Little Stranger," is how subtle and contemplative its frights are, rather than being necessarily immediate or shocking. The ending is cleverly done – and softly done – so much so that to hint at it might ruin the question Waters finally poses; a frustrating notion since the slower tone and pace of the novel, combined with readers' preexisting expectations for what makes a good "ghost...more
This book was really great! I chose to read it after seeing it on the TV book club and I am really glad I did. It is one of the best written books I have read in a while and the story is clever and compelling. The characters are well developed and I can see why the TV book club chose this book because it opens up theories and themes that would be great to discuss.

The story is essentially a ghost story set at Hundreds hall following the story of the Ayres family as their home and society crumble...more
All I can say is I think Erica Wagner must be a real wuss. On the jacket of this book she is quoted from her review in ' The Times ' as saying ' Waters is determined to scare the pants off her'll want to sleep with the lights on '....I so didn't. As a ghost story it ranks middling and apart from one or two moments it was fairly anodyne but as a story of loneliness and neediness and the disection of an unfulfilled and disappointed life it was excellent. The two main characters of...more
Sarah (Warning: Potentially Off-Topic)
Downton Abbey meets The Shining in a house worthy of Daphne du Maurier. A creepy, atmospheric, and puzzling ghost story. Or is it?
Jen Knox
I read other reviews that praised the depth of the characters, but I never felt engaged enough to agree. The premise was good, the details were lovely, but the story itself didn't seem fully realized and I didn't miss the characters when I closed the book. A decent read.
I don't have to enunciate the sheer brilliance that is Sarah Waters. Those who have read her already know it. Those who haven't need to get acquainted with her books which, I believe, are among the greatest literary works. The Little Stranger is my second favourite Sarah Waters novel after Fingersmith. In this book, the author deviates a lot from her previous works. Yet, her ability to awe remains the same.

Now imagine a huge gothic mansion, a possibly haunted mansion.Then imagine something walk...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I love ghost stories and this was a luscious one. Set in the 1940’s right after the war a young WREN comes back to the family manor house after her RAF brother gets badly burned and her mother needs help with his care and care of the quickly dilapidating house. They’ve even had to sell some of the vast land to stay solvent. Things for the gentry are changing quickly. They only have two servants left and the youngest one, a girl just into her teens, gets ill they call a doctor who has just arrive...more
I greatly admire Sarah Waters--two of her earlier books, Affinity, and Fingersmith, are favorites of mine not only for their beauty and historical accuracy, but also for the fact that they both had secrets which fooled me completely. Her narrative skill and love of surprise remind me of Daphne DuMaurier, although I think Waters has more significant themes in mind than DuMaurier ever did. This one is just as well written as her earlier books, but it has only a very little surprise. It is a terrib...more
Mike Staten
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is classified as a ghost story, but as a ghost story it is very unconvincing and not really very chilling; no Whistle and I'll Come To You menace here. However this is actually a really good novel which captures the zeitgeist of post war Britain in the 1940s and Waters has done her research well. The real themes are class and the decline of the landed gentry, the rise of the welfare state and the NHS.
It is less Edgar Allan Poe more Josephine Tey; it reminded me of The Franchise Affair. The...more
Lori Rader-Day
The ending of this book is so subtle and to interpretation, that I feel as though I might be getting it wrong. I hope I'm not. There's a sort of _Turning of the Screw_ element to this ghost story (Is there a ghost or isn't there? Whose point of view can you trust?) that might not be pleasing to some readers. The whole novel is a rather slow build. But if you can hang on by finding the characters interesting, you'll be rewarded with a startling sort of gothic tale. My heart was pounding...more
The Little Stranger sent chills up my spine. A beautifully written, hauntingly atmospheric and psychological thriller of a novel which I completely plan on reading again. Long? Oh yeah. But Sarah Waters is such an amazingly talented writer that this book never seemed excessively wordy. Rather, Waters took care to slowly build the story, the characters and the scenes. She is able to pack so much emotion and so much tension into the smallest detail.

Dr. Faraday, the Ayreses family and Hundreds Hall...more
I don't know why I didn't write a review of this when I read it, presumably because I didn't have time - I'll have to rectify this at some point, but would have to read the book in full again in order to do it justice. I can say that I thought it was absolutely wonderful - an automatic addition to my all-time favourites list; I'd give it six stars if I could. It seems to have divided opinion amongst other readers, and I'd love to say I understand why, but actually I don't. In my eyes The Little...more
Feb 18, 2010 Felice rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like Daphne du Maurier
Recommended to Felice by: no one
Have you ever read Sarah Waters? She's one of a handful of authors that due to my bookstore employment I feel as though I discovered. Do you have authors like that? Authors who you have followed since their first quiet book? You read that first one and fell in love with the storytelling or writing style--- something-- and started putting it into friends and customer's hands while you impatiently waited for the next book? Sarah Waters is one of those writers for me. I feel very proprietary and pr...more
It's official, Sarah Waters can do no wrong. In her farthest to date literary departure from Victorian lesbian romps, she creates an incredibly moving and engaging story of a family falling apart in a possibly haunted house. The doom and gloom and dread is this book is practically palpable at times and the writing is so engaging and flawless that I could barely put the book down. Don't dismiss this as merely a haunting story, there is so much more going on, this is a dramatic story about the pli...more
I love stories where the house becomes a character in and of itself. What I don't tend to like, though, is when said house appears to be haunted. Creepy stories ... well... they totally creep me out. :) But this book is not your average ghost story. In fact, we are not even sure IF it is a ghost story, all the way to the end. The eeriness here (and there is a lot of it) is quite subtle, often exciting the readers imagination through mere suggestion alone.

The book is set in post WWII England. At...more
I'm finding this review quite difficult to write. On the one hand I really enjoyed it, but ultimately a little part of me has come away feeling "what's the point?".

The story is narrated by Dr Faraday, the local village Doctor, in 1940's rural England. He is called to Hundreds Hall, a huge mansion with acres of land where his Mother was a nursery nurse when he was a boy and he remembers, fondly, the extravagent tea parties and fetes that the Ayres family used to throw for the village. When Dr Fa...more
K.Z. Snow

Time to eat crow. I was being a lazy (and probably stupid) reader when I began this book. Now that I've finished it, I know I must read it again to do it justice.

I realize how carefully it was conceived, with what meticulous attention to detail. The narrator, whom I'd initially dismissed as bland, is anything but (if a reader isn't lazy and/or stupid :)). The plot is full of subtle foreshadowing and telling symbols. The concluding chapters are riveting. All in all, The Little Stranger is a h...more
I'm a bit torn on what to rate this one. This was my first Sarah Waters novel, and it came very highly recommended by a friend. I found the audio and then having a weekend of knitting ahead of me, I went for it.

This book both did and did not work for me. There were things that I liked, such as the creepy moments (listening to Simon Vance's reading heightened these, I think), and the slow build-up, and the slow break-down, and the feel of the story and the feel of such a different time and place...more
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Horror Aficionados : The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters/October-November 2012 15 56 Nov 04, 2012 08:36AM  
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Sarah Waters is a British novelist. She is best known for her first novel, Tipping the Velvet, as well the novels that followed, including Affinity, Fingersmith, and The Night Watch.

Waters attended university, earning degrees in English literature. Before writing novels Waters worked as an academic, earning a doctorate and teaching. Waters went directly from her doctoral thesis to her first novel....more
More about Sarah Waters...
Fingersmith Tipping the Velvet Affinity The Night Watch Dancing with Mr. Darcy: Stories Inspired by Jane Austen and Chawton House

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“And perhaps there is a limit to the grieving that the human heart can do. As when one adds salt to a tumbler of water, there comes a point where simply no more will be absorbed.” 372 likes
“I though it with an almost giddy feeling, as if my life were twisting round its head to snap at its own tail.” 2 likes
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