Nick's Reviews > The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
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's review
Oct 21, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: gothic, man-booker
Read from March 02 to 11, 2010

"The Little Stranger" is a near perfect ghost story, even though there is hardly ever mention of the ghost. Told from the doctor's point of view, rational explanations, or at least the search for them, remain paramount throughout, even while the doctor is himself becoming involved in the haunted family's dilemma. The poltergeist-like phenomena cast a gloomy paul over the decay of the English countryhouse in the spectre of a looming 1950's suburbanism, waiting to encroach on and destroy the old British way of life. (In a way, the tale is odd in that it is the doctor who wants to hold on to the old way of life, even though he is the one most thrust into the horrid aspects of its class-consciousness, being called out into the hovels of the peasantry on a daily basis.)

Is the ghost "real"? Well, real effects certainly come about as the upper echelon of the leftovers of Edwardian British society fade away.

AS I said, the ghost story is only near to perfect -- the length of the book, over 450 pages, disturbs me. I feel I could've read "The Turn of the Screw" three times over, with its edge-of-the-seat angst and received the same "Are-the-ghosts-real?" effect in which this novel revels. But I did keep turning the pages as I delighted in the lives of these marvelous characters, attempting to hold on to sanity in the midst of their unusual, decaying societal postions.

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