Tatiana's Reviews > The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
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's review
Sep 28, 2010

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bookshelves: booker, 2010
Read from December 16 to 22, 2010

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 her descriptions of both decaying Hundreds Hall and its defeated inhabitants are haunting and atmospheric. And the narrator, Dr. Faraday, the over-involved spectator, is quite an amusing specimen to watch and get to know.

My main problem is, though, why couldn't this book be a couple of hundred pages shorter? I couldn't help myself wishing Daphne du Maurier had written it in half the page count. As much as I enjoyed Waters' writing, I felt the pacing at times was excruciatingly slow. I am glad I decided to listen to the audio version of this novel, because, truth be told, I don't think I have enough stamina for such a slow-moving, atmosphere- rather than plot-oriented story. The audio allowed me to keep up with the narration easily (in reality, not much happens in this novel), while not missing out on much during the times I found my mind drifting away from the story.

It is amazing how different The Little Stranger is from Sarah Waters's debut novel. Even though both novels are very worthy creations, I personally much prefer the author's romp-y and raunchy Tipping the Velvet. For now, I am resolved to read adventurous Fingersmith, but stay away from grim and draggy (allegedly) Affinity and The Night Watch.
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Reading Progress

12/16/2010 page 3
12/21/2010 page 9
69.0% "It's looooong and slooow"
08/18/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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Megan Just how I felt about Affinity ~ but I'm glad I stuck it out. Despite the slow pacing, I did enjoy both the story & Waters' writing.

Tatiana Same here. The writing is great, but I feel like the story could have been told in half the number of pages.

Megan It's a shame. I would love to read more of Waters books, but considering the ridiculous number on my TBR list, taking a few weeks to read one novel is a luxury I can't afford, lol

Tatiana Let me just say, Tipping the Velvet was a much faster read. And much more fun.

message 5: by Megan (last edited Dec 21, 2010 01:06PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Megan Hmmm... I saw it awhile back & considered it, but am not always a fan of Victorian novles. Perhaps I'll give it a go.

Does it have lengthy descriptive passages or "hysterical" and emotional women? That is what slowed down Affinity for me.

Megan I just looked up the description for The Little Stranger, and only one of my friends has read it. Her review was brief, but here is how she ended it, "Waters gets pity points for freaking me out for at least 3/4 of the book. Don't make your book club read it with you, they will come after you with pitchforks." Now I'm curious to read it & see what she is talking about :)

Tatiana No, it's more about prostitution, music halls and lesbian life style. Quite raunchy actually. Although the beginning was a bit slow.

Tatiana I like this review:)

message 9: by Heather (new)

Heather You just nailed why I keep starting and stopping her book Night Watch. The pacing is horendous.

Tatiana I've heard exactly the same about her Affinity. It seems to be her signature style.

Libby I also found it slow at the beginning but I am glad I read it. Hopefully the book club won't come after our hostess with pitchforks!! : ) Although I found it to have all the elements of a gothic novel I didn't find it very 'gothic-ish'. Overall, I am glad I read it but I don't think I will go out of my way to read her others. Too many books in my TBR pile!!

Megan You know, finally finished this one and the pacing & length really didn't bother me too much. Like you, I doubt I would have had the stamina for the print version but even so... I'm not sure where this could have been edited. The sleepy pace helped set the tone and slow pace of life at Hundreds so very well, and somehow adds to the creepiness of the story. (view spoiler) I'm officially a Sarah Waters fangirl :)

Tatiana LOL. I am a big fan of hers too. In fact, talking about her books makes me want to read some more of hers. Although I feel like I have already read her best. Only Affinity and The Night Watch are left.

In my mind, all the badness is (view spoiler).

message 14: by Megan (last edited Oct 10, 2011 09:59AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Megan Affinity was really good, but after this one, I'm thinking I would have enjoyed it more on audio. IMO the slow pace is tolerable that way. But you know, even though this is ridiculously long, I don't feel that it really meandered or went off track the way so many lengthy novels can. I just really enjoy Waters voice & her writing style.
The ending definitely makes me want to read this again and (view spoiler)

Tatiana These days I won't even approach a long adult book if I don't have the audio to help me out. I'll try to see if my library has either of these titles.

(view spoiler).

It is so weird, by the thing I remember the best about Caroline is her unshaven legs:)

Megan lol, forgot about those hairy legs! I would love to know how Waters pictures her. I always think of women being so glamorous back then, so I wonder if Caroline's plainness is due to a lack of attention to hair, makeup, clothes ~ of if she is really unattractive.

So, do you think (view spoiler)

Tatiana Hard to tell, I couldn't quite understand why Faraday would be attracted to her the way she was described. He must have really liked that house:)

Or maybe she was (view spoiler)

(view spoiler)

Robert Spencer I think you'll much prefer Fingersmith to this. It's a bit of a rollicker

message 19: by Dana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dana Delamar My favorites by her are Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith. Both are excellent. Affinity has its moments, as does The Night Watch. I'd love see her go back to Victorian times, because her first two books were amazingly good.

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