Friday, June 18, 2010

'The Little Stranger’ by Sarah Waters

18 June 2010

I really enjoyed ‘The Night Watch’ by Sarah Waters (reviewed here in January 2008) so I had been looking forward to reading her latest novel ‘The Little Stranger’ and I wasn’t disappointed. From the start you feel you are in safe hands: Waters is an excellent writer who seems to be able to create historical novels that feel as if they could have been written in the relevant period. ‘The Little Stranger’ is set in Warwickshire in 1947 with the country recovering from war, still constrained by rationing, anticipating the arrival of the new National Health Service and beginning to come to terms with a world that has changed forever. It tells the story of an aristocratic family struggling to maintain a once-grand, dilapidated country house, through the first-person narration of the local doctor. And very soon we seem to be entering classic ghost-story territory. But is ‘The Little Stranger’ a ghost story? Without any of the narrative tricks of ‘The Night Watch’, Sarah Waters has constructed a novel that appears to be a simple, spooky tale but subtly manages to say much about the changing social order at a turning point in history. Deceptively straightforward, there is considerable depth below the surface and your view of what the book is really about gradually evolves without you really noticing – while you are carried briskly through 500 pages of gripping, often chilling, narrative.



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