The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters

The Fingersmith is my second favourite book of all time (after A Fine Balance), and so I was so excited about the release of Sarah Water’s new book that I ordered a copy from America, just so I could read it a few weeks before it’s UK release.

The Little Stranger is a Gothic, ghost story set in rural Warwickshire just after WWII. The central character is Dr. Faraday, who one day is called to  a crumbling mansion to treat a maid who is so scared by things she has seen in the house that she wants to leave. Dr. Faraday is intrigued, by both the house and the Ayres family who live there, that he makes an effort to return to Hundreds Hall as often as he can. Increasingly strange events occur in the house, frightening and mystifying everyone who witnesses them.

The Little Stranger is very different to Fingersmith in both the style of writing, and plot development. The plot was linear, very easy to follow and structured like a fast-paced  thriller. The quality of  Sarah Water’s writing is still high, but I think that this book will be much more accessible to the general public, and slightly disappointing to her old fans. The Little Stranger has much more in common with books like The Thirteenth Tale or The Seance, both of which I really enjoyed reading too, but don’t require as much thought as Water’s earlier books.

I was slightly disappointed with the ending, as although it wasn’t predictable, it didn’t have any of the clever plot twists that she is famous for. I shouldn’t really complain though, as the book had me captivated throughout . All the characters were well developed, and the storyline was reasonably plausible. It was a gripping, spooky tale – perfect for a cold, dark Autumn night.



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  1. Sandy says:

    I love stories like this…I’m definitely writing this one down!

  2. Deanna says:

    This book sounds interesting. I am going to put it into my TBR list.

  3. Diane says:

    I enjoyed The Fingersmith and look forward to this book as well; great review.

  4. Nymeth says:

    Even if not as good as her early work, it definitely still sounds very enjoyable. I plan to start Affinity soon – can’t wait.

  5. raidergirl3 says:

    Looks good! I’m looking forward to Fingersmith, as A Fine Balance is also one of my favorite books, too.
    Night Watch is not linear, but told in reverse, and is set around the war. It seems like Waters can write in many styles and all her books are different.

  6. Jackie says:

    Sarah Waters is just showing how skillful she is by writing in so many different styles. I hope that this book will bring her a new audience, and hopefully a few of them will be tempted to try her earlier books.

    I look forward to reading the rest of her books soon.

  7. claire says:

    I’m definitely putting this on my wishlist. I really enjoyed The Thirteenth Tale. Sometimes it’s nice to relax with those kinds of easy reads, but still well-written.

  8. Steph says:

    I haven’t read any Sarah Waters (yet), but the two books you compare this to are ones that I’ve enjoyed or heard good things about and think I would like. I actually think this might be the Waters book I’d like to start with!

  9. Beth F says:

    I also haven’t read Sarah Waters yet. But anything that is compared to Thirteenth Tale has my attention! Nice review.

  10. Jackie says:

    I actually think this is better than the Thirteenth Tale – so you are in for a treat!

  11. Jackie says:

    Candy – I thought three days to read this was quite slow!
    I’ve done a lot of reading today though – so I’ve got a few more reviews lined up for the next few days!

  12. Karen says:

    This still sounds great Jackie even if it isn’t written in Waters’ usual style. I am almost finished Fingersmith (and I have loved it)but I must admit I have put it on hold for a while as it was getting a little scary for me!!

  13. Teddy says:

    Wonderful review! I haven’t read Fingersmith yet but it is on my TBR and I do own a copy. I loved A Fine Balance too. I still haunts me after all these years.

  14. Karen – If you thought Fingersmith was scary then you might want to avoid The Little Stranger!

    Teddy – It is amazing how long lasting A Fine Balance is – I think that is one of the main reasons it is my favourite book.

  15. megan says:

    I don’t know how I missed this review – it must have been posted while I was away :)

    I’ve only read the Night Watch, but I am desperate to read this one, especially the more I hear it’s similar to the Thirteenth Tale, which I adored. I’m on a book buying ban this year, but my library is so slow I just might have to make an exception. I love spooky gothic tales!

  16. Jackie says:

    Megan – If you love spooky tales, then you’ll love this one! It is not that gothic though – if you’re after a good gothis tale then I recommend The Seance.

  17. Faith says:

    I am so looking forward to reading Sarah’s newest book. It sounds brill.
    I have read all of her others, they are fantastic. For anyone who has not read them, you are missing out…………

  18. Faith says:

    Jackie, who wrote A Fine Balance ??

  19. Jackie says:

    Faith – Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog!

    A Fine Balance is written by Rohinton Mistry. It is set in India, and is amazing! I hope you find time to read it, and if you do, please report back on how much you loved it!

  20. Linda says:

    This was out last bookclub choice. I enjoyed it but it wasn’t very popular with quite a few of the other members. However there was a lot of discussion about the ending. I read the book and thought the Doctor was the one who murdered Caroline and was the cause of much the happenings in the book. Am I wrong?

    1. Jackie says:

      Linda, I think the ending is fairly ambiguous so you can draw your own conclusions. The last sentence of the book does seem to support your theory though. I’m not entirely sure either way, but would love to have read this for a book group.

  21. Yvonne says:

    I haven’t read either ‘Fingersmith’ or ‘The Little Stranger’, but I discovered Sarah Waters by reading ‘Affinity’, which is an absolutely great read. It was totally engrossing from beginning to end; the end I never saw coming, a complete twist in the story; and the whole thing ended all too soon for me. I will certainly be keeping a look out for the two titles you have reviewed.


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