The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
This is a novel that gave me goose bumps – not just from the quality of the writing, but also from the increasingly spooky and unsettling story. Set post WWII it follows the story of Dr Faraday who is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall, a once grand Georgian mansion that is now a crumbling wreck. We get to see the house and its occupants, Caroline, Roderick and their mother, Mrs Ayres, through the doctor’s trained medical eye – especially when he begins treating Roderick for his war injuries. But as the story progresses just how dispassionate is the good doctor, and why is he so obsessed with the old house? As the manor continues to decay around the Ayres family, a certain madness seems to take hold of the occupants – but is this a reflection of their dying way of life where they are stuck between a pre-war way of life and the post-war, or it is something more sinister – or maybe even supernatural? I will leave you to decide for yourself when you get to the end of this highly original story.
This page-turning novel is so atmospheric that the decaying house is almost a character in its own right – and the writer creates a family that are so finely nuanced that they are by turns extremely likeable but also sometimes disagreeable, just as people are in real life. Sarah Waters has won numerous awards for her writing, but her books are also extremely readable. Part historical suspense, part ghost story, The Little Stranger is a novel of people and places stuck between the past and present. Sarah Waters is a brilliant novelist and her latest book is elegantly written but still full of tension and surprise.