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The Little Stranger: 10/11/10

cover art

I read The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters for the #TuesBooktalk book club on Twitter. It's the third of her books I've read, the other two being Affinity and Tipping the Velvet.

The Little Stranger returns to the paranormal of Affinity. It's set in 1940s, at a decaying manor haunted both by bad memories and a restless spirit. Dr. Faraday is called to the home when one of the servant girls feels poorly. Her story of strange happenings at the home begins the doctor's somewhat skeptical investigation of the possible haunting.

The book is Gothic horror rich in tension, emotions (guilt, regret and sadness) and ambiguity. It reminds me favorably of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield.

The book also shares a kinship with Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh when looking at the interaction of memory and physical spaces. Dr. Faraday has a history with the manor, having visited as a child. He recounts a time when he pried on of the decorations off the woodwork. Looking back at the decline of the family and their home, he feels his act of juvenile vandalism may have been the start of it all. For me, Faraday's misguided guilt was the reason behind his unhealthy and unhelpful obsession with the haunting.

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