Friday, March 25, 2016
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Dr. Faraday, who is a doctor practicing in Britain in the 1940's, has done well for himself. He was born into a working class family; his mother a maid at the local gentry's house. That house, known as The Hundreds, was the epitome of luxury and mystery to a young boy. When he was taken inside by his mother one day, he marveled at the glorious items he saw there and never forgot it.
But in post-war Britain, The Hundreds and the Ayres family, owners and residents for more than two hundred years, are not doing well. The father has died and much of his fortune was taken by death duties. Roderick, the son, was a pilot in the war where he was injured and significantly scarred. Mrs. Ayres was determined to nurse him within the family and calls the daughter, Caroline, home to help. With little money and no resources, the house begins to deteriorate and the upkeep and maintenance of the family heritage is obviously beyond Roderick. He gets more exhausted and paler day by day as the large load of responsibility that has fallen on him grinds him down.
Dr. Faraday is called in as a doctor and soon becomes one of the few outsiders who visits the mansion. He is dismayed to see the house falling apart and the family suffering from the lack of money. He is even more dismayed as the family starts to fall apart physically from the strain of trying to maintain all they own. Even worse, each one starts to believe that there is an evil within the house itself that is determined to drive them out. That kind of talk is nonsense, or is it?
Sarah Waters is a master of the foreboding that illustrates when things are going horribly well. Each small incident can be explained by itself, but as one follows on another, it is obvious that things are not right. She has won the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year award, and several of her novels have been nominated for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize (now Bailey's). This book is recommended for readers of suspense and literary fiction.